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York City holds sway for Gordon Staniforth
3:40pm Wednesday 9th May 2012 in News
TWO of his former clubs will collide at Wembley in Saturday’s FA Trophy final, but, as Gordon Staniforth relates to DAVE FLETT, there’s only one team he wants to see triumph under the arch.
FORMER York City and Newport County striker Gordon Staniforth has admitted he is “absolutely delighted” two of his old teams will meet in Saturday’s FA Trophy final.
But, even though Staniforth is fond of both clubs, he will be rooting for the Minstermen under the famous Wembley arch this weekend.
Staniforth had happier times in North Yorkshire, having twice won the Billy Fenton Memorial Trophy as Clubman of the Year.
The former England schoolboy international also scored 34 goals from 147 League games during two separate spells at City from 1976 to 1979 and from 1987 to 1988 before spending seven years as the club’s community officer.
Staniforth has lived in the Minster city, meanwhile, for the last 25 years and still combines his position as York College’s football development centre co-ordinator with work for the Press Association at Bootham Crescent on match days.
The Hull-born coach’s connections with South Wales have been less enduring and his time with County was also a struggle that, not long after Staniforth’s departure, culminated in the club’s relegation from the Football League and eventual closure.
The ex-Hull, Plymouth and Carlisle attacker has, therefore, watched the Exiles rise back to prominence with pleasure but that will not affect his allegiance come Saturday afternoon.
“I’m absolutely delighted that these two teams will meet at Wembley,” Staniforth confessed. “My loyalties lie with York first and foremost but it’s great to see Newport there and resurrected after the difficult times they have had.
“I spent two years there a long time ago when the club was going through turmoil financially. It wasn’t a successful time for me but I met so many nice people there.
“It’s good to see so many tickets being sold too because York and Newport both need that financial boost to keep going, never mind to push on to that next level.”
Staniforth also admitted to being seduced by City’s playing style under Gary Mills this term, so much so he advises his teenage pupils to watch the team live at every opportunity.
He added: “I’m absolutely delighted with the philosophy Gary Mills has brought to the club. I think the standard of the Conference has got better and better in recent years and he has put York on the map as a footballing team.
“I encourage my students to watch this York City team because of the way they pass the ball and protect it when they are in possession. To achieve that in the Conference is fantastic.
“I like the midfield, especially Paddy McLaughlin and Scott Kerr, who are both so comfortable and patient on the ball.”
Staniforth is not as familiar with the current County ranks but, despite the team’s travails when he was plying his trade at the old Somerton Park ground in the 1980s, he still recalls vividly some of the household names he played alongside.
One was a 20-something, future Premier League manager, who shared Staniforth’s studious thirst for the game if not the same footballing philosophy.
“Myself and Tony Pulis used to sit together on the bus for away games all the time,” Staniforth revealed. “We haven’t kept in touch down the years but I'm delighted he’s become a very good Premier League manager.
“We spent a lot of time together at Newport talking football and analysing tactics. We used to have five-a-side games on a Friday morning as well and I always used to make sure I chose him first pick because he used to go around kicking people.
“He was a nutcase and I didn’t want him kicking me. The Stoke team he has created doesn’t surprise me because he had very strong views on how the game should be played.”
Newport also had England striker Bob Latchford and legendary Welsh winger Leighton James on their books with both leaving a lasting impression on Staniforth, who is now 55.
He said: “They had both played at the highest level and, although they were coming to the end of their careers, Bob Latchford was a fantastic target man to play with and Leighton James was a winger with so many Wales caps that just being in the same dressing room was a great experience.
“It was a fantastic education for me. I just wish I’d had them around earlier in my career to learn from them then.”