Tuesday, 11 October 2011

York City - Bootham Crescent

York City FC
Bootham Crescent
YO30 7AQ

Matchday Number: 155
Wednesday 7th April 2010
York City 5-0 AFC Wimbledon
Blue Square Premier


YORK CITY were formed in 1908 spending 7 seasons in non league football before folding. They reformed in 1922 picking up in the Midland League where the previous club had played. They were elected to the Football League in 1929 and have spent almost all their history in the bottom 2 rungs of the competition. That was apart from the high point of their history in the mid 70's where they spent 2 seasons in the second tier with a record finish of 15th in 1974/75. Conversely, their lowest ebb was between 2004 and 2012 with them finishing as low as 17th on a couple of occasions.

In the FA Cup the club got as far as the FA Cup Quarter Final in 1937/38, losing out in a replay to Huddersfield Town. They also made the League Cup Quarter Final in 1962 before losing out to Rochdale. They enjoyed a happy end to their stay in non league football, beating Newport County in the 2012 final having previously lost at Wembley to Stevenage Borough in the 2009 final. The area semi-final remains their best progress in the Football League Trophy to date - they lost out to Rotherham United in the 1995/96 season.


At the time of visiting, York City's Bootham Crescent ground was one of the few grounds I had yet to visit in the Blue Square Premier, at least for taking photos. So when the chance came up to travel up on the AFC Wimbledon supporters coach for the bargain price of £15, I jumped at the chance.

We left The Fans Stadium, Kingsmeadow at the early time of 11am for the 7.45pm kick off, though this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as you will find out later. We stopped at services for the drivers break around about 1, as per usual it was as boring as could be, so I was glad when we were finally on our way. We got to York just after 4pm and were dropped off in the town centre. York is a fantastic town for pubs, far and away the best place I have been to. After a pint at the Sam Smith's pub, The York Arms, I headed off to the main attraction. The Maltings is near the train station and has a great selection of 30 real ales and 10 real ciders. After a few pints of cider it was getting on for 6.30, and so I decided to head off for something to eat and to find the ground. That was the plan anyway, but the streets of York are a bit confusing at the best of times if you are not a local. After walking round in what seemed like circles for ages, I gave up and got a taxi to the ground, still hungry as I hadn't found anything to eat that had taken my fancy. I thought there would be a chippy or something near the ground, but it was not to be. So I had to settle for the overpriced and tasteless rubbish they serve in the ground.
The game itself was a bit of a disaster for AFC Wimbledon. I joined their fans in the open terrace and watched as they were hammered by their play-off rivals, by 5 goals to none. Richard Brodie was the main tormentor, scoring a hat trick. Despite the scoreline, Wombles fans remained in good spirits throughout. After the game, we were told to meet back in the town centre, but after waiting till about 10.30 at the designated point, the coach still hadn't turned up. It turned out the driver had changed his mind and waited outside the ground, but eventually realized that only a few passengers were on the bus. So he drove down and picked the rest of us up. The late departure, coupled with a rest stop for the driver on the way home, and the fact that I had to drive home from South London meant that I didn't get to bed until 4.15am that night. Having been up 24 hours, I was glad that I didn't have work the next morning!

VISIT 2: YORK 1-3 WYCOMBE (L2 18/08/12)

My second visit to York came at the start of the 2012/13 season under Gary Waddock. This was just about the only highlight of a torrid start to the season which would see the ginger plank get the sack little over a month later. I drove to the game with mates Paul Sue and Andy with the latter insisting that we stop at his beloved Leeds United to get a programme, insisting it would only be a 'small detour' It proved to be more than that, about 30 miles in fact, plus we stopped at a few random non league grounds like Tadcaster Albion so I could get some pictures.

Even so, our very early start meant that we still got there before 12 and so after grabbing a handy free parking space outside the local church near the ground, we made our way into town. As I was driving I was restricted in what I could drink, even so I still enjoyed a couple in my favourite Maltings pub. I walked back to the ground via a takeaway. Goals from Matt Bloomfield, Stuart Beavon and a stunning 40 yard strike from debutant Sam Wood were enough to beat the Minstermen who replied through Jason Walker. Amazingly it was the first time Wycombe had won on the road on the opening day for 35 years with the previous success being a 2-1 win over Croydon in 1977. It was not a great start for York who were playing their first game back in the Football League after an 8 year hiatus in non league football. 

