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 ...

1) Best of the Best - A Considered Opinion

INTRODUCTION

So how do you select an “All Time Best Ever City Team”?

Recent versions tend to lean heavily towards recent years. Neal Bishop for best ever central midfielder? He may have been of his time, but surely not a best ever candidate.

I’m not going to consider City players from the last 20 years. It has been a mainly depressing era for City fans of largely non league football. The gloom has been lifted by the likes of Michael Ingham, Clayton Donaldson, Martyn Woolford, Richard Brodie, Daniel Parslow, James Meredith, Ashly Chambers, Matty Blair, Scott Kerr and Sean Newton. All stalwarts of our recent sides, but it was mainly a non league side. Some of these did go onto play some Championship football so had some class. For me (and people who know much more than me), Andre Boucaud might have been the best of the bunch.

Equally, a young Ben Godfrey made played a handful of games for City before moving on. Whilst he didn’t do enough with City to warrant inclusion in a Best City XI, he might turn out to be the wealthiest ever ex City player and the one who netted City our biggest ever transfer fee.

Here, we attempt to come up with a definitive team.

Before we start, a few ground rules, which I’m sure I’ll happily ignore when it suits:

It is what a player did for City and the impact they had on City (that excludes Jon Greening, a Champions League winner)
  • What players did earlier in their career (sorry Peter Lorimer and Neville Southall) is excluded
  • Non league players are excluded given they were playing at a much lower level in the pyramid than many earlier players (hard luck 2012, but maybe only James Meredith could argue they rose to substantial heights). That also excludes Joe Hulme who played for City in1924 and scored 4 goals in 9 England appearances and won multiple league and cup winners medals with Arsenal.
  • By a process of elimination, the selection essentially boils down to players from 4 eras, the 1955 Happy Wanderers, Tom Johnston’s 2 1970s promotion winning sides, Denis Smith’s 1984 101 point Division 4 championship side and the 1990s Alan Little team
  • Given 1955, our 1938 heroes are excluded. The stars of the 1938 side were Jack Pinder, a local full back and forward Reg Baines (although some might argue that Baines’s strike rate means he is worthy of inclusion). Equally, Alf Patrick, the only player to score 5 goals in a Football League game for City is also excluded.

    I’ve gone for a 442 formation, 2 attacking wide men and 2 more creative / destructive central players. To fit in City’s attacking might there is credence in the suggestion of 433 but with City’s talent pool that could end up with 3 top class strikers, 2 wide men and one in central midfield who in all likelihood would be overrun.

    The 442 argument is that it covers up the paucity of candidates for central midfield by deploying 2 wingers to allow 4 attack minded players to be selected.

    KEEPERS

    In goal, Tommy Forgan played for City for 12 seasons, 2 cup runs, 2 promotions, 2 relegations and a re-election included. He is the club record holder for the number of clean sheets by a City keeper.

    Graeme Crawford is another worthy candidate. Signed in 1971, his fine form was instrumental in, some would say, single handedly, saving City from relegation in each of his first 2 seasons. The next season saw him and his defence equal a long standing Football League record of 11 consecutive league clean sheets and helped to propel City to promotion to the old Division 2 for the only time in our history in 1974. He had been an ever present during City’s 2 Division 2 seasons.

    Given City’s dodgy defence, it is hardly surprising that Crawford lost his confidence as City suffered successive relegation campaigns under Wilf McGuinness and was dropped for 2 spells during the 1976/7 season.

    He left City in 1977 and returned 1980 for a final swansong, but his latter City years must count against him.

    Roger Jones oozed class but unfortunately given the defence in front of him and his age, City fans never had the opportunity to see him at his best. That said, he pipped Crawford to the keeper’s spot in the 1973/4 PFA Division 3 side of the year.

    As Malcolm Huntington noted, “I thought Roger Jones was a great goalkeeper. He had played for Blackburn in the old first division and, even though he was at the end of his career and playing with a bad leg, he was everything you wanted from a goalkeeper and commanded the penalty area brilliantly.

