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York City's Best Ever XI

Over the years, there has been many attempts to name City's Best Ever XI. We've all got a different opinion of what represents City's best ever, read on ...

Local Hero

Following a poll, an article in the Yorkshire Evening Press dated (31st October 1998), they named Barry Swallow as York City's all time "local hero". The article went onto say it was a part of a nationwide Football League initiative as part of its centenary celebrations, although that had happened 10 years earlier in 1988, so it was actually celebrating 110 years. The article went onto contain several spelling mistakes and named one player who’d never played for City. The article is reproduced below.

Former club captain and current director Barry Swallow was today crowned York City's 'Local Hero'.

Swallow soared to the top of the poll conducted by the club in association with the Yorkshire Evening Press as part of the promotional campaign to mark the Football League's centenary. Before setting off for this afternoon's visit by City to Wigan Athletic the jubilant votes-victor said: "I am flabbergasted, absolutely amazed. I had never given it a lot of thought, but to win is very, very nice. I am flattered by the fans' support. It's incredible."

The one-time central defensive pivot, who made 312 appearances in a seven-year stint with the Minstermen, polled an emphatic 33% of the voting.

He finished an outright winner ahead of striker Keith Walwyn in second place. Centre-backs Barry Jackson and Chris Topping finished in joint third place in the poll, which generated considerable interest from City fans.

Of the current crop of City stars Andy McMillan finished with the most votes to land fourth place.

The newly-crowned City 'local hero' cited the stars of Doncaster Rovers, his first League club, in the 1950s and 1960s as his own playing champions.

Top of the Rovers' legends for Swallow was his father, the late Ernie Swallow, whose exploits are still recalled with pleasure. "I still get a lot of feedback when I go back to Doncaster from fans who remember dad as a player. Unfortunately I was only 19 when he died. I was so disappointed he never saw more of my career, especially my days with City. With my dad playing there I used to watch Rovers a lot. They were a big club then, a power in the Second Division and used to attract crowds of 30,000 regularly. Alec Jeffrey was a great player in those days as was Peter Doherty, who also managed the team. They were my heroes." said Swallow, who before coming to York played for Doncaster, Crewe, Barnsley and Bradford City.

Now he is a hero in his own right and both City and the Football League, who instigated the poll, are now deciding how best to mark his achievement.

How the votes were cast: Barry Swallow: 33%; Keith Walwyn 16%; Chris Topping and Barry Jackson 5.3% each; Andy McMillan 4.8%; Jon McCarthy 3.9%.

The remaining 31.7% of the votes were cast among the following 35 players: Colin Addison, Paul Aimson, Paddy Atkinson, Paul Barnes, Arthur Bottom, Phil Burrows, John Byrne, Cyril Coultate (Who?- Ed), Graeme Crawford, Richard Cresswell, Wayne Hall, Ian Helliwell, Ian Holmes, Chris Jones, Roger Jones, Norman Jukes, Dean Kiely, Andy Leaning, David Longhurst, Barry Lyons, Alf Patrick, Nigel Pepper, Jack Pinder, Brian Pollard, Alan Pouton, Jimmy Seal, Billy Rudd, Paul Stancliffe, Gordon Staniforth, Paul Stephenson, Sid Storey, Gary Swann, Des Thompson, Steve Tutill and Norman Wilkinson

David McGurk

On 26th April 2014, David McGurk speaking to York Press nominated his favourite York City XI (from past and present team-mates).

Michael Ingham, Lanre Oyebanjo, Dan Parslow, Luke Graham, James Meredith, Alex Lawless, Neal Bishop, Scott Kerr, Manny Panther, Martyn Woolford, Clayton Donaldson.

Daniel Parslow - Best Teammates

In May 2019, Dave Flett interviewed Daniel Parslow for York Press and asked him to name the best players he played with at City.

In 4-4-1-1 formation Parslow named Ingham; Gibson, McGurk, O’Connell, Meredith; Blair, Lawless, Bishop (N), Chambers: Woolford, Donaldson.

The following is taken from Dave Flett's article in the Yorkpress on May 17th 2019.

Dan Parslow named his Best XI from the York City teammates he played alongside during 11-and-a-half years' service for City. 3 time Clubman of the Year Parslow has opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation and here's his chosen line-up:

Goalkeeper - Michael Ingham "I played with him for years, he was solid and reliable." Like Parslow, the Northern Ireland international racked up more than 300 appearances for City during eight seasons of service from 2008 and 2016. He was between the sticks for the Minstermen’s Wembley twice heroics of 2012. Since leaving Bootham Crescent, he has spent the last three campaigns at Tadcaster Albion and he turns 39 this summer (2019). Nick Pope wasn't here long enough to be considered although from day one he was class.

