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York City's Keepers: 1929-39

City' early years saw a series of journeymen keepers in goal for City
Intro 1929-39 World War 2 1946-1970
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York City joined The Football League in 1929. Journeyman, John Farmery was City's first keeper. The former Bradford City, Hull and Doncaster keeper joined the club on their election to Division 3 (North) and was to be the regular keeper for the next 2 seasons. An imposing figure in goal, he served City well, the highlights of his time at City being the cup success City enjoyed when they forced Newcastle and Sheffield United to away draws before losing the replays at Fulfordgate in our first 2 seasons in the league. In the Newcastle replay, even a penalty save by Farmery from the Scottish international, Hughie Gallacher couldn't prevent City losing 2-1. Farmery's first season saw City finish sixth, our best pre war season in terms of league position. His deputy Ralph Ridley (signed in 1929 from Ashington when City replaced them in The Football League) was first choice for the 1931-2 season. He lost his place to Richard Thornton who played the last 11 games of the season. Both keepers left the club at the close season.

Next in goal was experienced Joe Duckworth, he lasted only 7 games (but had the honour of being City's first Bootham Crescent keeper) before being replaced by Des Fawcett. He was a regular for the best part of 2 seasons, Wilf Burrows making 3 appearances when deputising during the 1933-4 season. He was signed from Selby and later played for Tranmere and Wrexham.

For the 1934-5 season, Joe Cunningham was signed from QPR. He was an ever present in his only season with the club. Despite pre season optimism, City struggled and finished 15th. He probably best remembered his season at Bootham Crescent for a thoroughly bad tempered FA Cup tie at Burton which saw scuffles between players and some spectators. He had 2 policemen positioned behind his goal to provide him with protection.

Another disappointing season followed, in goal George Wilson was on the end of several big defeats. He conceded 4 and 6 goals twice, on 3 occasions he conceded 5 and once he conceded 7. The nadir of his season being on February 1, 1936 when he was in goal when City played at Chester. City suffered their biggest ever defeat. 12-0. Press reports of the day absolved him from blame. His deputy, George Craven made just 3 first team appearances.

The only pre war keeper to make more than 100 appearances for City was Norman Wharton. He joined City in the summer of 1936 having previously played for Barrow, Preston, Sheffield United, Norwich and Doncaster. He won a Division 3 South championship medal whilst with Norwich. He was City's first choice keeper during his 3 seasons at Bootham Crescent, the highlight surely being his FA Cup displays. His finest performance probably being in an FA Cup tie at Swansea in 1937. He starred again the following season as City reached Round 6. Reports of all the cup games are liberally sprinkled with his outstanding saves. In August 1939 he moved to Leeds. For City, he was a regular for 3 seasons. His ability is demonstrated by the fact that his deputy, Stanley Milton made just 9 appearances during Wharton's 3 seasons at York. However, in summer 1937, reporting on a pre season friendty, The Press noted "3 or 4 spectators 'baited' Wharton from behind the goal, but when a police officer moved in their direction, they became like lambs". The 1939/40 season opened with new signing Bob Ferguson in goal.

In an era of big squads and contracts weighted heavily in favour of the clubs, we had a succession of journeyman keepers, none of whom reached any great heights in their football careers.

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