    However, pride of place must go to Dean Kiely. He was signed in 1990 and had to wait before he established himself in goal. He was City’s undisputed number one by the start of the 1992/3 season as City won promotion in our first Wembley visit. He missed only 8 games in the next 4 seasons as City went for another promotion and enjoyed cup success over Manchester United and Everton.

    In 1993/4, Kiely’s team equalled the existing club record of 20 clean sheets in a league season and were just one short of equalling the record again a season later. The record had been set in 1984 when Roger Jones was in goal and was to remain until 2013/4 when Nick Pope and Michael Ingham and Alan McCarey set the current club record of 22 clean sheets in a season. In terms of keepers, alone Kiely’s 20 clean sheets in 1993/4 tops Roger Jones 19 in 1983/4. With all cup and play off games included, Dean Kiely kept 25 clean sheets during the 1993/4 season.

    Tommy Forgan can’t be discounted either, his club record of 120 clean sheets will never be beaten, but like others, his City CV includes 2 relegation seasons.

    DEAN KIELY performed consistently to a high standard during his City career and went onto have a top flight career, which earns him the keeper’s gloves.

    There must also be an honourable mention for Nick Pope, making his Football League debut whilst on loan with City in 2013, his class was immediately evident and his clean sheets helped City climb from 23rd place to the play offs.

    FULL BACKS / DEFENCE

    I’ve gone for full backs of a “modern era”. Whilst both our 1955 Happy Wanderers full backs Ernie Phillips and George Howe were stalwarts of our side. Phillips had a fairly illustrious career before ending his professional career with 4 seasons at Bootham Crescent. Equally, George Howe, a few months younger than Phillips spent his last 8 seasons with City. Whilst not discrediting his performance in keeping Stanley Matthews, still a top class player, quiet in our 1955 cup tie at Blackpool, it should be noted that Matthews was just a few weeks short of his 40th birthday at time. Of the 2, I might just rank Phillips higher than Howe, someone who had a fine all round game for his era. Undoubtedly fine full backs, in their era defenders defended and rarely, if ever, crossed the half way line. Even in the late 1960s, my primary school sports master wouldn’t let his full backs cross the half way line, even for corners.

    It is interesting to note the goal scoring records of our full backs, commonly perceived as being on the short side and so therefore not a real threat at set pieces. Our 2 1955 Happy Wanderers scored just 2 goals in 521 games for City. In the 1970s era, Phil Burrows netted 15 goals from 390 games, whilst his right back colleagues John Mackin and later John Stone (a prolific centre forward as a youth player) netted 13 times in 282 games. Moving into the 1990s, Wayne Hall and Andy McMillan netted 16 times from 930 games for City. Of those, only Hall was noted as a free kick expert or penalty taker.

    From Phil Burrows onwards, all the full back candidates could add attacking flair to their game. Burrows truly embodied a professional footballer, a good all round game, never gave less than 100% and a fans’ favourite.

    His right back partners, Mackin and Stone, whilst decent players were functional rather than outstanding. After them, Peter Scott filled the right back berth. Although the player who has won the most full international caps whilst with City, he failed to adequately fill the boots of Mackin and Stone.

    Denis Smith’s leading full backs, Chris Evans and Alan Hay were steady, but in a good team, perhaps, the last names on the team sheet.

    The demise of Smith’s side saw 2 young full backs cement their place in City’s side and City folklore. Andy McMillan and Wayne Hall and were to star for City for many seasons Andy McMillan made his debut in late 1987 as Booby Saxton struggled to assemble a competitive side. Immediately, Andy McMillan stood out as a worthy addition to City’s side. He allied sound defending with a willingness to overlap down the right wing, later forming a potent partnership with Jon McCarthy. Although he spent the majority of his career with City, he was regularly watched (and had trials) with several top clubs.