Right-back - Ben Gibson Arrived on loan at Bootham Crescent from Middlesbrough in February 2012 just a month after turning 19. Subsequently displayed his Premier League class by becoming an impressive performer at centre half and left back as the Minstermen finished the campaign with their two national stadium triumphs. After leaving City, the 6ft 1in defender won ten England under-21 international caps and helped Middlesbrough gain promotion to the Premier League before earning a £15 million move to Burnley in August 2018.

Centre-back - David McGurk Another member of City’s modern-era 300 club, having served the club over a ten-year period. Renowned for the Minstermen’s very own “Bobby Moore moment” when he executed a remarkable goal-saving tackle on Luton striker Tom Craddock in the 2010 play-off semi-finals, earning this reporter’s only ever 10/10 rating in the process. Injury problems troubled him during latter years but was still instrumental in keeping the club in the Football League under Nigel Worthington in 2013. Now forging a career in coaching and finished the 2018/9 season at Hyde as assistant manager to his former City colleague Darren Kelly.

Centre-back - Jack O’Connell Signed by Gary Mills in January 2013 on loan from Blackburn, the then 18-year-old defender possessed a maturity beyond his years amid the pressurised environment of saving the club’s Football League status. Nigel Worthington trusted him at centre half and left back. Now 25, he made 40 appearances as Sheffield United clinched promotion to the Premier League in April 2019.

Left-back - James Meredith Inspired signing by Martin Foyle, who recruited the 21-year-old left back from Shrewsbury in 2009 after he had ended the previous campaign on loan at National League North outfit Telford. Another vital cog in the Wembley-twice squad, with Gary Mills converting him into a midfielder for the play-off final win against Luton. Subsequently moved on to Bradford City and has spent the last two campaigns (2017-9) playing for Millwall in the Championship, while making Australia's squad for last summer's World Cup.

Right-wing - Matty Blair Made a phenomenal contribution to City’s 2012 success, hitting the target in the FA Trophy and play-off final victories at Wembley, as well as grabbing the winning goals in each of those competition’s semi-finals. Moved on to Fleetwood after one season with the Minstermen in the Football League and went on to score the only goal of a two-legged, League Two play-off semi-final against his old club in 2014. Proved he is still the man for the big occasion when he netted for Doncaster against Charlton in the 2019 League One play-offs on Sunday before his club went out on penalties.

Central-midfield - Alex Lawless A cultured midfielder who provided the quality in Martin Foyle’s functional 2010 Conference play-off final team. Departed for Luton Town in 2011 and helped the Hatters win promotion to the Football League three seasons later. Repeated that achievement with Leyton Orient in 2019 at the age of 34.

Central-midfield - Neal Bishop Great addition by Billy McEwan from Scarborough, who became the midfield heartbeat of the Scotsman’s exciting young team that reached the Conference play-offs in 2007. Was a big loss when he subsequently moved to Barnet that summer. A mainstay in the Championship for a season at Blackpool and, at 37, featured in the League Two play-offs for Mansfield in 2019. The central pair were "so comfortable on the ball and could pop up with a goal".

Left-wing - Ashley Chambers Still Leicester’s youngest-ever first-team player at the age of 15, Chambers helped tee up both goals in City’s 2012 FA Trophy final Wembley win against Newport, before returning the following weekend to smash in an emphatic equaliser during the 2-1 play-off final triumph over Luton. Hit double figures as the club’s top scorer in League Two the following season before moving to Cambridge. Now 29, has tormented his old club for Nuneaton and current club Kidderminster in National League North.

Number-10 - Martyn Woolford Another astute piece of business by Billy McEwan, the Frickley Athletic winger was brought to North Yorkshire six weeks before his 21st birthday in 2006. Made the transition to full-time professional look effortless and excited City fans before 17 goals during a difficult campaign for the club in 2007/08 earned him a six-figured move to League One Scunthorpe. The following summer, he went on to score the winning goal against play-off opponents Millwall at Wembley to send the Iron into the Championship. In May 2019, he was released by League Two Grimsby at the age of 33.

Striker - Clayton Donaldson After being farmed out to the likes of Harrogate Town, Scarborough and Halifax, the speedy striker blossomed under Billy McEwan after joining City as a raw 21-year-old hopeful following his release from Hull in 2005. Plundered 44 goals in 93 matches during the next two campaigns before moving on to Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League. Subsequently won ten Jamaica caps and established himself as a trusted Championship marksman with Birmingham and Sheffield United, but only managed two goals in 34 appearances for troubled Bolton during the 2018/9 season at the age of 35.

