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York City's Keepers: World War 2

Football continued throughout the war years with many players on national service guesting for local clubs. City, with barracks in Fulford, Strensall and catterick were well placed to have some well known guest players
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Football was played during World War 2. The 1939/40 season ended on September 2, 1939, the day before war was declared. Football was immediately closed down.

Within a few weeks, plans for war time football were in place. Teams would play in regional leagues and were allowed to field guest players. Typically such players were forces personnel who were stationed nearby or who were home on leave. City were in the fortunate position of being surrounded by large army camps. Fulford, Strensall and further afield, Catterick barracks were to provide City with a constant stream of high quality guest players, including some international stars such as Dixie Deans and Raich Carter. Regional football saw City play many games against the likes of Leeds, Newcastle and the 2 Sheffield sides.

In April 1936, John "Jack" Ellis was in goal for Bristol Rovers when they lost 12-0 v Luton (with Joe Payne scoring 10 goals). He made one guest appearance in goal for City during World War 2.

Bob Ferguson, City's keeper at the outbreak of war kept goal in City's first war time campaign. Other notables to keep goal for City included Sam Bartram and Arthur Jepson. Bartram was widely considered the best keeper of his era never to play for England. He starred for many years for Charlton, playing in both the 1946 and 1947 FA Cup finals. Later. Bartram was to make 579 Football League appearances for Charlton, setting many Charlton club records along the way, many remained unbeaten for over 40 years until Dean Kiely came along. Bartram was to return to York as manager in 1956.

Incidentally, Bartram was a former centre forward and wing half before finding his true vocation in goal. To this day, he holds a host of Charlton club records (most appearances, most goals conceded, oldest player etc) which may never be beaten. He was also the first City manager to have his autobiography in the shops (later followed by Wilf McGuinness, Denis Smith and caretaker Neil Redfearn). He was a decent journalist after leaving football, which is more than can be said about the efforts of some of our more recent managers. True Bartram fact. He is the goalie who stayed on the pitch for over 15 minutes after the ref abandoned a home game against Chelsea on a foggy Christmas Day in 1937. He thought Charlton must be attacking without scoring as there was no noise and the players didn't return to the Charlton half to line up for a kick off.

Jepson, another highly rated keeper once saved 2 penalties for City in a cup tie with Bradford.

1942/3 was City's best war time season. With Bartram a regular in goal, City reached the semi finals of The League Cup North before losing to Sheffield Wednesday.

In 1944, Peter Pickering first signed for City, an association that was to continue after the war. However, Sam Bartram was still the star in goal, making over 20 appearances in City's last war time season. His duties expanded as he became the side's regular penalty taker for a time, including netting 2 penalties in a 2-0 win over Darlington. City's war time soccer ended just as it had started, with Bob Ferguson in goal, a position he was to retain as The Football League resumed in August 1946. His soccer career was to continue with Peterborough and Goole, his cricket career continued for many years in the strong Bradford League.

For more on City's WW2 keepers, please refer to New Frontiers - Issue 15

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