    Wayne Hall, signed from non league football, made his debut in August in 1989. Like McMillan, he could both defend and attack and for many years was to link up and down the left wing with Tony Canham.

    Both full backs were to serve City for 12 years, Hall making 438 appearances and McMillan 492, second only Barry Jackson in City’s all time list.

    When in full flow, they provided the most wing excitement seen at Bootham Crescent since the glory days of the Happy Wanderers.

    Sadly, their demise has heralded a lean period in City’s history, one is which possibly only James Meredith could be named as a City (left) full back of quality. Even then, he failed when on trial with City under Billy McEwan in 2007 and was a free transfer signing by Martin Foyle over 2 years later. In his 3 years with City, he was an able incumbent of a problem. His time with City ended in the 2012 with our Wembley Double Week. Out of contract, he moved to Bradford City and later Millwall whilst gaining full Australian caps.

    I suspect of all the positions in the team, those lucky enough to have seen all the main candidates play would strongly agree on only one position. For me that’s enough for PHIL BURROWS to earn his place in the side. At right back, I’d slot in ANDY McMILLAN, a popular and long serving stalwart of all the successful 1990s City sides.

    DEFENCE – CENTRAL

    Centre half throw up some solid partnership. Barry Swallow / Chris Topping in the1970s and John McPhail / Ricky Sbragia in the 1980s stand out. Both had a team leader and a solid doer alongside him. The 1990s pairing wasn’t as significant, featuring Paul Stancliffe, Ray Warburton, Tony Barras, Steve Tutill and Paul Atkin. All solid players, but not really Best XI contenders. Stancliffe, at the end of his career, still had class, as did Warburton who was injury prone. Then fact that 5 can be named suggests that there was no one outstanding pairing.

    Going back in time, Barry Jackson played across 3 decades in setting a club record of 539 appearances, but during his time, City were twice relegated (each time after just one season in Division 3) and applied for re-election on 5 occasions. A home grown player and dominant centre half, he was a popular figure. In1970, during City’s epic 3 game FA Cup tie against Cardiff, he comfortably got the better of a young John Toshack, Liverpool’s 1970s big target man striker. Again, given City’s record at the time, he falls just short of a Best XI.

    Further back, in 1955, when teams fielded just one centre half between the 2 full backs, Alan Stewart was that man. Whilst being a commanding centre half, I’d suggest other defenders in the Happy Wanderers team might have been more highly regarded.

    On reflection and given the City had fine centre back partnerships in the 70s and 80s, I’m going to keep one partnership intact. CHRIS TOPPING and BARRY SWALLOW. Purely for on the pitch performance, they were untouchable for nearly 6 seasons and enjoyed 2 promotions and took City to Division 2 for the only time. 2 promotions and their longevity tip the balance in their favour. Off field antics are inexcusable but shouldn’t cloud on field performance. Whilst MacPhail (29) and Derek Hood (36) scored more goals in their City careers than Swallow (27), take away their penalties and Swallow is City’s all time top scoring defender.

    CENTRAL MIDFIELD

    Having a long held belief that John Woodward slots into central midfield in our Worst Ever XI, I could even consider promoting him to the best ever side. In 7 seasons, he could was a regular for only 3 seasons, perhaps his versatility counted against him as he played in various positions in midfield and defence. Before the advent of forensic analysis, he was the quiet, holding midfield player who to the untrained eye did nothing, whilst the flair of Ian Holmes alongside him provided the excitement. Like Woodward, Holmes took time to establish himself in City’s side, cementing a place in central midfield in November of the 1973/4 promotion season. He played every game of the following season, but wasn’t to reach the same heights again as City suffered back to back relegations. He was one of City’s most reliable ever penalty takers.