Manager Gary Mills. "I enjoyed playing my football the most under Gary Mills, he got the best out of me".

Honourable Mentions Richard Cresswell, Scott Kerr and Ben Davies.

Dave Flett - Best XI

In November 2019, on York Hospital Ball, Dave Flett nominated the best team of players he’d seen represent City during his 10 years covering City for the York Press.

In 3-4-1 2 format, he named Pope; Parslow (“amazing shift at back and equally brilliant playing in midfield in front of back 4”), McGurk, Lowe; Blair (“(I need to) shoe horn him in at right wing back, phenomenal in those front 3 positions where he had a bit of licence to roam". He also named Blair as the nicest player he knew at City, Blair bought cakes into YEP office on his departure), Boucaud ("skills and mastery of a football were Premier League class, didn’t do it further up the pitch, would keep the ball well"), Bishop (N), Meredith; Woolford; Donaldson ("so fast and so skilful, a real handful for defences"), Brodie ("strength and pace, he had everything, he should have gone on to play at Championship level").

Chris Topping

In April 2020, Chris named his team of the best players he played with at York City. 1 Graeme Crawford, 2 John Stone, 3 Phil Burrows, 4 Ian Holmes, 5 Barry Swallow, 6 Chris Topping, 7 Barry Lyons, 8 John Woodward, 9 Paul Aimson, 10 Phil Boyer, 11 Brian Pollard. Subs Mike Walker, John Mackin, Dick Hewitt and Ted McDougall.

Russ Penn

When speaking to the “Shooting Towards The Shippo” podcast in May 2020, when put on the spot to name his best team of players he’d played with, Russ Penn included Nick Pope, Lanre Oyebanjo, Keith Lowe (“I’ve played with him at 4 clubs”), Ben Davies, Marlon Pack (Cheltenham), Wes Fletcher (“in his prime unplayable but not fit enough”), Shaun Harrad (Burton), Jack Maghoma (Cheltenham), and Michael Coulson (“definitely a maverick in terms of his personality”).

He also named Nigel Worthington as the best manager he’d worked under “although some might differ”.

David McGurk

When speaking on the Hospital Ball in November 2020, he named his best City team of players he’d played with in an adventurous 4-2-4 formation. Ingham (“you could count the mistakes he made on one hand in over 300 appearances”), Purkiss ("just pips Lanre"), Pars, Luke Graham (”can’t split them, both 7 / 8 every week”), Meredith; Neal Bishop (”grabbed hold of games, too good for some of our players, had it physically and mentally”), Kerr (“drove us on in games”); Donaldson (“on the right, where he played in his first season”), Walker (“untouchable for a period of time before injury”), Andy Bishop (“natural finisher”), Woolford;

YCFC Team Of The Decade - 2010-9

Selected by a poll on the YCFC web site in January 2020.

YCFC: Best Bootham Crescent - 1932 - 2020

In December 2020, the YCFC web site asked City fans voted for their overall ‘best ever’ City players to have played on the hallowed turf of Bootham Crescent from a 79 man short list. In a 4-4-2 formation and with substitutes, the following players will be known as the Bootham Crescent 'Best XI'.

Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely (1990-1996)

Irish international goalkeeper Dean Kiely kept an impressive 70 clean sheets for the Minstermen in 210 league appearances. After joining from Coventry in 1990 Kiely played in some notable games for City, including the famous 3-0 victory over Manchester United in the League Cup at Old Trafford in 1995, and also saved a penalty in the shootout against Crewe in the 1993 Third Division play-off final victory at Wembley. He left York for Bury in 1996 and went on to play in the Premier League for Charlton, Portsmouth and West Brom. Nowadays, Kiely is the goalkeeping coach at Crystal Palace.

Appearances: 239 Clean Sheets: 82

Right Back - Andy McMillan (1987–1999)

South African full-back McMillan is second in all-time appearances for York, playing for City 492 times over 11 years. He played in some of the most famous games in York’s history, including the 1993 Third Division play-off final victory at Wembley and also the League Cup giant-killings of Manchester United and Everton. McMillan went on to play for Ayr United before retiring and going into coaching, including at one time a role in York’s youth academy. He now works in the decontamination business, and classes tackling the coronavirus pandemic as easier than trying to tackle Ryan Giggs.

