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York City Guy Mowbray


Childhood Memories

I’ve been watching York City since 1979 but I’ve been aware of them as far back as I can remember anything. My Dad was a prominent sporting personality in the area, he played rugby and cricket to a good standard, he was a P.E. Teacher and qualifieid football coach, he knew everybody and everybody seemed to know him. He went to watch York City all the way through his childhood, he was there in the 1930’s when they had the record attendance at Bootham Crescent. As was common place in those days, it was a mid week afternoon game, him and a few mates jibbed off school to watch York play Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup in front of over 28,000. He told me lots of stories about the club, I remember so many of them, I was brought up on them. He used to go to the FA Cup Final every year.

The first proper football story I remember being told was from 1956 when Bert Trautmann broke his neck. The whole background of being a German Paratrooper, being a prisoner of war and the whole story of this fantastic man. That was really what started the football bug for me.

My first game at Bootham Crescent

The first game I ever went to was York City v Peterborough United in 1979. I’ve actually had to look it up as I don’t have any memory of the match. My brother, who is nine years older than me, but not a great football fan, took me. I was six years old and I just remember being freezing cold, absolutely no memory of the game itself, no Fever Pitch type moment of seeing the pitch and the grass and being hooked. None of that!

The next match I recall going to was on my eighth birthday. York City v Portsmouth. I could probably take you to the exact seat I sat in as we paid the extra 20p to get our transfer from the Shipton Street end to sit in the seats My one abiding memory of the game, which I went to with a couple of my friends, was my Dad pointing out to me the Portsmouth goalkeeper, a tall blonde bloke. He said “That’s Mellor and he played in goal for Fulham in the Cup Final a few years ago”. He played in the 1975 final against West Ham. Pretty much the only memory I have from that game, although I have one other memory which is pertinent to my job now. I was introduced to Malcolm Huntington who was the chief sportswriter for the Yorkshire Evening Press and who covered York City basically all his life. He was also a tennis umpire and umpired each year at Wimbledon, so was quite a prominent person in the area. Maybe that meeting had more of an impression on me and some bearing on what I now do for a living!

Greatest Match

The undoubted big highlight of watching the Minstermen as a fan, has to be the win over Arsenal in the FA Cup. That was incredible. Absolutely incredible. As a teenager, I remember getting up at 3 or 4AM to go queue for tickets with a friend and his parents and queuing right round the outside of the ground, standing near the Imphal Barracks. There were flasks of soup and a great atmosphere as the ticket office opened at 9AM. We did exactly the same for the next round against Liverpool. And the same the year after when we played Liverpool again!

I was right behind the dugout for the Arsenal game. I went with my sister. Bizarrely enough I’m actually on the Match of the Day footage, brushing snow on to the heads of the people sitting in the dugout. I think I was busy waving everybody back after we scored the penalty, in true manager fashion, thinking I knew everything that was going on. I can still see the foul by Steve Williams and Keith Houchen tucking away the spot kick. I can see the whole of the Shipton Street End jumping up. It’s the first time I can remember a whole end of a ground just jumping in unison and the resulting piling forward. I know that was dangerous and wouldn’t happen now with all-seater stadiums, which have been a great advance for the game, but I do miss that surge when a goal went in. That surge would go right down the terracing and I was caught in many of those over the years.

Beating Arsenal is definitely my best memory, but there have been so many. Our first trip to Wembley, beating Crewe Alexander in the 1993 play-off final. I was actually working down in London at the time, during a brief ill-fated spell. I was staying in my Brother’s flat and my mates came down to stay with me for the weekend. What an amazing day, beating Crewe on penalties. Fabulous.

Away Games And The Best Red Card Ever

Going to away games was always a treat and brought real excitement. When you are 18, 19, 20, heading off with your mates. Sitting outside the pub in glorious sunshine befvore the game at Barnet, to then basically seal promotion, with Paul Barnes scoring a hat-trick, in fact he might well have got four in our 5-1 win that day. Away trips to grounds such as Feethams. A trip to Doncaster Rovers when I first experienced being treated as almost sub-human when we were marched into a pen right in the middle behind the goal. It was almost like a sheep pen, caged in. The memory I have of that game though is of one of the best sendings off I’ve ever seen. Simon Mills, who we’d signed from Sheffield Wednesday, a great footballer who really should of made more of his talent, he was a really cultured midfielder but had a real tackle on him as well. I can picture him now, setting off, from around the centre spot, at full pelt towards the touchline, to make a tackle on Doncaster’s left back who was advancing up the pitch. Mills slid in and took everything out. The left back ended virtually half way down the tunnel. It was right by the dugouts. At the end of his slide, having taken everybody out, got up and just kept on walking down the tunnel. He didn’t even bother waiting for the red card! When we got back to Bootham Crescent, he’d got a lift back with a mate, way ahead of all the rest of the team and as he got out of the car we all just stood and applauded him for the best red card ever!

I try not to remember us going down and experiencing eight long years of non league football. Thankfully I’m quite selective with my memories and don’t recall any of that time, I was busy doing other things……..

Guy Mowbray

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1 Comment (Add your voice)

Well said Guy; as my first game was York v Stockport (78/79 season i think) I feel like we've got roughly the same history of watching our beloved YCFC. Along with the many great games that the team of the early/mid 80's gave us, I'd have to say that beating Man U 3v0 at Old Trafford in ?1994 takes some beating. Going in 1v0 up at half time, I told my son to take in the panorama of Old Trafford and savour the moment as we were bound to get thumped in the second half. And, lo and behold, we stuck another 2 past them! I remember the following round, v QPR at Loftus Road, being marked by the City fans singing at the tops of their voices from start to finish - still the best example of football support i have experienced. Happy days!

– Paul Butler, March 26 2015 at 22:09

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Guy Mowbray is supporting the Sporting Memories NetworkGuy Mowbray is supporting the Sporting Memories Network