A SIGHT familiar to all York City fans - under heavy early-December skies, the rain fell lightly, if persistently, on the Bootham Crescent turf as supporters milled around talking and taking in the views.

Only this time, the turf was bobbled and unkempt; all sides but the Main Stand and the smallest fraction of the David Longhurst Stand were cordoned off; and the terraces had been lifted of their seats.

It was bleak on the Wednesday morning when fans came to say goodbye to Bootham Crescent for one last time.

Bleak, and yet undeniably beautiful.

Some fans had understandably stayed away as the club opened the Bootham Crescent gates last week, preferring to remember the ground as it was.

Indeed, it has been almost a year since the Minstermen last played at their home since 1922. Between the game against Guiseley on December 28 last year and now, seats have been uprooted, crush barriers lifted out, historical signs and ephemera taken down, and the pitch dug up to find the ashes of deceased supporters.

And those who did go remarked on the sad state a beloved stadium now found itself in.

But they also seemed universally pleased to have bid a fond farewell in person.

Under the back of the Main Stand, Roy Wilson stood studiously by turnstile number 12, on which he stood for many games. He has worked at the ground since 1977 and done jobs all around the stadium, including in the vice-presidents’ lounge and the players’ bar.

“I’ve seen good times here - Liverpool, Arsenal, promotions, everything,” he said. “It was a family club as well. That’s what it boiled down to.

“You’d meet friends going in every time.

“I used to work in the players’ bar under the Main Stand. When Liverpool came the first time, they couldn’t get into the bar from the front so they came to the tunnel under the bar. I said, ‘You can’t come in’. They said, ‘Why?’. I said, ‘Not until you’ve all signed my programme’. And I’ve still got it!

“I’m still happy to be here. Obviously sad because it’s going to be pulled down but this is what life is. It’s progress.

“It’s nice to have come over from Wakefield and think of the good times and the bad times.

“I’m really pleased to have come down.”

Unsurprisingly, that 1975 League Cup game against Liverpool is one that sticks in the memory.

“I’ve got mixed feelings,” said Kevin Howlett.

“I’ve been coming since I was a young kid. I’ve played finals on here for local teams - Easingwold Town, Newton-on-Ouse.

“It’s very sad and emotional. I’ve seen some great games.

“I remember playing Liverpool in the 70s. I was stood at the picket fence (on the corner of the Shipton Road End and the Main Stand) and Steve Heighway (Liverpool winger) came flying up the wing like a racehorse, crossed the ball, landed on the picket fence, covered me in sweat and rubbed my hair.

“How he got that cross in, I’ll never know.”

Steve Fowler is a long-time season ticket holder who had been going to Bootham Crescent since 1969, and often sat with his father-in-law, who had been going since the 1950s.

“I’m glad I came to say goodbye,” he said. “I’ve had some good times here, and some bloody awful times.

“My dad brought me when I was a kid, and he brought my son.

“I’ve been everywhere. Most of the time on the Shippo, but when the kids were younger, we went in the Family Stand, then the last few years we’ve been in the Pop Stand.

“My first time, I think I was in the Bootham end, and swapped ends at half-time in the tunnel.

“I remember one game against Sunderland when we were in the second division, they brought about 10,000, and some of them were sitting on the Pop Stand roof - and fell through it.”

City’s stadium development director Ian McAndrew was a content man as he walked along the Main Stand, stopping for hugs and warm handshakes as he chatted at length to visitors. Welcoming more than 2,500 people to the ground has been among his fondest parts of the farewell events.

As well as those for whom it had been a decades-long weekly ritual to watch the Minstermen at Bootham Crescent, there were others who had gone down for their very first visit. One family brought along their young son, who never had the pleasure of watching a game there, while there was another gentleman on holiday in York from Scotland.

“It’s about memories,” Ian said. “And the stories...” he trailed off with a satisfied smile.

“On Sunday, two couples came here, one from the Wirral. They met on the terraces, and then they got married.

“It’s sad to see it like this. But my job has been in property and development. As a chartered surveyor, this is a natural stage.

“It’s extremely sad that this is going but it’s not sustainable any longer. I’m confident we have done everything we could have here.

“I’m looking forward to the legacy area now. It’s going to be somewhere people come forever.

“Bootham Crescent is not going to be forgotten like other stadiums. It will stay in perpetuity. What will be sad is when the bulldozers come in.”

Dave Wells was looking out solemnly out over the pitch as the rain pattered on the roof of the David Longhurst Stand.

“It’s like going to a friend’s funeral,” said Dave, whose first game was in February 1974.

“I remember walking in there,” he said, pointing at where the turnstiles for the David Longhurst Stand used to be. “And seeing everybody inside.

“It’s sad to see it in the state it is but I’m glad for doing it. If I’d sat at home and not come, I would have thought, ‘That day’s gone now’.

“I think that’s what a lot of people thought. I’ve had good times and bad times, promotions and relegations here.

“The Shippo is keeping me dry one last time.”