Appearances: 492 Goals: 5

Centre-back - John MacPhail (1983–1986)

Centre-half MacPhail played for York 173 times after joining from Sheffield United in 1983. His time at City included the 1983/84 season where his side won the Fourth Division with a record-setting 101 points, and also the FA Cup run the following year, in which York beat Arsenal and took then-European Cup holders Liverpool to a replay. MacPhail scored an impressive 29 goals for City, and was once fined soon after signing from Sheffield United for using an under 24 railcard on his way from Sheffield to York. MacPhail was 28 at the time. Looks like someone might have been reading Naughty Boys on the YCS web site. He finished his career in 1994 as player / manager with Hartlepool United.

Appearances: 173 Goals: 29

Centre-back - David McGurk (2004-2014)

McGurk played in York City’s defence across three loan spells before joining permanently from Darlington in 2006. He went on to make over 300 appearances for the club, with perhaps his best moment coming in the second leg of the 2010 Conference play-off semi-final at Luton, where he made a brilliant goal-saving tackle on the Luton striker to help his team reach the play-off final. McGurk played in a number of Wembley finals with York, and is currently the manager of Hyde United in the Northern Premier League.

Appearances: 332 Goals: 6

Left-back - Wayne Hall (1989–2001)

Left-back Wayne Hall played 438 times for City from 1989-2001. His time at the club included a hugely successful period in which York played in the Second Division. ‘Ginner’ helped them get to these heights, scoring the winning penalty in the shootout against Crewe in the 1993 Third Division play-off final. He also played in the cup shocks against Manchester United and Everton, and even nutmegged Ryan Giggs in the former of those games. A huge fan favourite, Hall now works as a prison officer.

Appearances: 438 Goals: 11

Winger - Jon McCarthy (1990–1995, 2002)

Northern Ireland international right-winger McCarthy joined York in 1990 and was part of the team that won promotion through the Third Division play-offs in the 1992/93 season. He won City’s Clubman of the Year twice before signing for Port Vale in 1995 for £450,000, which was at that time York’s record transfer fee the club had received. He went on to play for clubs such as Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday and since retiring McCarthy has stayed involved with football, managing Chester for 62 games and also working in the media as a commentator. He is currently assistant-manager at Southport.

Appearances: 234 Goals: 38

Centre-midfield - Nigel Pepper (1990–1997)

Another member of that 1993 Third Division play-off final victory, Pepper was a central midfielder who played 281 times for York, scoring 45 goals. His performance that day at Wembley against Crewe, including a successful penalty in the shootout, is made even more impressive by the fact it was found soon after that he was diabetic. He was also part of the famous cup games against Manchester United and Everton, and scored in his last game for the club. He went on to play for Bradford and Aberdeen among others, eventually retiring from football in 2008.

Appearances: 281 Goals: 45

Centre-midfield - Neal Bishop (2006–2007)

Midfielder Neal Bishop only played for the Minstermen 63 times but made a huge impression with the York fans, including winning the Clubman of the Year award in 2007. He joined from Scarborough in 2006, and most memorably scored a brilliant volley from outside the box on the last day of the 2006/07 season to secure a play-off place for the Minstermen. After leaving York in 2007, Bishop went on to have a successful Football League career with teams such as Notts County, Blackpool and Scunthorpe. Now 39 years-old, Bishop currently plays for Scarborough Athletic.

Appearances: 63 Goals: 4

Winger – Matty Blair (2011-13)

Blair’s career saw him play football at the ninth, eight, sixth, and fifth tiers (for Stratford, Bedworth, Redditch and Telford, and Kidderminster respectively) before joining York in 2011. That season saw City finally make it out of the Conference, with Blair playing a starring role, chalking up 52 appearances and scoring 20 goals, including one in the Play-off Final. After another year at Bootham Crescent, Blair switched to fellow League Two side Fleetwood and earned yet another promotion. He’s now plying his trade at Cheltenham, following a few years at Doncaster; at 31, he’s showing no signs of giving up football any time soon.

Appearances: 101 Goals: 27

Striker – Paul Barnes (1992-95)

Paul Barnes cemented his place in the York history books with a brace against Manchester United in that famous 1995 FA Cup victory, and next summer he was poached by Birmingham City for a then-record fee of £350,000. In goals-per-appearances, Barnes must be up there as one of Bootham Crescent’s very best; in 179 games over four seasons, he netted a stunning 85 goals and spells at Burnley and Doncaster also saw him score at a ridiculous rate. Despite never playing for England himself, Barnes has made his own contribution to the England national team, with son Harvey who currently plays for Leicester City in the Premier League and made his first appearance for the Three Lions last October.

