DAN Parslow has admitted his York City departure will be tinged with sadness that he could not help the club move forward during his second spell at Bootham Crescent.

The former Wales under-21 international was brought back to North Yorkshire by then boss Gary Mills in January 2017 – less than nine months after helping Cheltenham Town clinch the National League title.

But, despite the Minstermen subsequently displaying top-ten form under Mills, the club were relegated from the same division when Guiseley grabbed a 90th-minute final-day equaliser against Solihull.

Parslow was a member of the City side that lifted the FA Trophy at Wembley three weeks later but the last two campaigns have resulted in consecutive mid-table National League North finishes, with spells out of favour and in the treatment room limiting the 33-year-old defender’s contributions during that period.

Summarising the last two-and-a-half years, Parslow said: “I came back in to try and help keep the club stay in the National League and we gave it a good shot before just falling short and, when the full-time whistle went against Forest Green, it felt awful. You could hear a pin drop as the reality that York City would be playing in the National League North set in with everybody.

“I then wanted to put things right and Gary Mills was staying and putting a squad together. But, even though manager after manager have been appointed since, nobody has quite been able to put the right pieces together and the last 18 months have been very difficult because, from my point of view and the club’s, we haven’t been able to achieve what we set out to.”

Parslow has suffered cruciate ligament damage, three broken noses and a facial wound that required 80 stitches on duty for the Minstermen and, typically, his City career has come to an end with him still suffering from severe concussion more than three months after putting his neck on the line for a club where he sits tenth on the all-time appearances list.

But, despite a catalogue of injuries that would make many of his fellow professionals wince, Parslow is seriously sincere when he insists: “Other than that I’ve been very fortunate and available for selection during most of my career.”

He also takes genuine pride from the personal accolades he has achieved for a club he represented 383 times, including just four outings last term

“I was so close for so long, so it was nice to get those few appearances to break into the top ten,” he reasoned. “I’m proud to be up there with those other names who represented the club so well over the years and I’ve also been the Billy Fenton Memorial Trophy Clubman of the Year three times and that is something I consider a great honour and will never forget.”

Parslow’s career is a great example of the unexpected path football can take an individual down.

If then Cardiff City reserve team coach Paul Wilkinson had not previously worked with the Minstermen’s assistant-team manager Colin Walker back in the summer of 2006, fate could have taken him in a completely different direction.

“Colin got in touch to say that York were looking for a centre-half and Paul Wilkinson said I was definitely worth a punt,” Parslow recalls. “I knew there was a football club in York, but I didn’t know how far north it was and, after Colin invited me up for a trial, I thought I’d best be setting off as he told me it was a five-hour drive.

“I couldn’t imagine then that York City would become such a huge part of my life and I’ll always be proud to be associated with the club.”

Parslow’s first City outing came as a 68th-minute substitute for James Dudgeon as a visiting team, reduced to ten men by goalkeeper Tom Evans’ first-half red card, were defeated at Crawley.

“We were losing 3-0 and I was thrown on by Billy McEwan, who grinned at me before saying: ‘Go and win us the game,’ Parslow smiled.

His full debut was a happier occasion as Kidderminster were seen off 1-0 at Bootham Crescent, where home supporters first witnessed a central-defensive partnership that was to serve the club admirably during future years.

“I was extremely nervous and excited, because I wanted to show everybody what I was capable of,” Parslow remembers of that mid-September afternoon. “I played alongside Dave McGurk and we managed to keep a clean sheet.

“Dave was a fantastic player and, as somebody who was a little bit older and established, I looked up to him in the early part of my career. He always looked cool and read the game so well.

“I thought we complemented each other well and we formed a good partnership, even if there were ups and downs along the way.”

The biggest high during Parslow’s two City spells would come when he played every minute of the historic 2012 Wembley double contests, operating in a midfield role for the play-off final win against Luton when he set up Matty Blair’s winning goal that propelled the club back into the Football League after an eight-year absence.

Parslow had only played in midfield for the first-ever time six weeks earlier and, recalling that glorious period, he said: “I’d been in and out of the team that season but, at the back end of the campaign, I got a run of games and ended up playing in the centre of midfield for the last three matches.

“The first time I played in midfield was Alfreton away on Easter Monday. We’d had a few injuries and, at 1.45pm, Millsy grabbed me and said: ‘You’re playing centre midfield’.

“I said: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ But he said: ‘You’ll be fine. Just break things up and pass the ball five yards’ and I loved it, getting about, reading the game, picking up second balls and passing to players better than me.

“We went on to win at Wembley with three defenders in midfield – myself, Lanre Oyebanjo and James Meredith – and that was Millsy. He saw attributes in players that you didn’t know you had yourself, but he knew he could utilise.

“That’s the sign of a good manager and that’s why he’s had success and will have more if he’s given another opportunity. It was an incredible feeling to win twice at Wembley and get promotion because it had been our aim as a club for so long.

“I was also extremely proud to win the Clubman of the Year award during the following season as I wanted to prove I was good enough to play in the Football League and I only missed one match.”

Mills, meanwhile, is one of four managers – all of whom were in charge during play-off campaigns - that Parslow cites when asked to select the best City boss he worked under.

“Gary Mills filled you with so much confidence,” he declared. “Billy McEwan gave me my first opportunity, and nobody was as cool and calm as Foyley (Martin Foyle).

“Nigel Worthington’s professionalism and thoroughness made sure everything was done exactly right too.”

Of the plethora of team-mates he has taken the field with, though, three stand out.

“Me and Martyn Woolford joined the club at the same time and he kicked on and had a fantastic career,” Parslow points out. “Clayton Donaldson was also a great goalscorer and Dave McGurk is somebody who I think should have played at a higher level if injuries hadn’t held him back.”

With the prospect of a new stadium seemingly just around the corner ever since Parslow first joined the club almost 13 years ago, the Hengoed-born defender also confessed that the fact the timing of his departure now coincides with next season’s relocation to Monks Cross is a bitter pill to swallow.

“It’s one of the biggest shames,” he admitted. “The new stadium is something that has been talked about for so long and playing there is something I would have loved to experience.

“Bootham Crescent has played a huge part in my career, but it would have been great to walk out and represent the club at the Community Stadium.”