    The Nigel Pepper / Gary Swann partnership shone briefly. The antics of Nigel Pepper are well documented, he was a fearsome presence in midfield. His tackling often saw hm end up in the referee’s notebook. Beside him, Swann wasn’t so noticeable, but quietly went about his business. Between them the dominated central midfield in a way that we have rarely seen at Bootham Crescent. Quietly and with some aggression, holding midfield, they’d break up opposing attacks and ping balls to Jon McCarthy and Tony Canham. Pepper was a regular in midfield for 7 seasons as City won on their first trip to Wembley and beat Manchester United and Everton in the Leaue Cup. His City side

    Like Swann, Ian Holmes shone briefly. Signed in the summer of 1973, he didn’t establish himself in midfield until that November but proved to be a revelation, his surging runs through central midfield thrilled the crowd when the wide players were usually Barry Lyons and Ian Butler, fine players in their own right, but both were nearing the ends of long and successful careers and in their time with City noted for their craft and guile rather than long and mazy runs. An assured penalty taker he was another who adapted well to Division 2 before losing his way under Wilf McGuinness.

    Eamon Dumphy and Billy Rudd will be in the thinking of supporters who saw them in the 1960s, but you need to go back to the 1955 Happy Wanderers where the real challengers for a central midfield berth are to be found. Gordon Brown, originally an inside forward dropped back into midfield where he was partnered by Ron Spence, a City legend.

    Spence was one of the stars of our 1954/5 FA Cup run and despite 18 months out with a knee injury, he returned to play the final 3 games of our 1958 FA Cup run. However, he wasn't the same player as before and was never again a City regular, failing to play at all in his final season. In total, he made 306 appearances and scored 26 goals for City, his only Football League club. To the older City supporters, Spence was a hard working, combative and tireless attacking left wing half (central midfield) known for his surging runs as we reached the 1955 FA Cup semi final. With Gordon Brown at right wing half, Spence tended to be deployed in a slightly more defensive role. After a long playing career, Spence joined City’s back room staff in 1963 and served in various roles, including physio, trainer, coach and youth team manager until 1975. Maybe not the first name to spring to mind from our 1955 side, but David Batters once described him as a “key man” of that side.

    An honourable mention for Scott Kerr, Malcolm Huntington cited him for inclusion in a City Ever Best XI stating, “Kerr’s the only one of the present team in my best ever York City XI, he’s a fantastic midfield general with real leadership qualities.”

    Spence was more defensively minded than Gordon Brown and that just edges RON SPENCE into the side as a defensive midfield enforcer alongside the more attack minded IAN HOLMES.

    WINGERS / WIDE MIDFIELD

    Over the years City have been spoiled for flying wingers.

    Billy Hughes and Billy Fenton from our 1955 side stand out. A couple of personal favourites are Archie Taylor (possibly the fastest winger I’ve seen play for City) and Tommy Hendeson (short lived but a tricky winger with a powerful shot). Brian Pollard deserves a mention, playing in 2 City promotion sides 10 years apart. In Denis Smith’s 1984 Division 4 Championship winning side, the veteran Pollard was joined by young gun Gary Ford in the wide roles. Both were stalwarts and loyal servants for a number of years.

    Tony Canham was to replace Pollard and later alongside Jon McCarthy, they thrilled City fans for several seasons as City made solid progress up the Football League. From that Alan Little era, other wide men, Graeme Murty, Paul Stephenson and Jon Greening merit a mention, but none did enough to make the Final XI.

    Latterly, Martyn Woolford deserves a mention, starting his professional career with non league City before spending a number of seasons at Championship level.

    On reflection, BILLY FENTON deserves a place in the side. In 7 seasons with City, he scored a club record 31 in his first season and set a club record 118 goals in his City career. Those included goals against Spurs and Blackpool in the1955 cup run so he could do it at against quality opposition. With pace to burn and an eye for goal he was always a handful. Fast forward 40 years and those same attributes make JON McCARTHY who was always a joy to watch. Some suggest he could have scorer a hat trick for City at Wembley in 1993. He went onto play at a higher level and gained 18 full caps for Northern Ireland. Who knows how far he might have gone if he’d not broken a leg on 3 occasions after leaving City.

