Its been difficult to work out whether the association of York and the Shambles is just attributed to the cobbled streets or whether it extends the off-field chaos at York City Football Club. Since my last column so much has happened after the biggest vote since Brexit occurred, when the supporters trust decided against handing their shares to Chairman Jason McGill who then quit as chairman and put the club up for sale. Needless to say, no multi-billionaire has stepped forward to take on a club in tier 6 of English football, but I live in hope that common sense will prevail, and some sort of middle ground will be met so that York City don’t open the new Community Stadium playing Haxby Town.
All this has been offset against the latest accounts that read last year’s financial records reported a near million-pound loss despite parachute payments and another Wembley visit. Some fans have been scratching their heads at that one, but they only have to pick up a matchday programme to see a squad of 25 players and Martin Gray’s coaching team being a bigger entourage than Kim Kardashian’s, to see where some of that money has gone.
At time of reading York City’s season could have gone one of three ways: The club could have failed to get into the end of season play-offs which really would be a disaster, but in writing this after defeats to Harrogate and Nuneaton the quest to come in the Top 7 places isn’t guaranteed. They could, however, have battled into the play-offs but fallen short at some point during the three matches needed to secure promotion. Or maybe, just maybe, Martin Gray has steered the team to an unlikely promotion which has rewarded the long-suffering fans with some joy, or light relief, to not having to spend another season in regionalised football. If that’s the case, forget the entourage comment; the more the merrier on that bench.
Okay, so there is probably more chance Jamie Carragher winning role model of the year than the Minster men ending the campaign winning promotion, but if they can get a ticket to the lottery (and Big Jon Parkin is back and firing) you never know in football. After being at Old Trafford for that glorious 3-0 victory in 1995, you never rule things out, though someone pointed out every other week 2500 people coming to the same place hoping for a miracle could be misinterpreted. Perhaps it goes some way to explaining why the PA guy says after each game “until the next time; keep the faith”.
All the uncertainty off the field has got supporters comparing things to the early 00s, when Jon Batchelor was in charge. I personally don’t feel it’s quite the same, as this time there isn’t the same comedic element to it. Batchelor renamed the team York City Soccer Club to make us more known in the US, and having just come back from the states I didn’t see anyone with a city shirt on. We also signed a Brazilian striker Rogerio, or Rodge to his adoring fans (I think there were a couple of them), in an effort to sell Brazil shirts in the club shop. Only at York City would you see the world’s only Brazilian professional footballer unable to trap a ball. His debut showed some flare honed on the streets of Rio with a mazy dribble, beating a couple of players but then hit a shot that went out for a throw in. Supporters think James Gray is bad but at least he has a goal to name.
At least we have all had chance to laugh at Australian cricket recently with their two (only) good players, Steve Smith and the loveable David Warner, caught up in a ball tampering scandal and suspended. Fair play to the young South African supporter who asked Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon to sign his sandpaper. He failed to see the funny side, but a Brisbane bookstore did when they started stocking Steve Smith’s autobiography in the ‘True Crime’ section.