In this series, Joe Richardson takes a look back at York City’s time at Bootham Crescent from their move from Fulfordgate in 1932 to the present day, ahead of their impending move to the LNER Community Stadium

AFTER the cup run, the club had enough money to add an extra section onto the main stand at Bootham Crescent and, in 1959, floodlights were added.

Between 1959 and 1971, City yo-yoed between the Fourth and Third Divisions before winning promotion to the Second Division in 1974.

Seats were installed in the Pop Stand in preparation for what would be a two-year stay at City’s highest-ever level, competing with the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest. The 15th-placed finish of the 1974/75 season is the highest City have ever achieved in the league structure, although they did, in October of that season, reach the pinnacle of fifth.

City’s FA Cup run that term ended at the third-round replay against Arsenal, who won 3-1 at Bootham Crescent in front of 15,362 thanks to a Brian Kidd hat-trick after York had taken a 1-1 draw away from Highbury.

But City got their revenge a decade on when, as a Third Division outfit, they beat the Gunners 1-0 in the fourth round thanks to a late Keith Houchen penalty.

John Uttley is the chairman of the East Riding Minstermen supporters’ group and has not missed a home game since August 1978.

“When I first started going, I used to stand in the enclosure where the main stand is,” he said. “You had a bit of terracing there at the front behind the manager’s dugout, which was a brick building with a bit of tarpaulin in those days so people would be banging on top saying, ‘Get him off, sub him’ and so on.

“I stood in the David Longhurst Stand for years and years. It was uncovered initially and the elements used to be grim. I remember standing on many a Tuesday night, January, February time with snow on the pitch, snow everywhere on the terracing, absolutely frozen.

“But you still carried on doing it.

“I think the Arsenal game stands out to most people,” he said. “I said to a mate in the pub the night before, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we beat them with a last-minute penalty?’

“We’ve beaten some good sides at Bootham Crescent. We were a good cup side in those days.”

City were rewarded with a home tie with First Division title-contenders Liverpool. Ian Rush opened the scoring in the second half before Ricky Sbragia netted at the fourth attempt of a City attack to take the tie to Anfield where City were dispatched 7-0.

Still, “a fantastic night and a fantastic day,” said Peter Chapell, a fan of 50 years, of the occasion, which ranks among his favourites at Bootham Crescent.

“I took my eight-year-old daughter to her first home game and she’s a lifelong fan City fan now. My grandson and granddaughter are City fans too and they go when they can.

“When David Beckham came just after the World Cup, the reception he got was fantastic from the York City fans. Unbelievable.

“My fondest memory is when we drew 1-1 with Liverpool.”

City’s 1985/86 cup run was ended in near-identical circumstances to 1985. The same round of the same competition against the same opponents at the same ground after the same scoreline at the same Bootham Crescent. This time, though, City took the lead through Gary Ford and the English champions needed a Jan Molby penalty to rescue the tie.

The ground has seen its share of tragedy too.

“My lowest point was David Longhurst’s passing,” said John. “It’s etched in my memory.”

It was September 8, 1990 when the 25-year-old striker collapsed on the pitch. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

“He was the fittest guy in the team,” John continued. “Just come back from injury, and he was walking back to the halfway line and he just collapsed. We thought he’d taken a knock.

“I went to the club shop at half-time, came back in and I could see his girlfriend in the back of the ambulance, pot of tea shaking like mad. I thought, ‘Something’s not right here.’

“They weren’t playing music at half-time and an announcement over the Tannoy said, ‘Due to a serious injury, today’s game has been abandoned.’

“I got in my mate’s car where we’d usually have Radio York on and classical music was playing. They interrupted it and said, ‘Owing to the tragic events today…’

“That’s how we found out. It was such a numb experience for everybody.

“Next week we were supposed to be at home. Instead they had a memorial service for him.

“I went to Darlington the first game after the tragedy and their fans were singing, ‘Where’s your striker gone?’ and it got nasty. There was fighting in the car park. It was a horrible few weeks and easily my most upsetting time at Bootham Crescent.

“Football becomes totally irrelevant.”