YORK City manager Gary Mills has rubbished the old cliché that you should never go back in football despite farming Jonathan Smith and Lee Bullock out on loan in quick succession.
The midfield pair were both delighted to be brought back for their second spells with the Minstermen this summer but quickly found themselves out of favour and are now plying their trade at non-League outfits Luton Town and Gateshead respectively.
Mills, though, is not superstitious when looking for reasons behind a player’s struggle to live up to previous expectations.
He also cited his own career as an example of how a second coming can be successful, saying: “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but that doesn’t mean everybody’s right when they say never go back.
“I went back to Tamworth as a manager and that worked for me. I felt that I finished off what I started.
I got them promoted and up to second in the Conference, which helped me end up at York, so things went well for me.
“They still can for Jonathan Smith and Lee Bullock because I’ve said they can still play major parts in our season.”
In City’s history, there are several examples that both support and quash one of football’s greatest myths. Challenging the popular misconception, along with modernday duo Michael Ingham and Chris Smith, are the likes of legendary quartet Brian Pollard, Paul Aimson, Reg Baines and Peter Spooner.
Winger Pollard must buck the supposed trend better than most in the game, having been part of the first and only City side to get promoted to and play in this country’s second tier in the 1970s before going on to join Watford in a £33,000 deal only to return after a month’s trial and claim a Division Four championship winners’ medal at the age of 30 in Denis Smith’s record-breaking 1983/84 side.
Fans favourite Aimson also spread his 113 goals for City over two equally distinguished spells in the 1960s and ’70s, netting 51 times prior to a move to Bury before grabbing 61 when he came back after an £8,000 transfer from Huddersfield.
Spooner and Baines – the latter actually enjoyed three separate stints with the Minstermen if the club’s Midlands League days are taken into consideration – were both involved in the 1938 run to the FA Cup quarter-finals after previous successful stays.
The likes of 1980s and ’90s utility man Gary Himsworth and pre-War winger Matthew Jenkinson also fared just as well in their two different periods at City.
But, equally, there are other iconic figures such as Graeme Crawford, David Dunmore, Marco Gabbiadini, Jon McCarthy, Alan Hay and Gordon Staniforth who did not match earlier heights when they donned City colours for a second time in their careers.
Crawford, City’s ever-present goalkeeper during those two seasons of second-tier football, briefly returned in 1980 at the age of 32 but only managed 17 games before leaving for Rochdale, where he carried on for another three years.
Former Cliftonville forward Dunmore earned a then club record £10,500 move to Tottenham due to his form in the first half of the 1950s but he returned to a mid- 1960s side that finished bottom and third-bottom in the Fourth Division.
Gabbiadini, an exciting mid-80s teenage prospect who would bank City £750,000 when he later moved from Sunderland to Crystal Palace in a £1.8million switch, returned briefly at the tail-end of the 1997/98 season but only managed one goal in seven games before continuing his prolific ways for the next six years with the likes of Darlington, Northampton and Hartlepool.
Another ’80s hero, Alan Hay, and 1993 Wembley favourite McCarthy only managed a game apiece during the briefest of second spells at Bootham Crescent, while two-time Clubman of the Year Staniforth, who moved for another then club record fee of £120,000 in 1980, would return later that decade on a non-contract basis but only scored once in 23 outings before leaving the professional game to play for North Ferriby United.
Less-heralded second spells also saw the likes of Adam Boyes, Anthony Lloyd and John Linaker flatter to deceive while Viv Busby was never able to emulate the success he enjoyed as a coach under Denis Smith when he became caretaker manager of the club during the first season of Conference football.
• THE aforementioned Viv Busby is one of the many famous moustached characters from the club’s past that City’s current crop of players might turn to for hirsute inspiration as they embrace Movember again.
Led by club charity ambassador Michael Ingham, the players, management staff and chairman Jason McGill are all participating in the month-long challenge to grow an impressive nostril tickler.
It is all in aid of raising money for Prostate Cancer UK and money can be donated by visiting www.mobro.com/yorkcity
Watch this space for pictures of everybody’s progress.
Excellent week sees defender Smith march on
CITY captain Chris Smith has opened a sizeable six-point gap at the top of The Press Player of the Year standings.
Smith’s big lead has come courtesy of his Press man-of-the-match display in last weekend’s 1-1 FA Cup draw against AFC Wimbledon and his status as our second-higest rated player in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Northampton.
Those combined efforts earned the centre-back, inset, five points towards the standings, with Matty Blair now moving up to jointsecond spot after his Press man-of-thematch award for the Northampton game, which saw him collect three points.
Michael Ingham, our third-highest rated player against the Cobblers, collected the remaining Player of the Year point on offer.
In the Wimbledon match, midfielders Danny Kearns (two points) and Scott Kerr (one) were also recognised for their efforts.
Kearns, meanwhile, picked up the two Player of the Month bonus points on offer to the player who polled the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.
That accolade went to Ingham after Tuesday’s game.
To be in with a chance of presenting this month’s Press Player of the Month with their prize – a framed photograph – before a City home game, don’t forget to register your man-of-the-match vote for the club’s league and cup clashes with AFC Wimbledon today and on Monday.
Alternatively, you can tweet your choices to @daveflettpress
The Press Player of the of the Year latest standings (not including Player of the Month bonus points): C Smith 19, Blair 13, Walker 13, Chambers 11, Parslow 11, Ingham 10, Fyfield 9, Coulson 7, Carlisle 5, J Smith 5, Oyebanjo 4, Doig 3, Kearns 3, Blanchett 2, Taylor 2, Challinor 1, Kerr 1, McLaughlin 1.
The Press Player of the Month November standings: C Smith 5, Kearns 4, Ingham 3, Blair 3, Kerr 1.
Goals: Chambers 6, Coulson 5, Blair 4, Walker 4, McLaughlin 2, Parslow 1, Reed 1, C Smith 1.
Assists: J Smith 5, Walker 5, Chambers 3, Coulson 2, Kearns 2, Parslow 2, Blair 1, Challinor 1, Fyfield 1, McLaughlin 1, C Smith 1.
Bad boys: Chambers 4 yellow cards; Fyfield, Ingham, McLaughlin, C Smith all 2 yellow; Carlisle, Challinor, Coulson, Doig, Kerr, Parslow, J Smith, Walker all 1 yellow.