    STRIKERS

    For strikers, City have an abundance of talent. Strong argument could be made for 3 or 4 partnerships. Bottom / Wilkinson, MacDougall / Boyer, Seal/ Jones and Walwyn/ Byrne. Add in Joe Hulme, Alf Patrick, Paul Aimson and Paul Barnes and Richard Cresswell and you are spoilt for choice.

    Norman Wilkinson and Arthur Bottom starred in 1955. Paul Aimson would be a popular choice for the most accomplished striker, a role that John Byrne filled a generation later. Byrne / Keith Walwyn were a potent strike force and Paul Barnes in the1990s had a real eye for goal.

    That’s even before we consider the Ted MacDougall / Phil Boyer partnership that briefly flourished in our late 60s re-election years. Perhaps, Boyer got the best out of MacDougall who was an out and out goal machine. Both went onto play top flight football for a number of years as well as respectively gaining full England and Scotland caps.

    Some might suggest Paul Barnes, another prolific scorer who went on to have a successful career at a higher level, but in the scheme of things eclipsed by others.

    A nod also to Joe Hulme, signed from non league football in 1922. He didn’t have a particularly impressive City career but moved to Blackburn in 1924 and onto Arsenal where he won 9 England caps scoring 4 goal s and winning a bagful of domestic honours as Arsenal were the dominant force in English football.

    Going 442, we need 2 strikers, my starting point would be Norman Wilkinson and Keith Walwyn, our 2 leading all time scorers.

    In 12 seasons, Wilkinson scored 143 goals in 401 games, fractionally more than one every 3 games, scoring 23 in his first season, our FA Cup semi final season. A number he never came close to beating again. Over the next 10 seasons, he averaged 12 goals a season, his best being18 in the 1956/7 season and played in City’s first 2promotion campaigns. Noted as a fine header (one friend got dragged along to a reserve team game in 1966 just so his Dad could say his son had seen Wilkinson play). Exceptional in the air, but maybe not possessing electric pace, Malcolm Huntington believed his powerful movement and anticipation were unmatched, “He was the best player off the ball that I have seen in all my years of reporting on York City, all his team-mates used to say that when they had the ball, Norman was always in a position to receive it. He was an option at all times. In hindsight, he would probably have been a better choice for Player of the Millennium than Barry Swallow.”

    That said, given his scoring rate (and 2 relegation seasons), Wilkinson is overlooked in favour of his team-mate ARTHUR BOTTOM. During the City career, Bottom scored almost twice as fast as Wilkinson, scoring nearly 2 goals in every 3 matches. In his first season with City, Bottom scored 31 league goals (equalling Billy Fenton’s club record) which he matched a season later. In less than 4 seasons with City, he scored 105 goals in 158 games. A move to Newcastle followed in February 1958, his 7 goals in 8 games helped to maintain Newcastle’s top flight status and despite 3 in 3 at the start of the next season he was allowed to join Division 3 North Chesterfield in October 1958 after the arrival of Welsh international Ivor Allchurch. He failed to impress at Saltergate and left League football in 1960 at the relatively young age of 30. If he’d not left City, he could easily have ended up as City’s all time top scorer.

    Alongside Arthur Bottom is KEITH WALWYN, another prolific scorer. In 6 seasons with City, he scored 24 or more goals in 5 seasons and suffered an achilles injury in the other which saw him miss nearly half the season. Powerful in the air and on the ball, he was a handful for any defence. There was a popular theory at the time that he didn’t have the close control to be successful at a higher level, but one that could be argued against considering his performances against Liverpool and Arsenal across 5 games when he was a consistent threat to some of the best defenders in the country, if not Europe. Whilst enjoying every minute of his 6 years, I would have liked to have seen him prove he could do it at a higher level. Anyone who has seen City’s 6 Football League promotion campaigns (dating back to 1959) would probably put Walwyn above Seal, Jones and Barnes whilst his strike partner John Byrne, who later enjoyed a successful top flight career, didn’t do enough for City to make the team.

