TAKE a look at York City’s history and it quickly becomes apparent that Bootham Crescent’s child prodigies have experienced mixed fortunes in the game.

For every Marco Gabbiadini, Colin Addison and Reg Stockill, there’s a Lev Yalcin, Lee Grant and Scott Jordan, who have struggled to fulfil their baby-faced potential, as our profiles of the top-ten youngest players to turn out for the Minstermen illustrates.

This week’s loan move of Pocklington-born defender Michael Woods from Chelsea to Notts County also served as a reminder, if needed, that schoolboy rave reviews matter little in the wider world of professional football.

Woods – the grandson of former City stalwart Alan – was snapped up from Leeds by the Stamford Bridge club at the age of 16 – but, four years on, is now hoping to make an impact at League One level having not made a single Premiership appearance for the Blues.

Last season, another one-time Chelsea starlet Courtney Pitt, monitored by Monaco and Barcelona in his teens, blew hot and cold for the Minstermen and has since turned up at Telford after an unsuccessful trial with Forest Green Rovers.

On-loan Leicester striker Ashley Chambers, though, might just succeed where Pitt failed. Chambers made his professional debut at an age – 15 years and 203 days – when most of us were battling to contend with the demands of a morning paper round but his mature performances for the Minstermen, including a goal, two assists and The Press man-of-the-match award during his first three outings, have led manager Gary Mills to believe he could be belatedly benefiting from his early baptism in football.

Now 20, Chambers might be operating at a lower level than once predicted by former Foxes manager and current Scotland chief Craig Levein but Mills, still the youngest-ever participant in a European Cup or Champions League final, feels he still has time to deliver on that promise.

The City boss said: “It’s fantastic to break into the first team at a young age. I played under a genius in Brian Clough at a similar age to Ash.

“He played me in the reserves at 14 so I would be ready to make my debut against Arsenal and then play against AEK Athens in the European Cup two years later. I was man enough to go and make my debut for the first team at the age of 16 because the manager thought I was ready.

“I like the look of Ashley. He’s still young but is probably more of a man than others will be at his age because he’s had that vital and invaluable experience of playing men’s football at an early age.”

Injuries and managerial changes often play their part in any tale of wonderkids disappearing into the wilderness and it transpires that both have figured in Chambers’ fledgling career.

About the years since creating club history at Leicester in a 2005 League Cup tie against Blackpool, the speedy striker told the Diary: “It’s been frustrating not to have kicked on, having made my debut at 15 and been full-time since 16 but, when Craig Levein got the sack, that put a dampener on things a bit.

“I then had a few bad injuries at 16 and, at 17, when it looked like I would break through after Leicester had been relegated into League One, I broke my ankle three days before the start of the season.

“But that’s all in the past now and I’ve come to York to get things back on track.”

City’s top ten youngest ever players

1. Reg Stockill 15 years 281 days: Right-winger who played for England Schoolboys and scored City’s first-ever goal in the Football League. Amazingly, with further first-team chances limited, was allowed to leave for Scarborough. Went on to play for Arsenal and Derby, who he helped finish first division runners-up.

2. Lee Grant 16 yrs 106 days: Centre-back who joined Aston Villa after one brief substitute outing for City. Played in FA Youth Cup final featuring future England internationals Adam Johnson, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Gary Cahill and David Wheater. Returned to York during City’s first Conference season but drifted out of the game after a subsequent trial with Southport.

3. Mick Astbury 16 yrs 298 days: Played in the famous FA Cup final victory over Arsenal and later ties against Liverpool. Had a spell as City’s number one before plying the lower leagues with the likes of Peterborough, Darlington, Chester and Chesterfield.

4. Marco Gabbiadini 17 yrs 67 days: Hit a hat-trick for City at the tender age of 18 after becoming the first apprentice to turn professional under Denis Smith, who later took him to Sunderland. City made £750,000 when Gabbiadini moved on to Crystal Palace for £1.8million as part of a sell-on clause. He bagged a total of 226 League goals during a prolific career.

5. Scott Jordan 17 yrs 90 days: Scored the goal that ultimately saw off the challenge of Manchester United in City’s famous 1995 League Cup victory. Previously been a much-heralded member of the City team that reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup. Moved to Scarborough, though, before leaving the professional game at the age of 27.

6. Steve Tutill 17 yrs 97 days: Former England schoolboy international, who once attracted the interest of Manchester United. Went on to become City skipper and served the club with distinction for a decade before joining Darlington.

7. Colin Addison 17 yrs 119 days: Played in the 1958/9 division four promotion-winning side before leaving for a then club record £12,000 to Nottingham Forest. Went on to join Arsenal and Sheffield United before achieving success as the manager who guided Hereford to one of the biggest FA Cup shocks over Newcastle. Also Ron Atkinson’s number two.

8. Adam Boyes 17 yrs 135 days: Tracked by the likes of Manchester United, Middlesbrough and Tottenham after breaking into City’s Conference side. Only has one 89th-minute appearance to show for his 17 months at Scunthorpe since a six-figure transfer though.

9. Lev Yalcin 17 yrs 173 days: Former Turkish youth international who was pursued by top clubs in that country and Belgium before failing to come to terms with non-League football at City. Now combines playing for Stokesley with working on North Sea oil rigs.

10. Glenn Naylor 17 yrs 190 days: Enjoyed a respectable strike-rate after breaking through at City with 32 goals from 87 starts. Left for Darlington, however, after finding it difficult to nail down a regular place at his home-city club.

Statistics provided by Dave Batters

McGurk pushes on

DAVID McGurk closed the gap on The Press Player of the Year joint leaders Alex Lawless and Daniel Parslow to three points after Tuesday’s 2-0 home win over Southport.

Despite handing in a written transfer request, McGurk has maintained his high standards in a City shirt and was our third-highest rated player against Southport, earning him a point.

Man-of-the-match Peter Till (three points) and David McDermott (two) were also recognised.

Ashley Chambers, meanwhile, collected the two Player of the Month bonus points on offer to the player who received the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.

In last weekend’s 4-0 win at Rushden, the Press points went to Danny Racchi (three), Michael Rankine (two) and Ashley Chambers (one). Racchi also topped the online poll.

Don’t forget to cast your man-of-the-match vote for future matches to be in with a chance of presenting the Player of the Month with a framed photograph on the pitch before a home game.