Thirty-two years ago today magnificent York City were again shocking the football world as multi-millionaires Arsenal were dramatically beaten by a last-minute Keith Houchen penalty.
Thirty-two years ago today magnificent York City were once again shocking the football world as multi-millionaires Arsenal were dramatically beaten by a last-minute Keith Houchen penalty in an FA Cup fourth round tie at a freezing cold Bootham Crescent.
The mighty Gunners fielded eight full internationals against a York side who were then mid-table in the third tier of the professional game. City were always great cup-fighters but this was really something else on an afternoon of incredibly high drama.
Three inches of snow had to be cleared from the pitch prior to kick-off and moved to the perimeter of the playing area. The London aristocrats clearly didn’t fancy the occasion as much as their fabulous opponents, with eighteen-year-old rookie striker Martin Butler leading the way as they adapted themselves far better to the trying conditions.
England centre-forward Paul Mariner had an early header saved by Mike Astbury and Tommy Caton was marginally wide from a free-kick. At the other end, Houchen went close and the irrepressible Butler’s break was blocked before Gary Ford dragged wide.
It was certainly thrilling stuff despite both defences performing strongly. Renowned international strike pair Mariner and Tony Woodcock forced Astbury into a couple of fine saves after the interval before the imperious Keith Walwyn showed strength and determination to lob goalkeeper John Lukic – but Caton somehow recovered and scrambled off the line.
The Minstermen were fighting magnificently and Butler hoisted over on the end of a brilliant solo run, although a replay was looking the most likely outcome until history was made amid massed hysteria in the very last-minute.
Gallant York attacked one last time down the right through the combined efforts of Walwyn and Butler, and Houchen surged into the area only to be inexplicably brought down by Steve Williams. Referee Don Shaw instantly pointed to the spot directly in front of the vast, swaying ranks of home supporters.
Houchen picked himself up and as the high tension cut through the cold winter air, steadied himself to calmly sidefoot a famous winner inside Lukic’s right-had post and write another piece of glorious folklore.
York City: Astbury, Senior, Hay, Sbragia, MacPhail, Haslegrave, Ford, Butler, Walwyn, Houchen, Pearce
sub (unused): Chippendale
Goals: Houchen (pen 90)
Arsenal: Lukic, Anderson, Samson, Talbot, O’Leary, Caton, Robson, Williams, Mariner, Woodcock, Nicholas (Allinson 77)
Ref: D. Shaw (Sandbach)