VISIT 3: YORK 1-1 WYCOMBE (L2 09/04/16)

Long before the season started I’d decided that if at all possible, I’d be visiting York again. The ground would be going soon and was a classic. But the main reason was the pubs. York had an absolute ton of brilliant places to drink and I’d have a job whittling them down to the select few. The problem was getting up there. Usually I’d driven which would severely restrict my drinking. The ideal option would be the train, but they wanted £90 return for a journey that would involve a replacement bus service for much of the route. Luckily the Independent Supporters Club enjoyed a drink as much as I do. Usually they stopped at a isolated place miles away, but as luck would have it they were stopping in York. It would still mean a bit of a walk as they were stopping on the outskirts, but it would still work out great value. I booked pre match before the AFC Wimbledon game and was really looking forward to the day. Sadly the team did as much as possible to dampen my enthusiasm as they turned in a terrible display against one of their bogey teams. I’d probably not have bothered had I had foresight of the performance that day, but what was done was done, and I was going to make the best of it. I made a list of pubs to visit below, so think of this of a mini pub guide to York, with the emphasis on cider.

I woke at 6.30 on the day of the game, pretty tired after not getting to sleep until around 2am the previous night. I got ready and got my things together but before I set off I wanted to get a paper for the Grand National race card. With that bought, I made my way to the pick up point for the coach at 7.30am. A couple of pickups later we were on our way but not until around 8.10 as we had a latecomer due to some confusion over the departure time. It was a long old trip up north so I had various things to pass the time. We had a stop at Tibshelf services for the toilet and to be honest that's all places like this are useful for. It took what seemed an eternity to get there but around 12.20 we arrived.

MALTINGS (Tanners Moat, YO1 6HU)

This was my usual haunt during my previous 2 trips to York, and the fact that I had not chosen to leave for somewhere else despite the amazing choice spoke volumes. Located near the train station it had a good choice of real cider and catered for just about every other taste too. Not much had changed here, with the same ciders as I'd had last time. I had a glass of Special Reserve cider by Biddendens at a huge 13% but it was the only one I'd not had before.

PUNCH BOWL (5-9 Blossom Street, YO24 1AU)

I’d been in the habit of ticking Wetherspoons, and seeing as I’d need to eat, I decided to call in here as well. There were actually 2 in town, but I’d decided to call into the one that was most in line with the route I’d be taking. A couple of cock ups ensued. Firstly I went to the wrong 'Punch Bowl' which was in the opposite direction which was a Nicholsons pub. Secondly I missed the Black Dragon cider pump and got tied into a meal deal. I had a double brunch burger which was huge and helped soak up the booze, with Thatchers Gold. I also had a pint of Black Dragon before leaving, using up one of my CAMRA vouchers along the way.


I recalled this from a fellow groundhoppers blog, and could not resist visiting a place with a name like this. That and the fact that it had a great choice of cider, both on draught and bottled. Randomly this reminded me of listening to some Kenny Everett tapes when I was younger, and a song by former ‘This Is Your Life’ presenter Eamonn Andrews called ‘The Shifting Whispering Sands’ which was voted as one of the worst records of all time.  Anyway true to form it was a walk back towards the 'wrong' punch bowl. There I had a pint of Ampleforth Abbey and was hoping for a cash machine on the way to the ground. 

After my pub crawl I struggled to find a cash machine and as a consequence arrived 6 minutes into the game. I wish I'd stayed in the pub as Wycombe turned in another awful performance and were very lucky to get a 1-1 draw. The grand national was after the game but I didn't know what happened till we got to Tamworth services as the booze had sent me to sleep. I didn't bother looking at the results, just my betting balance which was up to over £90 which meant a £30 profit on the race. Greggs were closed the lazy sods, so I made do with a load of Chicken to celebrate from Marks and Spencer. From there the journey was not bad with us getting off the M40 at 9.40 and even with lots of drop offs I was back home well in time for Match of the Day.

BOOTHAM CRESCENT is a classic football ground, and one of the more traditional venues I have been to. The visitors are allocated an uncovered terrace which is the most basic part of the ground. The rest of the ground is covered. At the opposite end is the Dave Longhurst stand, a terrace, while along both sides are seated. With a capacity of just under 10,000 York are unlikely to need to expand in the near future. That said, plans are afoot to leave this iconic venue and move to a new ground with the relocation expected to happen sometime in 2017 or 18.

The food inside the ground is pretty naff, with it being the standard franchised out, overpriced mediocrity that you come to expect with football league clubs. I didn't see a huge amount around the ground and a chippy I had previously seen recommended has now closed. The town is just under a mile away, so is probably your best option for eating. As for liquid refreshment, you will be in heaven. Prior to my latest visit I'd only tried the Maltings which was excellent. However York is a haven for drinking and you are spoilt for choice. I've reported my findings on a few places above.

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