    Note, the striker selection goes against David Batters' judgement where he named Paul Aimson as City's best ever striker. My justification being that Bottom had a far superior strike rate than any other City post WW2 striker and Walwyn scored more goals (and at a better strike rate) than Aimson.

    So anyone care to name City side to beat this team? Kiely; McMillan, Swallow, Topping, Burrows; McCarthy, Holmes, Spence, Fenton; Bottom, Walwyn;

    READ MORE: For more details of many of the players, managers and seasons referenced above, see City History

    2) 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, George Howe; Graeme Murty, Gordon Brown, Ron Spence, Jon Greening; Ted MacDougall, Phil Boyer. Sub: Richard Cresswell.

    3) Radio York

    A few days later (23rd January 2021 to be precise), 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.

    4) Yorkmix

    Yorkmix name their best ever City team.

    5) YCFC Team Of The Decade - 2010-9

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

    6) 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.

    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;

    7) 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.

    8) 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”.

    9) 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.

    10) Gary Ford - Best Teammates

    In March 2021 on York Hospital Ball, Gary Ford named his Best City Teammates XI using a 442 formation.

    • Roger Jones, “one of the calmest, most mature players I ever came across, made you relax as a team”
    • Steve Senior, “such stamina, mix well (on pitch, we covered each other)”
    • Ricky Sbragia, “fantastic football mind, could read a game more than anyone else”
    • John MacPhail, “very quick, very strong, a hard man”
    • Alan Hay, “greatt foot, couldn’t tackle”
    • Brian Pollard, “he just went (dribbled directly) at players like they weren’t there”
    • Sean Haslegrave, “very experienced, he worked his socks off, a bit like a Billy Bremner / Johnny Giles, he never stopped running”
    • Simon Mills, “quality passer of the ball, he would work well with Haslegrave”
    • Ian McDonald, “very consistent, (I) looked up to him when I first got into the team”
    • Keith Walwyn, “so brave, very consistent”
    • John Byrne, “I first saw him at 16,when even the old professionals couldn’t get the ball off him, the ball just stuck to his feet”.

    11) 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").

    12) Best Irish XI

    Brendan at the York Irish society nominated his best City side featuring Irish talent. Check out local York media for next details of their activties.

    • Goalkeeper: Dean Kiely / Michael Ingham (Couldn't separate them as both club legends!)
    • Defenders: Lanre Oyebanjo, Darren Kelly, Peter Scott, Eddie Nolan
    • Midfielders: Eamon Dunphy, Jon McCarthy, Paddy McLaughlin
    • Forwards: Noel Peyton, Barry Conlon, John Byrne
    • Subs: Alan Fettis, Eric McMordie, Josh Carson, Gary Howlett, Liam George:

    13) Non League XI

    Whilst discounting non league players from City’s Best Ever XI, it is interesting to select a Best Ever City Non League XI. Players who have played non league football for City. The only players I’m going to exclude are loan signings.

    The first thing to strike me was that the positions where the All Time Best Ever XI was weak, left back and central midfield, the non league side is laden with talent in those positions.

    For left back, you could pick from James Meredith, Sean Newton, David Ferguson, Dave Merris, Femi Ilesanmi, Jamal Fyfield and David Ferguson.

    At right back, Lanre Oyebanjo (despite a disappointing second spell) just edges out Ben Purkiss.

    In central midfield take your pick from Scott Kerr, Alex Lawless, Andre Boucaud, Adriano Moke, Neal Bishop and Russell Penn (second time around). Malcolm Huntington would include Scott Kerr in his best ever City side, in 2012 noting him as the only one of the present team in my best ever York City XI, he’s a fantastic midfield general with real leadership qualities”, so that makes him a shoe in for the Non League XI whilst Andre Boucaud earned plaudits from many teammates. Speaking on York Hospital Ball, both, Jason Walker included who described him as “the best player I ever played with, a massive loss(when he left), a massive part (of our game), ask anyone who has ever played with him and they will say he is the best player they ever played with and he was the best player I ever played with” and Jamie Reed sang his praises.

