THIRTY years on, York City's victory over Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup still resonates as one of the competition's big shocks.

A star-studded side, put together at a cost of more than £4.5 million and featuring eight internationals, arrived at Bootham Crescent on January 26, 1985, confident of straight-forward progression into the last 16.

But on a snow-bound day in York, they met their match against a heroic side that defied the odds to record a famous 1-0 victory.

Former York City manager Denis Smith, ex-players Ricky Sbragia and Keith Houchen and former Yorkshire Evening Press chief sports writer Malcolm Huntington recount their memories of the encounter - a game that still stands as one of the Minstermen's finest results.

January 26, 1985. FA Cup fourth round day. But, at Bootham Crescent, the game between York City and Arsenal is in doubt. With snow covering the pitch, the club issues a plea for fans to come and help clear the surface.

A battalion of some 200 arrive, armed with shovels, and are rewarded when Sandbach referee Don Shaw gives the all-clear.

York Press:

HARD AT WORK: Fans clear the pitch ahead of the FA Cup fourth round game with Arsenal

Smith: "The odds would be against it taking place now. The staff were all out - myself and assistant manager Viv Busby too - but it was about the supporters basically, along with the groundsmen."

Houchen: "It was a really cold winter and there was a lot of snow on the pitch. They had put canvas sheets and straw along the top. Come the matchday, all that had to be cleared off.

"That was the thing about the FA Cup in the old days that you never see any more. The whole community, and all the supporters, used to get involved. They would be out on the radio for volunteers to come to the ground and clear the pitch - see if we could get the match to go ahead.

"I remember the referee inspecting the pitch, with the linesmen and the different managers. The players were out there having a look and you wouldn't have been surprised at all if you were getting back in your car and driving home."

Huntington: "I remember their manager (Don Howe) wandering about saying 'give the referee a cigar and let him get his feet up and have a coffee. It's not fit for play'. The referee decided it was fit for play."

Sbragia: "We had still got to play on it. No-one (on our side) grumbled about the pitch. We knew it was never going to be off. We just needed to get on with it.

"They had to play on the same pitch. We caught them. We felt that we could beat them. They weren't invincible. We had to play at our maximum and hope they had a day off."

With a team that included the likes of Kenny Sansom, Viv Anderson, Tony Woodcock and Charlie Nicholas, Arsenal were huge favourites to win - despite fears the pitch would be a leveller for Third Division York.

But there was a quiet confidence running through the Minstermen outfit that they could deliver a mammoth upset.

Huntington: "I think they had eight internationals and it was a £4.5 million Arsenal side and a £19,000 York City side."

Smith: "Arsenal were one of the top clubs and they still are. We were decent, though. I know it seems ridiculous to say we thought we would have a chance but we did. It was the way we were playing and there was a total belief in the side."

Sbragia: "There was always the belief. We'd had such a good year and we had a really good team. We always felt at home that we could beat anyone. The pitch was really tight and there were some conditions that really helped. They didn't fancy it.

"There weren't any negatives. Even the build up, it was similar to what we did in the league. We had a day off. We carried on doing the same things in training.

"We didn't really speak an awful lot about Arsenal. We knew they were really good players."

Houchen: "We weren't overawed by anything. Denis and Viv had us set up to have a go at them. We certainly weren't saying 'we'll keep the goals down or anything like that'."

York Press:

The game gets under way. Teenager Martin Butler, the youngest player in the York side at just 18, latches on to a mistake by Sansom and surges forward. After breaking through a tackle and sweeping into the box, Gary Ford flies in behind and drags his shot wide. York are more than holding their own. It's 0-0 at half-time.

Smith: "I think they were shocked by the intensity of our play. We closed down as well as anyone in the league. We had good attacking players.

"The work rate throughout the team was incredible. We closed them down far quicker than they would have expected. And they struggled."

Sbragia: "We pressured them. You could get away with murder in those days. Physically, we dealt with them.

"As a back four, we felt really comfortable. We had two midfield players and certainly that massively helped us. But we always felt comfortable. At half-time, we felt 'we are in here, we've got something. We can win this game'."

Huntington: "It was a very level game. Mick Astbury had to make a couple of good saves from Paul Mariner and Woodcock - two important saves in the second half."

York Press:

KEY PERSONALITIES: Clockwise, from left, Ricky Sbragia, Denis Smith and Malcolm Huntington

The second period. Anderson has to clear away at the far post with Keith Walwyn waiting after Butler again causes carnage down the right. Tommy Caton then clears off the line after Walywn lifts the ball over advancing Arsenal keeper Lukic.

It is heading for a draw. But, in the last minute, Butler again surges down the right. Houchen, arriving from deep, gets into a tangle with Gunners midfielder Steve Williams.

