THE driver of a coach taking York City fans back from Wembley was hailed a hero after the windscreen was smashed by a brick dropped from a motorway bridge.
A 59-year-old York City fan was hit by the missile and was taken to York Hospital with a suspected broken leg.
The incident happened as the coach, run by York Pullman Bus Company, was travelling on the A1 as it passed under the A63 bridge, just south of South Milford, near Selby.
The stunned driver was hailed for his “exemplary performance” by his bosses for bringing the coach, carrying 22 fans, to a safe halt. A spokesman for York Pullman said: “Something was dropped off a motorway bridge that went through the windscreen of the coach and hit a passenger. I’m not wanting to be too melodramatic, but had the boulder come through the windscreen two-feet further across, it would have hit the driver in the face.”
The spokesman said the driver managed to pull over on to the hard shoulder, despite the fact he was in a state of shock. “The driver’s behaviour was exemplary. He was very shaken up by the incident.”
Inspector Michael Green, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “We can only assume that local youths may be responsible.”
The damaged coach was taken to Wetherby Services, where Pullman provided a replacement vehicle to get the supporters home. The injured male fan is from Dishforth, near Thirsk. He was among 11,000 fans who travelled to Wembley for the FA Trophy final match with Stevenage which City lost 2-0.
York City chairman Jason McGill hopes the club will rake in about £150,000 from their road to Wembley – cash which will be used to bolster the playing squad after years of operating on a shoestring.
He said: “It’s difficult to say at the moment, but I hope the match will give us about that amount. Now what we need to do is use that extra income in the right way to build a successful team. Our primary aim is to get out of the Blue Square Premier and back into the Football League – as a board of directors, we are committed to investing in that.
“It is a fantastic achievement for us to have got to Wembley and the support we had was absolutely wonderful – it shows there is a groundswell of support for York City and we thank them all for the efforts they made to be there. I’m very proud and very humble to have been part of a club which has represented York and North Yorkshire so well. That is testimony to the people of the region.”
While their big day out did not produce the trophy-lifting success they dreamed of, supporters refused to let defeat put a dampener on their spirits as they headed home.
“I’m disappointed, but not too down – Wembley was everything I hoped it would be and I just can’t believe I’ve seen City play there,” said Neil Jackson, 37, from Copmanthorpe.
“Not every supporter gets that chance, so we’ve experienced something we will always remember.”
Emma Lewis, 29, of Huntington, said: “To win would have been unbelievable, but the main thing is the occasion, the moments we’ll never forget about the day – the songs, the banter, seeing City walk out onto the pitch – and the money the club has made from getting to Wembley, which will hopefully secure its future.”
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