York City Year Review - 2021
The end of 2021 marks the end of a hectic roller coaster of a year for York City.
In January, the focus was barely on the football as only one match took place in that month - a 2-2 draw away at Kidderminster. In the middle of a covid crisis, postponed games were the least of City fans' worries, as they prepared to say goodbye to their beloved Bootham Crescent. Without being given the sendoff it deserved, media officer Dan Simmonite released a real tear-jerker video to bid farewell to historic ground, and it incredibly reached over 1.2 million views!
February was the start of a new era for the club - York City Football Club officially made the LNER Community Stadium their home on the 16th February when they played host to recently relegated AFC Fylde. Bruce McIntosh who had supported the team for 91 years was given the role of virtual mascot and in a Covid secure way, he walked out the tunnel with captain Sean Newton. Unfortunately for City, the game ended in a 3-1 loss but Newton did get the consolation.
Following the game, the season was declared null and void and the opening fixture at the new stadium being wiped out from the records.
Then July rolled around and York were playing pre-season friendlies again. With the likes of Clayton Donaldson and Kurt Willoughby to the squad, one of the best pre-season campaigns was carried out. An unbeaten run of 6 games included wins over minnows Whitby and Ossett whilst Steve Watson's Minstermen also conquered the North-East, picking up fantastic wins at home to Premier League Newcastle and Championship Middlesbrough plus a draw against Sunderland too. During the course of the three home games, the club recorded yet another social media statistic, with over 300,000 people from around the world watching on YouTube.
The National League North season kicked off for real in August when City hosted promotion rivals Kidderminster Harriers. Pre season success turned out to be just a dream when, despite a Mackenzie Heaney equaliser, The Minstermen fell victim to a late winner at the LNER. York City really didn't hit the heights that were expected of them as they began the season with three consecutive losses, most notably a 4-0 drubbing by Gloucester. However things started to change on Bank Holiday Monday when City battled out a 3-1 win at Spennymoor.
After a crucial win to end the previous month, September started on a high. Steve Watson's side were scoring goals for fun in a 4-2 win over Farsley Celtic and a brace from Clayton Donaldson secured three points at rivals Darlington. Sandwiched in between the two results, York began their FA Cup campaign with a win against lower league opposition in Hebburn Town.
Whilst continuing on the road to Wembley in October, The Minstermen hit 3 past Southport in front of a big crowd of 3199 at the new stadium. Yet another vital win came City's way as Mark Beck's goal confirmed another three points in the so called 'Walled City Derby' against Chester. The month ended on a record win at the LNER Community Stadium with four goals to overcome a very substandard Blyth Spartans side.
In the penultimate month of the year, fans were given the chance to say a final farewell to a partly destroyed Bootham Crescent over two days which saw over 2500 people come from all over the country before the gates closed for one last time. On the pitch, things weren't so great. After drawing yet another lower league side at home in the FA Cup First Round, York City failed to even score as Buxton came away 1-0 winners, thanks to a late goal from former Minsterman De Girolamo. The bad run of form continued and things took a turn for the worst when a stalemate at Curzon Ashton meant City had failed to score in three consecutive games. This sparked a change at the helm with Steve Watson departing the club and an experienced John Askey taking the role of interim manager.
Although Askey didn't begin his tenure the way he wanted, his first win did come, and in some fashion too, to welcome in December! A local away day at Guiseley ended in delight for The Minstermen, courtesy of a late screamer from Kurt Willoughby. A night game at Gateshead ended in a disappointing 2-0 but it turned out to be just a slip up as City got back on track in front of a record attendance - 4,512 (the highest in nearly 6 years!). The huge crowd saw 10-man City play out a 1-1 draw at home to high flying Chorley. A second victory in the FA Trophy away to Matlock confirmed a place in the Fourth Round before the final game of the year. Prior to the game, the South Stand was renamed the Nfinnerty Stand and a tribute to the late David Longhurst was included in the new red and blue decoration. Alfreton were the visitors and a great team goal finished off by Paddy McLaughlin ended the year on a high for York City.
Goodbye 2021. Hello 2022. Here's to a much better year for everyone and for The Minstermen. City can kick-start the new year on Sunday 2nd January with three points at home to Bradford Park Avenue.
Happy New Year!