York City reporter Dave Flett resumes our series on the 1954-55 FA Cup heroes with the third round triumph at Blackpool.

FORMER York City goalkeeper Tommy Forgan went from contemplating life on football's scrap heap to being heralded as an FA Cup semi-final hero in the space of nine magical months in 1955.

Forgan's first FA Cup appearance for the Minstermen saw him save a penalty in the magnificent 2-0 third round victory at First Division giants Blackpool.

But before the season had kicked off, the Middlesbrough-born shot-stopper had spent the summer writing to clubs asking for a chance to prove himself having been placed on the transfer list by Hull City.

It is an approach that few modern footballers -- especially since the advent of agents - would consider today but, for Forgan, it paid off.

He said: "That summer I was struggling to get a club to be honest. I was at Hull, where I had played with Ernie Phillips and Norman Wilkinson, but they put me on the transfer list.

"They wanted a price for me. I don't remember how much but I did not think they would get it.

"Nobody made an offer so I wrote to a lot of third division clubs and I think it was only because York's goalkeeper Mick Granger was away with the Army in Malaysia that I got my chance as a stop-gap."

Some stop-gap. Forgan, having been snapped up for a bargain £500, went on to star in the Happy Wanderers' Cup run and, in 12 years at Bootham Crescent, became the club's longest-serving goalkeeper, making a total of 428 appearances.

A thumb injury meant Forgan, who now lives in Australia, had to wait until the mouth-watering January 8 clash at Bloomfield Road for his FA Cup City debut with his good friend Granger playing in the first two rounds.

And the 6ft keeper admitted he did not even expect to face the likes of Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen when the two teams came out of the hat together.

He said: "When the draw was made I did not think I would be playing. I only considered myself a stand-in while Mick came out of the Army.

"He played the first two games while I was injured and, to be honest, I think it could have gone either way who played during the rest of the cup run. There was no big rivalry between us. We got on well. Mick was a nice guy and a good goalkeeper."

Goals from Sid Storey and Billy Fenton, as well as Forgan's penalty save, earned the Minstermen their first ever away victory over top-flight opposition, but City's goalkeeper remembers the crucial role played by George Howe in shackling the legendary Matthews.

He said: "There was so much hype before the game and the biggest thing was Stanley Matthews playing. There was Stan Mortensen as well but we knew the first thing we had to do was get George Howe to stop Matthews then we would have a great chance.

"George played him very well and I don't think Matthews got a kick. I don't remember our goals but the penalty was high to my left and I punched it over the bar.

"I think any penalty save is a good one but, basically, you make your mind up which way to go and then see what happens."

Forgan added that the unswerving self-belief of City's Third Division players helped topple an international-studded Blackpool team.

He said: "We always thought we had a chance against anybody. We were playing good football that was far above Third Division standards.

"Everybody thought Third Division football was kick and bash but that was not our style at all. When we got in front against Blackpool I could not see us getting beaten.

"Blackpool had a hell of a side but I don't think York were ever overawed and, later on, against Spurs and Newcastle, we had the same belief that we could win. I think people realised we were a good team after the Blackpool win."

City were also buoyed by the backing of a 5,000-strong away crowd at the Lancashire seaside resort and Forgan admitted the fans played a big part in the success as well, saying: "The atmosphere was electric at Blackpool.

"We always had a good crowd come to watch us and the Happy Wanderers song really spurred us on. I remember having a great night after the Blackpool game although they were all great nights during that run.

"When we got back to York there were a lot of people waiting for us at the ground and, even during the week, people were turning up at Bootham Crescent wanting to talk about the games."

Forgan moved to Gainsborough Trinity in 1966 and later played for Mitre in the York and District League as a 44-year-old.

In 1974, he emigrated to Perth, Australia, where he worked as a bricklayer until his retirement.

He admits he loves life down under too much to return to these shores and recently declined the offer of Christmas on the beach because the sand was too hot!

But Forgan still writes to former City team-mates Alan Woods, Dave Dunmore, Gerry Baker and Bob Bainbridge and admits he enjoys a holiday in England although doubts whether he will be able to attend March's 50th-year semi-final anniversary dinner.

FA Cup match facts

Third round

December 11, 1954

Blackpool 0, York City 2 (Storey, Fenton)

Blackpool: George Farm, Roy Gratrix, Jim Kelly, Harry Johnston, Hugh Kelly, Stanley Matthews, Jackie Mudie, Stan Mortensen, Ernie Taylor, Bill Perry.

York City: Tommy Forgan, Ernie Phillips, George Howe, Gordon Brown, Alan Stewart, Ron Spence, Billy Hughes, Arthur Bottom, Norman Wilkinson, Sid Storey, Billy Fenton.

Referee: G F Sawyer (Weston-super-Mare)

Attendance: 26,030 (Receipts £4,364)

City's towering Blackpool display tames Sir Stan

AFTER knocking out two non-League sides in the opening rounds, City were handed a plum third round tie at Blackpool.

In those days the Tangerines were a force to be reckoned with the likes of England stars Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen in their ranks.

Indeed, nine of the players who faced City were internationals - Matthews, Mortensen, Harry Johnston, Tommy Garrett, Ernie Taylor and Pill Perry and a trio of Scots - George Farm, Hugh Kelly and Jackie Mudie.

Only 18 months earlier Blackpool had lifted the Cup when a Matthews-inspired comeback saw them beat Bolton Wanderers 4-3 at Wembley.

The crowd at Bloomfield Road was swelled by a 5,000 travelling contingent from York and they were treated to the City's first-ever victory over Division One opposition.

City spent two days at nearby Southport ahead of the game and had Tommy Forgan back in goal after recovering from injury.

In the early stages there was nothing to suggest that a major upset was on the cards as blue-shirted City came under strong pressure from Blackpool's corps of international stars.

But with George Howe keeping Matthews in check, City started to dominate proceedings with Alan Stewart and Gordon Brown to the fore.

They deservedly took the lead on 37 minutes when Sid Storey sent in a swerving cross-cum-shot from the left which fooled Farm and ended up in the back of the net.

City continued to attack rather than protect their lead and were rewarded with a classic goal 20 minutes from the end. Norman Wilkinson engineered enough space to slide the perfect pass through for Billy Fenton to crack the ball home from 12 yards.

City appeared to be in complete control but in the 78th minute conceded a penalty which Forgan punched Jimmy Kelly's spotkick over the bar to nip any Blackpool revival in the bud.

At the final whistle City fans poured on to the pitch to salute their heroes who held a champagne celebration dinner at Clitheroe after the match.

Pathe News later presented skipper Ernie Phillips with a copy of a film showing the match highlights as City took centre stage.

The fourth round draw sent City on their travels again to either Ipswich or amateurs Bishop Auckland, who had drawn 2-2 in their first round encounter.

Our series will continue in three weeks time - January 29 - with that fourth round trip to Bishop Auckland.

Updated: 11:33 Saturday, January 08, 2005