SIXTY years on from York City’s historic FA Cup semi-final tussles with Newcastle, Happy Wanderers’ legend Tommy Forgan still looks back on the team’s achievements with pride rather than any regret at missing out on his only chance of playing at Wembley.

Forgan, now 85 and living in Australia where he emigrated in 1974, is the only surviving member of the famous side that drew 1-1 with the Magpies at Hillsborough before losing the replay 2-0 at Roker Park.

In doing so, City became the first club from the old third division to be one of the final four teams left in world football’s premier knockout competition and, during a rare and exclusive interview, Forgan has been sharing his memories of those glorious times with The Press.

Thursday marked the diamond anniversary of the initial last-four clash against Jackie Milburn et al and Monday for the replayed tie.

Forgan said: “We were all proud of what we achieved in the Cup run. It would have been a lifetime ambition to play at Wembley in a Cup final but, while we didn’t quite make it, it’s nice to look back on the good things we achieved and not what could have been.”

For the first game, City’s preparations were hindered by an injury to magical inside-forward Sid Storey, who had played during every match on the march to the semi-finals.

His place was taken by Sam McNab - playing by far the most important game of his 20 appearances for York.

City subsequently fell behind at the home of Sheffield Wednesday when Vic Keeble slipped the ball past Forgan on 14 minutes. Keeble also went close again before the underdogs levelled after half-an-hour.

Master marksman Arthur Bottom scored his eighth goal of the Cup run when he robbed Jimmy Scoular of possession in midfield and ran 30 yards before drawing Ron Simpson out of goal and placing the ball into an empty net.

Milburn shot over from point-blank range in the second half and Billy Fenton shot straight at Simpson before an almighty 80th-minute scramble saw Bottom’s header scooped away by the Newcastle keeper’s despairing one-handed save.

Many City fans swore the ball had crossed the line but, before his death, Bottom ended decades of uncertainty on the game’s golden anniversary when he confirmed the officials made the right decision.

Forgan still has vivid recollections, saying: “It was a big blow to lose Sid before the first semi-final.

He was a very important part of the team with his ability to hold on to the ball and set up play.

“Sammy McNab was a good player but no Sid Storey. For the game itself, it was the first time I had played in front of 65,000 people and, when we ran out of the tunnel, the noise was unbelievable.

“After the warm up and the whistle blew to start the game, the noise was just as loud, as was the encouragement, but it was all about concentrating on the game then for the players. I don’t think Vic Keeble’s goal was a classic and, on another day, I might have got to the ball.

“I think perseverance was then the reason for Arthur Bottom’s equaliser. Once he got onto the ball, he took a lot of knocking off and was very reliable when it came to scoring. We came very close to winning the game and it could have gone either way. We weren’t over-awed at all and did the third division proud. I had a fair bit to do in the game, but certainly not as much as I was expecting.”

Storey was back in for the replay but City suffered another stroke of ill fortune when centre-half Alan Stewart suffered a badly-cut head just after half-time and, following a 12-minute absence, he had to finish the game on the right wing.

Newcastle won the game following Len White’s third-minute effort and a Keeble goal with one of the last kicks of the match.

In the days of no substitutes, Forgan reasoned that Stewart’s injury played an important role in City’s brave defeat. The club’s all-time clean sheet record holder, with 120, explained: “We were all looking forward to the replay as we felt we had every chance of getting to the final if we hit top form.

“The loss of Alan Stewart so early in the game was a tremendous blow as he was a tower of strength. I also think I could have done a bit better with the second goal but that’s what happens sometimes.”

Having dispatched two of the English game’s leading lights at the time - Blackpool and Tottenham - earlier in the tournament, City put some of the sport’s biggest names to the sword but one adversary stood out, in particular for Forgan.

“During that run, we played against some great international players like Alf Ramsey, Jackie Milburn and Danny Blanchflower and, after the matches, everyone of them congratulated the boys for the football they played,” Forgan remembered. “There was no kick and rush, just good attacking football.

“But I got the most pleasure from playing against Stan Matthews. As a teenager, I supported Middlesbrough so, when Blackpool and the Boro played each other, it was always billed as left-back (George) Hardwick v right-winger Matthews because they were both England players.

“It never happened because every year one was injured. But, in 1955, instead of watching him, I was playing against him. What a thrill.”