WAYNE Hall remembers former York City team-mate David Longhurst being "on fire" during the minutes before his death on the Bootham Crescent pitch.

The former City left-back, who would later become a club legend when his penalty secured promotion at Wembley in a shoot-out victory over Crewe, was just 21 when he played in the tragic match against Lincoln on September 8, 1990.

He is now a prison officer but still has strong memories of that sad day 25 years ago.

Hall said: "The whole thing is still quite vivid in my mind. I remember it being a very hot day and he was on fire actually – running everywhere.

"He had just made another run then, all of a sudden, I remember turning around and he had collapsed. The physio and paramedics ran on but, when they carried him off, we all feared the worst.

"The game was abandoned and rightly so. There’s more to life than football.

"What happened made everybody realise football is a game and nobody should lose their life playing it. We found out after that he had a heart defect and there had been no suggestion of that whatsoever.

"He came from Peterborough and had all the tests they did back then but they hadn’t picked up his condition. It affected quite a lot of people afterwards – a lot of us as players and the backroom staff were all devastated.

"I remember John Bird, the manager, coming in to tell us he had passed away and he was really upset."

Hall also recalls Longhurst's value to the club on and off the pitch, adding: "He was a good player with a good touch and also a good goalscorer.

"He was a bubbly lad too – one of those who was the real life and soul. He was really good in the dressing room, made fun of everybody and was really sharp with the banter.

"He settled in really well at York and it was as if he had been there for years to be honest."

City's current assistant manager John Schofield was on the opposing team to Hall and Longhurst that day and revealed that what happened also upset the visitors.

"It was a very, very sad day for everybody and I can’t begin to imagine what his family went through," Schofield said. "What sticks in my mind was travelling across the pitch with David Longhurst behind me. Then, he ran past our right-back Paul Casey and went down as though he’d been fouled.

"I was thinking at the time I’m not sure that was a foul and I’m not sure if a free kick was awarded or not. Then, after that, everybody came on to see to him and, God bless him, he never moved again.

"It was just before half-time and, when we came off the pitch, we weren’t really aware of what had happened. Then Allan Clarke, our manager, came in and said 'The game’s been postponed because their player has passed away'.

"It was said as matter-of-fact as that because I think Allan was in shock as all of us as players were. It was unbelievable because you don’t imagine that when you kick off on a Saturday that something devastating like that is going to happen.

"It took a few days to get over it for us as opposition players so God knows what it was like for the people who played with him on a regular basis and were friends with him. It put everything into perspective as regards the job we do."

Having witnessed the Longhurst tragedy at close quarters, Schofield also later felt compelled to become an advocate for heart screening when others in football were challenging its implementation.

"When I went into youth coaching, the LFE were just beginning to introduce screening," he explained. "There were a lot of people questioning whether we needed it at meetings but, with me having been there when somebody lost their life on a pitch, I was able to say how important it was to get screening right.

"It had to be the way forward because people’s lives are more important than football. You can also overcome these defects and little conditions now.

"You can take medication and there are ways around it to give people the chance to still lead a safe, active life."