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City History - City Abroad

City Abroad

"Go west young man" was once a popular slogan in the pioneering days of old. Fame and fortune was to be found in America, the land of opportunity.

It still is. The American soccer leagues of the last 30 years have relied heavily on foreign talent. Big names have been attracted at the prospect of earning large sums of money in a short spell. For the player of a lesser grade, the same opportunities existed. The late 1960s and the early 1970s saw British players spending their close season on loan to American clubs. Later, players completed permanent transfers to America and Canada making it their permanent home.

To try to make Stateside soccer successful, large sums of money were paid to attract world stars. At one stage, the Americans even hired European and South American clubs to compete during their summer season, our close season. Unfortunately, City were not among the clubs chosen. Nevertheless, many City players have subsequently played soccer in The States.

Its interesting to look at some of the former City players who have tried their luck across the pond, especially those who played in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the nationwide league which covered the USA and Canada between 1968 and 1984.

Sibbald Stars Alongside Pele

Bobby Sibbald, was a steady right back who spent over 2 years with City. Earlier he had made 2 appearances in the star studded Leeds side of the 1960s and after City, he spent 5 seasons as a Southport regular before joining Los Angeles Aztecs on loan in 1975 and then permanently in 1977. In 5 seasons, he missed only 2 league games for them. In his last season he played in all 40 games which cumulated in defeat in the conference final. Coached by the famous Dutchman, Rinus Michels, he played alongside some of the most famous players in the world including Johan Cruyff, George Best, Rodney Marsh, Ron Davies, Charlie Cooke and Tommy Smith and against the likes of Pele. Such was the quality of the side that they regularly undertook close seasons tours of England playing top Division 1 sides.

Former City star (and son in law of Keith Usher) Cliff Calvert went one better. His Toronto Blizzard side won the last ever NASL championship in 1984. He spent 7 seasons with the club. When last heard of, he was still living in Toronto and working as a fireman. He still retains close links with Bootham Crescent. A colleague of Calvert's at Toronto was Peter Lorimer. He spent the 1979 and 1980 seasons in Toronto, playing for York City during his Canadian close season. Later he was to play for Vancouver Whitecaps alongside a large Leeds contingent coached by Johnny Giles. He was later to return to Leeds to break their all time goal scoring record. Surprisingly, he was not a prolific scorer in Canada.

One prolific scorer in The States was Andy Provan. He was top scorer for Philadelphia Atoms in their 1973 inaugural season as they won the championship. The Atoms were based around a large Southport contingent. He top scored for them again the following season. In 2 seasons he scored 21 goals in 40 games. Incidentally, the diminutive ginger haired Provan was a cult hero in his 4 years with City and is possibly best remembered for his goal against Bradford in September 1966, when chasing a through pass, he dribbled around the keeper, purposely fell to the ground and laying full length, he headed the ball into the net.

York Nomads

The itinerant and nomadic careers of soccer players is well illustrated by Bobby Bell, Mick Coop, Derek Craig, Peter Creamer, Mike Czuczman, Brian Joy, John Lowey, Barry Mitchell, Bob Newton, Mike Pickering, Neil Rioch, Malcolm Smith and Alan Waldron who all had City careers, mainly less than a season, and also played soccer Stateside.

Craig teamed up with Jimmy Johnstone and ex City star Laurie Calloway at San Jose Earthquakes. Calloway was a regular for 6 seasons for The Earthquakes. He is the only ex City player to coach in the NASL. In 1981, he was appointed California Surf coach. In 1983 he coached Seattle Sounders.

City Rejects Play Alongside World Stars

Brian Joy spent the best part of a season with City before returning to The States to play for Las Vegas Quicksilver with Eusebio. Mike Pickering spent a season with San Diego Sockers where the late Polish international Kazimierz Denya was a colleague. Mike Czuczman joined a San Jose side boasting George Best and Colin Bell. One of the first players with City connections to taste American soccer was Dennis Walker. A 1960s midfield player, he was a regular for Montreal Olympic in 1972 when a young Graeme Souness, on loan from Spurs, was a colleague. Another early taste of American soccer was achieved by Graham Brown. He spent 2 summers keeping goal for Portland Timbers before joining City, Peter Withe was a teammate.

Mickey Cave and Jim Hinch first tried America soccer with the minor league side Los Angeles Skyhawks in 1975. Cave made his NASL debut in 1977 with Seattle Sounders. He was their top scorer as they reached the championship final. He top scored again the following season when the late Bobby Moore was a teammate. Cave had 4 seasons with Seattle before moving into coaching minor league sides in Pittsburgh. Sadly, he died in 1984. Hinch later played for California Surf. 2 other strikers spent a season in the NASL around the same time. Ted MacDougall spent the summer of 1979 with Detroit Express and Viv Busby spent the following summer with Tulsa Roughnecks.

With the demise of NASL in the 1980s and subsequent focus on home develop players, some of the opportunities dried up, however they continue to exist in a plethora of junior leagues and collegiate football, with football being the preferred sport for many young Americans. Jon Maloney (our 2005 loanee from Doncaster) won a football scholarship to American after leaving City and spent 4 years playing for the University of Montevallo in Alabama, Ben Everson played for 3 junior USA clubs before joining City and Darren Tilley played soccer for Kitchener Waterloo between spells with Yate in Somerset.