Huntington: "I can picture it. I couldn't understand why Williams had to foul. He was going nowhere."

Houchen: "It was a crazy foul. A needless foul. I always wondered what happened about that. I always wondered if he got fined for it or what his manager said after the game.

"It was probably ten yards outside when he first started to foul me. He had switched off and got a little bit lazy.

"We were in a really threatening situation. He realised I had a yard on him and, if the ball comes in, I am going to have a chance of getting on the end of it. He has obviously tried to take me out as quickly as he could.

"I think he fouled me again just as I got towards the box. I could actually feel his arms and legs all over me as I was coming into the box.

"The final time - it's always one of them. In the old days it was all well and good being honest and staying on your feet but, if it is a foul and if it is a penalty, make sure you get the penalty.

"He was hanging all over me. I thought 'I'm going to go to ground here anyway'. We went down in a clatter of arms and legs flying. Straight away, you are looking. Where's the ref? Has he seen anything?

"I always remember as I hit the ground, and he fell with me, I looked across and the ref was just coming into the box and he was actually putting the whistle to his lips.

"It was 'where's the ball? Where's the ball? Let me have the ball."

Huntington: "He (Williams) was tugging at him all the time. I saw it as a penalty on the day, I must say. And that's not just because I was hoping York City would win. He fouled him and I don't think they had any complaints, really. It was a daft thing to do."

As Arsenal players surround the referee, Houchen stands alone in the penalty area, the ball on the spot.

Smith: "Everyone seemed to be nervous except Keith. I was quite happy to watch it. I had belief in him. Within the team, the feeling was that he would do it.

"It was a team which believed in themselves, believed they were better than the level they were playing at. "

Sbragia: "I thought Keith would score. I was hoping he would. You would hope to score from that distance. He was confident taking the penalty."

Huntington: "It was very nail-biting. I admired Keith Houchen on that day. You can imagine anyone in football shaking when they are taking a last minute penalty against Arsenal in an FA Cup tie for a small club.

"I seem to remember talking to him and he said he felt very cool about it."

Houchen: "I loved taking penalties. I really loved it. I always called it a free goal. My wife, Yvonne, was in the stand that day.

"When the penalty was given, there was all the commotion and everything kicked off and the crowd were going mad. Arsenal were very professional and they held it up for three, four or five minutes.

"She said she was watching me all the time everything was going on and she said 'You looked like a little boy stood on the edge of the box waiting to take the penalty'.

"She thought 'you are stood there all on your own and everyone is just waiting for you to knock it in the net. What if you don't?'

"People say 'did you pick your spot? Did you decide and not change your mind?' I think I used to put the ball down and just trust instinct.

"In my own mind, up until a couple of paces before I hit the ball, I wasn't sure myself whether I was going to go bottom or top.

"With that one I did give him (Lukic) the eyes. I was lining up and looking down at the right hand corner and looking and looking at the right hand corner. As I've hit it, I am looking at the right hand corner and cutting across it to hit in the left hand corner.

"I took him with my eyes and off he went. It was a sweet enough strike. When I watch it back now, it was always a goal. You know in your mind if you have scored and, as soon as I hit it, I could see that he was going the wrong way as I have struck it.

"It was right in the corner and it was the type of penalty where, if he had dived the right way, I am not really sure if he would have been able to save it. I think it went into the side netting in the end."

York Press:

MOBBED: Keith Houchen is swamped after netting the penalty against Arsenal

Pandemonium ensues. Houchen is buried under his team-mates. Moments later, the referee blows the final whistle. York City have beaten Arsenal.

Houchen: "That stand was slightly bigger in those days, behind the goal, and there were people up on the stanchions of the floodlights. You are watching. It has gone in and the crowd absolutely erupted behind that goal.

"I have gone running towards that side of the crowd, in the snow and everything, and Keith Walwyn was the first one who got me. Cor, he hit me - bang - came right in the back of me.

"He was twice the size of me, 16 stone, and down we went and I don't remember much after that because I think everybody else came in as well. It was such an achievement for everybody. It's the recognition. It's a massive cup upset."

Huntington: "It was one of the headlines on the six o'clock BBC news, which was very unusual for football."

York Press:

Sbragia: "They were really good times. I loved the club. I loved it when I was a coach. I really enjoyed it and they gave me my first chance.

"The club was fantastic. There are good people who run it and you wish them all the best. We were really buoyant. We had some bad times but we had some really good times as well."

Smith: "It was a day to remember. It's another piece of FA Cup history. We are there in the record books. It's something to be proud of and I think all the lads think of those days very fondly."

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