    I’m afraid I can’t find a place for either Byron Webster or David Stockdale. Many were disappointed when they were released by City, that disappointment compounded as their later careers soared far above what they had achieved with City.

    Chris Brass could easily slot into a number of positions and is fondly remembered by many, both for his on and off field time with City.

    There is little disputing who should fill in at centre back, David McGurk and Daniel Parslow, both legends at Bootham Crescent.

    For the front 3, a strong case could be made for the 2012 attack. Matty Blair, Jason Walker and Ashey Chambers, that season, they never let anyone down.

    Going back a few years, Clayton Donaldson, Andy Bishop and Richard Brodie could all challenged for the striking central position. For his whole hearted endeavour (and scoring ability), Richard Brodie earns a place in the side. His 76 goals are the best in the modern era of nonleague football by any City player, in comparison, Clayton Donaldson is the next best with 44.

    Post City, Matty Blair enhanced his reputation in a way that Ashley Chambers didn’t meaning that Martyn Woolford finds a place in to the side. He thrilled City fans for 2 years before enjoying a decent Championship career. Both Blair and Woolford managed a goal about every 4 games whereas it took Chambers an average of 6 games to score a City goal.

    Disappointingly, excluding Richard Brodie and Jon Parkin, no striker stands out from the 2016 onwards era.

    Finally, the easiest choice of all, Michael Ingham earns the keeper’s gloves.

    That makes 10 players, just enough space to select Sean Newton as captain in a side that switches between 433 and 451 as the game dictates.

    Honourable mentions to Vadaine Oliver and Alex Kempster, both players with abundant ability who we possibly never saw the best of at City.

    Ingham; Oyebanjo, McGurk, Parslow, Meredith; Boucaud, Kerr, Newton; Blair, Brodie, Woolford. Subs: Stockdale, Webster, Wright (Akil), Donaldson, Bishop(A).

    14) 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

    15) Chris Smith

    Whilst not naming a full best City XI that he played with, Chris Smith told York Hospital Ball that he held Nick Pope, Michael Ingham (“incredible for York”), Lanre Oyebanjo (“he just pipped Darren Edmondson (to right back)”), Ty McGurk, Christian Fox, Lee Bullock, “how could I pick between Graham Potter and Ash Chambers for left midfield”, Andre Boucaud (“some of the stuff he did in training was phenomenal and he was really good at protecting the ball”) and Jason Walker amongst the best. He noted Oyebanjo and McGurk could have played at a much higher level but for the injury problems.

    16) Wayne Hall

    In February 2022, speaking on York Hospital Ball Wayne Hall revealed the best XI of players he played with for City. It was Kiely; McMillan ("never understood why he never went higher, fantastic on the ball, great vision"), Warburton ("as a player and person, just class"), Barrass ("another quality, quality player"), Hall; McCarthy, Pepper, Bushell, Canham; Barnes, Cresswell ((as a big man) Helliwell and Borthwick were considered. We all knew Jono (Greening), although just a youngster just coming through, was going on the greater things, the things he could do in training were phenomenal, just special”. He named John Ward as the best manager he had at City, someone who went up in his and the players’ estimation when he broke the news of his departure, ensuring the players were the first to know and being honest about the reasons (financial security for his family). He named a Burnley right winger, whose name he coudn't remember, but believed to be Glen Little, as his most difficult opponent after a serious of tough matches against him.

    17) Gary Wilson

    In October 2021, City fan Gary Wilson speaking on The FANA Fan Podcast named the Best XI he'd seen play for City. In a 4-4-2 formation, they were Kiely; McMillan, Topping, Warburton, Hall; McCarthy, Murty, Pepper, Canham; Barnes, Walwyn. Subs: Pope, Byrne, Coulson. Manager: Alan Little.

    Next?

    Name your best ever team.