Come five o’clock today York City could be at stood at one of the most bizarre crossroads in the club’s 87-year history.

If they can despatch AFC Telford to oblivion in the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-final at KitKat Crescent – the hosts hold a 2-0 advantage from last week’s opening encounter – the Minstermen can prepare for their first appearance at the new Wembley on Saturday, May 9.

Indeed, it will be the club’s second outing at the spiritual home of English football after the momentous 1993 play-off win over Crewe Alexandra – beneath the twin towers rather than the new arch – which led to City ascending to the then Second Division, presently Coca-Cola One, the division Leeds United and Leicester City now occupy.

Unlike then, however, today’s men in red will experience a far longer gap between this afternoon and the realisation of a dream at Wembley. And, more significantly, it will involve a no-holds barred battle against the ignominy of relegation to Blue Square North. Now while it might be a slight on the likes of Harrogate Town et al in the BSN, a descent there for City will represent nothing less than a spiral into the wastelands.

In that grim scenario, even given an FA Trophy conquest over either of the other semi-finalists Stevenage or Ebbsfleet, City surely could not continue to sustain a full-time team, given that gates would inevitably drop. Over the past touch and go years of the Blue Square Premier, players wearing the red of York have been immensely lucky, nay privileged, to have remained on full-time terms.

If any more incentive were needed then surely the fact they could well be hit in the pocket, notwithstanding their status also being eroded, should galvanise them into a final flourish towards safety from the spectre of relegation. If professional pride is not enough, then the effect on the wallet, especially in these more straightened times, should spark a huge dose of reality over the concluding weeks of an ill-starred league campaign.

City manager Martin Foyle this week also brutally spelled out that once today’s semi-final exchange was over – and it is by no means a formality that the Bucks will buckle after previous encounters have seen the Shropshire lads overturn seemingly implausible deficits – all his playing roster are performing for their KitKat Crescent futures.

After the knockout clash, and whether Wembley is theirs or not, City’s players have been given a gift-wrapped Foyle warning of: “Nobody will be cup-tied so, whoever gets the shirt, it’s theirs to keep.”

Now that means the shirt is theirs to keep beyond this season to the next, not simply for Wembley, because once the May 9 date arrives Foyle’s job grows increasingly difficult if Blue Square Premier safety has not been assured before the capital build-up.

Bizarrely, the clamour against Foyle has grown among certain City supporters. Yet the manager has been hampered, hamstrung and hammered by the unpalatable fact that he has had to chop and change the City ranks from league campaign to cup run.

Foyle, therefore, has been cruelly deprived of the basic rights craved for by every manager worth his salt – his own team with his own stamp on it and a settled line-up.

That will not be the preserve of the current City boss until a Wembley place is secured and head-on concentration can then be focused on the grave business of staying in the Blue Square Premier.

Swapping players, indeed, formations around to accommodate cup-tied players could not be a worse preparation for any manager. Even those accorded superlative resources among the elite clubs of the English game do not rotate too much. At this level it is almost suicidal.

Yet Foyle has made the best of that two-pronged dilemma. His players, at least those who can appear in the cup, can help to provide the much-needed shot in the arm by sealing a coveted place at Wembley and then allowing the City backroom team to advance its most vital role – remaining as a Conference club.

Who would have thought that sentence could have been written about the Minstermen in the wake of their one previous appearance at Wembley’s dreamland?