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Villa Memories


Villa Memories:

One of my strongest earliest memories goes back to 17th August 1974, when newly-promoted York City - resplendent in their glorious maroon & white 'Y-fronts' - kicked-off their first-ever season in the second tier of English football against Aston Villa.

Bootham Crescent was packed as almost nine-and-a-half-thousand fans hustled into the homely little stadium on a glorious and balmy mid-August afternoon, wondering how their local heroes would fare during a season that guaranteed clashes against the likes of Manchester United, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Norwich City, West Bromwich Albion, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham. It was really uncharted territory for us all. But first up, it was Villa, who I'd already seen my heroes knock out of the League Cup the previous season - reserve striker John Peachey earning us a plum tie with Orient (not!) in the next round.

But Villa were a big club - the packed away end at the Crescent that memorable sunny afternoon certainly reinforced that. I'd already heard of most of their players. Goalkeeper Jim Cumbes I'd seen on TV playing cricket for Worcestershire. The likes of John Gidman and Brian Little were international class and complemented the obvious skill of Ray Graydon on the right and Frank Carrodus down the other side. Big, bustling Sammy Morgan led the line, and there was also a mighty presence in the centre of defence in the trusty frame of Chris Nicholl - two more internationals to boot.

And then there was Chico. I was just a kid and I'd never heard of a 'Chico' before. The name might have suggested a clown or a woeful karaoke singer, but there was nothing funny about midfielder Chico Hamilton (whose real name was apparently Ian.) And while on that point, let us not forget left-back Charlie Aitken. The sound of his name and the immediate impression he portrayed rather instilled me with renewed hope - for to a simple young boy like me, he resembled more a fourth division left-back - short-back-and-sides and no messing with his clearances was Charlie. Maybe City might just cope this season?

It certainly looked that way when Barry Lyons cracked a low shot inside Cumbes' right-hand post on eight minutes to give York the lead. I was in heaven. But then that man Aitken kicked off the line from Jimmy Seal before my 'mate' Chico crossed for Graydon to head an equaliser. And 1-1 was how it was to remain, despite the best efforts of both teams to find a winner. It didn't matter though, we were now on our way and this was the big time, although my only disappointment was that I didn't get to see my favourite 'Villain' Pat McMahon in action.

And if you were wondering, we did cope. Well, at one stage we were as high as fifth in the table (I kid you not!), chasing hard on the heels of Manchester United, Sunderland, Villa and Norwich. Even those tame little Tigers from Humberside were below us. Victories positively flowed. A 2-0 win at Fulham with the likes of Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery taking late high teas at the Cottage. A league double over Norwich left the Canaries scrambling for scraps at the bottom of their cage. Solid three-goal wins over Portsmouth and Sheffield Wednesday suggested we were really getting to grips with our new found lofty status, while Hull City and Bristol Rovers were also sent packing by the same scoreline. Fulham came to Bootham Crescent looking for revenge and we beat them again.

Naturally there were serious hiccups. Yes, we lost commendably to Manchester United and Sunderland each time. But they were all close games. By contrast, the result at Villa was nothing short of a gigantic burp. 4-0 to Chico's gang and I seriously questioned as to whether we were really getting the hang of this? But a penultimate weekend victory at fellow newcomers Bristol Rovers finally secured our safety and the prospect of more second division football for another twelve months. A very respectable fifteenth place for my favourites. Mission impossible, never - this was mission truly accomplished.

Granted we of course bottled out the following season and crashed to relegation as only a woeful Portsmouth side kept us off the bottom table. But for me, I will always remember the heady sunshine of that lovely August afternoon and the start of the big time - and Villa.

With thanks to Steve - our Vital York editor


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The Journalist

Writer: Steve - Vital York City Ed Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 25 2010

Time: 3:47PM

Your Comments

great article, thanks so much Steve
The Fear
great article, thanks so much Steve
The Fear
dont live far from York city :)
Tr1dent
nice train museum, not been to York for years but had a lovely day out as a kid on a school trip. Only thing I couldn't understand is why the hell they took us to the grave of Dick Turpin. I wanted ice cream personally! lol
The Fear
Remember the game well. Traveled up to the game on the footie special from New Street Station, and spent virtually the whole trip moaning and complaining about the appointment of the dour and surly Ron Saunders as manager, as opposed to other more well-received names that were in the frame. First game in a very successful season for us, promotion and the League Cup winners, Ron Saunders proving that us amongst the 'Doubting Thomas' brigade clearly hadn't got a clue about what we were spouting off about.
glensider
That's sounds familiar Glensider! I was at that game as well. A youthful and trim (unlike now) 15 year old.
cheshire villan
That's sounds familiar Glensider! I was at that game as well. A youthful and trim (unlike now) 15 year old.
cheshire villan
So has he thrown away all thoughts and started to follow the Villa or what?
PTP
So has he thrown away all thoughts and started to follow the Villa or what?
PTP
the fear, im 15 now and have been train place many of times with skwl lol, yorkshire also has the best ice cream :)
Tr1dent
That story is what REAL soccer is about. Remember york beating us in the league cup. Ofcourse I was still in my mothers womb!?!
Villaninthemerde
That story is what REAL soccer is about. Remember york beating us in the league cup. Ofcourse I was still in my mothers womb!?!
Villaninthemerde
I remember the day well - also travelled up on the football special from New Street. Recall what felt like a longish walk in the sunshine and worrying that we might not get in. A packed away end, open to the elements and the elements were kind.
JimmyG
JimmgG and Cheshire Villan, well that's three of us old timers still alive and kicking. Great memory eh? The old football specials were truly something else. The human mass brawl when the train pulled into New Street station, as everyone fought and scrambled to get onboard and grab their seat of preference, knowing that the very same scenario would take place prior to the return trip. Great days. British Rail did us proud.
glensider
remember hundreds of police herding us to and from the railway station,smell of the chocolate factory,losing lots of dosh playing brag,never missed an away game that season.happy days. UTV.
mszaa
remember hundreds of police herding us to and from the railway station,smell of the chocolate factory,losing lots of dosh playing brag,never missed an away game that season.happy days. UTV.
mszaa
The worst away day was Norwich - was it one of the last matches of the season when we were promoted from Div 2? Anyway took the afternoon off school for something like a 5 hour rail trip. The train was ambushed on the way out of Norwich afterwards and all the windows put through. Another 5 hour tripo but with no windows. And you try telling the kids of today.....................
cheshire villan
The worst away day was Norwich - was it one of the last matches of the season when we were promoted from Div 2? Anyway took the afternoon off school for something like a 5 hour rail trip. The train was ambushed on the way out of Norwich afterwards and all the windows put through. Another 5 hour tripo but with no windows. And you try telling the kids of today.....................
cheshire villan
And! Sheffield United away when we looking for an away win in Div 1 the first season up. There was trouble at the United end early on. When the match finished the locals were waiting for us en-masse and the police opened the gates and said we suggest that you run!
cheshire villan
 

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