Sunday, 23 September 2012

1st class city, 3rd class football

Saturday 22nd September 2012
Football League 2
Bootham Crescent, York

Before the season began and the fixtures released this was one away fixture for Cheltenham Town that was the number one priority. Why you may ask do you want to visit York City FC for a Cheltenham game, when you could visit it any time? The answer is simply that, (regular readers will be able to answer this) I have a good friend who supports Cheltenham and this gives us an excuse to meet up. Also York are planning to leave their home on Bootham Crescent to a new venture adjacent to the Monks Cross Retail Park. Details of which can be found here: new stadium

Getting to York itself involved a 117 mile drive each way or getting the train. With the fuel costs as it is and the fact I would be going on my own the costs were very similar, but in the end I opted for the latter and booked the tickets six weeks ago. It cost £43 return going first class - with it being only £9 dearer this would be money well spent as I would be on the train for around 2 hours 20 minutes. Also  my journey each way would be direct which is very rare, as nearly all of the journeys to York from Leicester involve changing trains in either Derby and / or Sheffield.

York is a walled city and has a population of 202,400 inhabitants. It is one of England's most historic cities and has plenty of attractions that show off its heritage. It was founded by the Romans in 71AD under the name of Eboracum, and became the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and of the Kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. In the Middle Ages York became a major wool trading centre.
York Minster
York Tap
The city has excellent transport links whether it be via road or rail. The A64 links York to both the A1(M) and M1 motorways which are around 10 miles (16 km) away, while it has been a major railway centre since the first line arrived in 1839. The nearest airport, Leeds / Bradford is thirty one miles away.

To go into detail the city's tourist attractions here would take too much time, but instead I there are some links to five of them:

York Minster - the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe.

Further information on the city can be found on the visit York website.

The club were first founded in 1908 as an amateur side and joined the Northern League (NL). Two seasons were spent in the NL, finishing in 11th and 12th place respectively, before they joined the Yorkshire Combination. In 1912 they turned professional and joined the Midland League (ML). Only three seasons were spent in the ML due to the start of the First World War and the club subsequently folded in 1917.

The club reformed in 1922 joining the Midland League in the process. A highest place finish of 6th place was achieved in their seven seasons before they were elected to the Football League (FL). Most of their time in the FL was spent in the lower divisions, though they did spend two years in division two in the mid-1970's. In 2004 the club were relegated to the Football Conference, the top tier of the non-league game. Their stay out of the FL lasted eight years as in 2012 they were promoted back to the FL via the play-offs.

The form book suggests this will be a close game with only two points seperating the two teams in the League 2 table. York are without a win in three and suffered a 3-1 reverse @ Burton Albion in midweek. Cheltenham come into the game on the back of a 2-1 victory at home to Oxford United on Tuesday night, but prior to this had picked up just one point from their three previous league games. Cheltenham are also unbeaten in their three league away games so far.

On this information my prediction is an away win by a score of 2-1. The bookies make York favourites to come out on top, and as at 10pm on Friday night have it as follows:

York to win: 11/8; draw: 23/10; Cheltenham to win: 19/10.

Well if goes to show what I know about football!!!!

The ground is located in the northern part of the city and is surrounded by housing. It was opened in 1932 and currently has a capacity of 7,872, though a record attendance of 28,123 was recorded in 1938 for an FA Cup tie against Huddersfield Town. It is easy to see why they would like to relocated to a new stadium as their revenue streams are very much limited to match days only, and they would be also restricted as to any development of the current site.

the match day programme
Before I write about the day itself and the game a useless fact for you - this will be the eight time I have seen Cheltenham play away from the home. The first four (Notts County, Northampton, Nottingham Forest and Leicester) all resulted in defeats and not a goal to show for it. The fifth, at Burton Albion looked liked going the same way at half time as they were two down. An amazing turn around that saw the game end 5-6. Next up was a trip to Spurs for an FA Cup tie which was a 3-0 loss, and finally back in February I saw Cheltenham dismantle Dagenham & Redbridge 5-0

The day started early as, firstly with a five minute walk to catch the Arriva 51 service into Leicester at 7am. This would get me into the city in plenty of time to get to station for the 0750 East Midlands Trains service that would take me direct to York. In fact I would be catching the only direct train between Leicester and York and vise-versa today, as the train would be sitting at York station until the departure back at 1755.

Arrival in York was at the scheduled time of 1015 and Colin met me some fifteen minutes later. The first port of call was one of the two JD Weatherspoon outlets, The Punchbowl for some breakfast. We then had a walk round the city for a couple of hours taking in the sights before visiting the second of the afore mentioned chain of pubs, The Postern Gate for some liquid refreshment. York obviously gets a lot of tourists but it was even busier today as there was a food and drink festival on in the city. It was then a case of heading in the general direction of the ground, diverting here and there to have a look at more of the city. We arrived at the ground with around an hour to kick-off. The away fans are housed on an open terrace and part of the Popular Stand to the left. This is all seated and runs the whole length of the pitch. Opposite is the main stand which is the largest of the stands at the ground, but only runs for about 2/3 of the pitch length. Opposite the away terrace is the David Longhurst Stand which is fully covered , and like the other two covered stands has a number of supporting pillars restricting the sightlines somewhat.

We decided to eat at the ground which in my opinion was not a wise decision. I paid £3.30 for a hot dog and regretted it. It was one of those that you heat up in boiling water and was tastleless - for the price you should expect and get something more edible. My advice is to eat in one of the many food outlets in the city centre before arriving at the ground.

The game was not the best advert for professional football. Cheltenham resulted in a hoof it up to the big man up front approach and got very little success from it. When they did the ball down and pass it around they looked a decent side, but alas this was not often. York played the better football with Michael Coulson looking dangerous on the right hand side of midfield. Defences though were on top of clear cut chances were at a premium. York were the better side in the second half causing the visiting defence problems, but everything was dealt with. The closest Cheltenham came to making the breakthough was with around fifteen minutes left. Substitute Kaid Mohamed's shot hit the underside of the bar and bounced onto the line before being cleared. No need for the goalline technology debate on this one!!!

A hard fought point for both sides with the visitors no doubt being the more happier. If either side is to make a push for promotion come the end of the season they will have to play better than this.

A walk of around fifteen to twenty minutes back to the station followed. I had some time on my side, while Colin was catching a train to Harrogate to spend the evening with family before heading back to Cheltenham on the Sunday morning. With this time to kill I made my way to the York Tap - a real ale house that is inside the station. It has over thirty beers on offer and it was difficult to choose. In the end I went for the Bernard Dark at 5.1% and very nice it was too. Just a shame I did not have any more time to try some more of the beers on offer. A must visit for any beer lovers.

There were delays of around fifteen minutes caused by signalling problems in the Sheffield area, but this did not impede me in getting my bus back to Braunstone, and I was home just before 9pm.

A long but enjoyable day out in a fabulous city - just a shame that the football served did not match up.

Admission: £16
Programme: £3 - 52 pages A5 size. Very good effort - 4/5
Attendance: 3,477 (196 away)

A slideshow of twelve photos of the ground can be viewed below:

More photos of York itself can be viewed in another slideshow:
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