Appearances: 179 Goals: 85

Striker – Keith Walwyn (1981-87)

Another brilliant goalscorer, Keith Walwyn, also notable for being one of the first black players to turn out for City. In less than 300 games, Kittitian Keith netted 140 goals, making him twice Clubman of the Year (one of only eight players to do so); his scoring record at York is bettered only by Norman Wilkinson. Despite a less prolific later career at Blackpool and Carlisle, Walwyn remains a York icon. After his footballing career ended, Walwyn opened a sports store in the Preston area. Walwyn passed away in 2003 aged just 47, but was immortalised with a duly named ‘Keith Walwyn Lounge’ at Bootham Crescent. It was officially opened by his widow, Liz, in August 2006. The legendary striker will also feature on a mural in the fanzone at the LNER Community Stadium.

Appearances: 291 Goals: 140

Substitutes

Goalkeeper – Nick Pope (2013, 2014)

In five years at Charlton, Pope amassed nine loan spells, two at York, before stepping up to the first team in 2015. Fan favourite at Bootham Crescent, he was a part of the club’s winning run under Nigel Worthington in the 2013/14 season when the Minstermen sneaked into the playoffs after finishing 2013 in a relegation fight and then losing only two games up until the end of the season. He was snapped up by Burnley in the summer of 2016 and has since made nearly a hundred appearances for the Premier League club, alongside four England caps.

Appearances: 24 Clean Sheets: 16

Left-back – James Meredith (2009-12)

Australian Meredith first played for Derby County, after being spotted by a scout in Melbourne. He also had a stint in the Republic of Ireland, at Sligo Rovers, and then a successful loan at AFC Telford led him to sign for York, where he visited Wembley three times, winning an FA Trophy and earning promotion to League Two. Since then, Meredith has gone from strength to strength, and is now playing Down Under for top-flight Macarthur FC, following successful spells at Bradford and Millwall.

Appearances: 162 Goals: 3

Centre-back – Paul Stancliffe (1991-94)

Yorkshire-born Stancliffe spent all but one year of his career in God’s Own County, racking up three hundred appearances for each of Rotherham and Sheffield United. Bootham Crescent was a fitting home for the last years of his career, and captain Stancliffe guided City to promotion in 1993 during a three-year stint, beating Crewe Alexandra at Wembley. He spent around 15 years behind the scenes at Doncaster, including managing their under-18s before returning to Sheffiled United.

Appearances: 103 Goals: 3

Centre Midfield – Scott Kerr (2011-13)

Kerr spent only two full seasons at York, but still made a not insignificant impact on the club. Another from the 2011-12 team that returned City to the Football League, Kerr was nearly thirty when he arrived at Bootham Crescent, having already had lengthy spells at Scarborough and Lincoln. His experience was a great asset to the side, and, despite a season-ending injury in March 2012, he earned the accolade of Clubman of the Year. Departing York a year later, he saw out his career at a string of northern non-league clubs.

Appearances: 89 Goals: 1

Striker – John Byrne (1979-84)

One of the most talented and skilful players to ever appear for the club. Byrne began his career at York as an apprentice after being recommended to then City Manager Wilf McGuiness by a taxi driver. He helped the team to the Third Division with promotion in 1984. Well known for the outstanding partnership up front with Keith Walwyn. After being named best Fourth Division Player in 1983-84 before he was snapped up by QPR in for £100,000 and later played in France before returning to England and finishing his career with Whitehawk. Byrne also made 23 international appearances for the Republic of Ireland. He now works for the NHS.

Appearances: 199 Goals: 64

Manager

Denis Smith (1982-87)

Originally signed on loan as a player in March 1982, he was apppointed player - manager in May 1982. He lead City to our only Championship, winning Division 4 in 1984 becoming the first ever side to win 100 points in a season. In each of the next 2 seasons, he took City to Round 5 of The FA Cup losing both years at Anfield in a replay and beating Arsenal in 1985.

Player: Appearances: 43 Goals: 5; Manager: 279 (W: 128, D: 64, L: 87)

With around 80 players nominated, how about this side of players who were not even nominated to challenge the Best XI. David Stockdale, Ernie Phillips, Alan Stewart, Barry Swallow, Ernie Howe; Graeme Murty, Gordon Brown, Ron Spence, Jon Greening; Ted MacDougall, Phil Boyer. Sub: Richard Cresswell.

Radio York

At the same time (23rd January 2021), a Radio York show came up with the concensus view of City's best ever side. Crawford; McMillan, MacPhail, Toppping, Burrows; McCarthy, Holmes, Fenton; Bottom, Walwyn, Byrne; Sub: Lyons, Aimson, Jones C, Pepper, Swallow, Jones, Barnes, Wilkinson.

The attack minded 433 formation compensated for the dearth of central midfield candidates.

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