Shrinking World

In later years, opportunities opened up elsewhere. Globetrotter, Darren Tilley also had a spell in China with his ex City colleague, Richard Crossley, arranged by their agent, Chris Galvin, Later, Derek Riordan also played in China. Dan McBreen played in both China and Australia.

In 1993, ex defender Kevan Smith, had a short spell playing for Maltese champions Sliema Wanderers, including making appearances in the early rounds of The European Cup. However, that wasn’t the first City connection with Sliema, as Jimmy McCormick played for them in 1950 and later managed in Turkey before being appointed City manager in September 1953.

Adrian Moke played in Portugal with Glenn Hoddle’s football academy before coming to City.

After City, left back, Graham Potter has carved out a successful career in Sweden as manager of Östersunds FK where one of his first teamers is Jamie Hopcutt, a young pro culled by Gary Mills in 2010.

In truth, the number of ex City players to have played abroad is probably far greater but includes the likes of Jimmy Sangere (Casablanca), Peter Lorimer (Toronto) and Shaun Pejic (Vancouver), Danny Racchi (Valur, Iceland), Gordon Connelly (non league football in Moscow) and Ben Everson (USA, Iceland and Sweden).

In 1982, Peter Aitken showed just how much the world had shrunk when after joining from crisis club Bristol City, he rejected a 1982/3 contract with York preferring a club nearer his Bristol home, which he found in Hong Kong, before returning to non league football in Bath.

City Coaches Abroad

2 former City players, Mickey Cave and Lawrie Calloway both had successful coaching stints in America. In the mid seventies, players often spent the English close season playing in the states. Mickey Cave being such a player, he eventually settled in the states, playing for Seattle and Los Angeles before coaching Pittsburgh.

Cast your minds back and you will recall that 3 former City managers coached abroad. Jimmy McCormick was appointed City's manager in June 1953 and spent just over a season with the club. Indeed, he was responsible for assembling the side that reached the FA Cup semi final in 1955. Prior to joining City he had coached in Norway, Malta and Turkey. Tom Johnston, arguably City's most successful ever manager, coached in Finland where he lead Valdokoski Harka to domestic FA Cup competition success. His successor at Bootham Crescent, Wilf McGuinness coached the leading Greek side, Aris Salonika between his spells managing at Old Trafford and Bootham Crescent.

Other York City coaching connections abroad have included Colin Addison who has managed across the world, including Durban (South Africa 1975/6), Qatar (1985/6), Kuwait (1992/3) and 4 clubs in Spain / Portugal, including Athletico Madrid.

Another former City hero, Malcolm Crosby had a spell coaching in Kuwait with Bobby Campbell after leaving City. The oil boom of the 1970s paved the way for many coaches to work in the middle east, often being paid vast sums to work with players who were not always the most committed in the world, Don Revie, Joe Kinnear and Dave Mackay being some of the most famous example.

After City, Terry Dolan and Adie Shaw had spells managing in Grenada.

City Abroad

City have played abroad on several occasions. The most famous being 1938 and 1955, both times as a reward for FA Cup success. A trip to Holland (October 1938), an 8-2 defeat to a Dutch National XI in Rotterdam) and in May 1955 where we drew 3-3 with Bohemians in Dublin's Dalymount Park and then beat Linfield 3-1 at Windsor Park (Belfast).

In the 1990s, the intermediate side visited Holland, once, if not twice to play in a youth competition.

In 1951, 2 League Of Ireland sides played City at Bootham Crescent in Festival Of Britain celebration games. We got them, bigger clubs seemed to get some of the biggest names in Europe at a time when there was no European club competitions.

In the 1970s, we hosted friendlies against Hvidovre (Copenhagen), a top Danish side, on 30th November 1971 and Valur (Iceland) a season later. After our successful 1973/4 promotion campaign, City enjoyed a post season break in Iceland where we beat top sides Keflavik (4-2) and Throtttur - Valour (3-1) before a 1-1 draw in a hastily arranged game against the Icelandic national side as the host nation sought desperately to beat a team newly promoted to Division 2.

The 1990s saw pre season trips to Dublin (1994), The Isle Of Wight (1992 and 1993) and Edinburgh (1997) in an era where a pre trips were common place. On the Isle Of Wight, John Uttley recalls playing football with David Icke (at the time a figurehead in IoW football who by then had become better known as a turquoise tracksuit clad "celebrity") and having pints bought by Douglas Craig for him and his friends. 1997 saw us featured on live TV on consecutive days as the fledgling cable channel "Live "TV", more famous for its Norwegian weather girls, provided live coverage of all 4 games in Livingston's pre season tournament live.

Foreigners At City

Over the years, City have had a number of foreigners playing for us. They include 2 Polishmen just after WW2 (Eryk Kubicki and Edouard Wojtczak), Leo Bertos who played in the 2010 World Cup for New Zealand, Farhad Afandiyev, Rogerio Carvalho and Janos Kovacs.

The likes of James Meredith, Andre Boucaud, Marvin McCoy and Anthony Straker have also represented foreign international teams, the latter 3 during their time with City.

As well as a number of triallists who never made the grade (Michael Evans, Damien Farrell, Roar Fredriksen, Gayson Gregory, Roy Kenneth Larsson, Nicolas Mazzina, Jonathan Topkle and Marcelo Veron included).

For City career details of all players mention here visit City squad


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