Sixty-three years ago today, York City supporters were waking up to a bright and sunny morning and incredibly an FA Cup quarter-final at Second Division promotion-chasers Notts County.
Sixty-three years ago today, 12th March 1955, York City supporters were waking up to a bright and sunny morning and incredibly an FA Cup quarter-final at Second Division promotion-chasers Notts County.
More than 11,000 of their expectant followers made the journey as part of a still record all-ticket 47,301 attendance at Meadow Lane. York had already sensationally knocked out top-flight duo Blackpool (1953 winners) and Tottenham Hotspur, while their opponents had similarly accounted for soon-to-be League champions Chelsea.
The Magpies were therefore strong favourites against their unchanged opponents, although both defences remained in the ascendancy during an opening half of few scoring opportunities.
York’s prolific inside-forward Arthur Bottom already had thirty goals to his credit, and sent the ball into the net once again on ten minutes – but was ruled offside. Tot Leverton later did likewise for the home side and had similarly infringed.
Gallant City had enjoyed the better of the opening twenty minutes, although goalkeeper Tommy Forgan saved well after a shot took a deflection and threatened to wrong-foot him as the higher-ranked outfit rallied.
Indeed the hosts were to enjoy their best spell of the game at the start of the second period, with Forgan denying Leverton at close-range and then keeping out Ron Wylie. His opposite number Gordon Bradley reacted superbly when industrious playmaker Sid Storey suddenly threatened to make the breakthrough.
But that was to finally arrive with just twelve minutes remaining. Leon Leuty fouled centre-forward Norman Wilkinson just outside the penalty area, and Billy Hughes’ free-kick witnessed Storey’s shot deflecting towards Bottom, who immediately slotted in from close-range – to joyous celebrations.
Winger Billy Fenton almost added a second for the visitors as the closing minutes proved unbelievably tense, before their supporters could finally acknowledge an historic triumph as they raced onto the pitch to greet their valiant heroes.
News of the gallant ‘Happy Wanderers’ becoming only the third third-tier club to reach the FA Cup semi-finals was already being relayed back to the great city. The final result was suddenly flashed across local cinema screens while there was a huge roar at Clarence Street, where York’s rugby league team were already in action.
That evening there were absolutely incredible scenes across the city, with fourteen specially commissioned trains returning and a colossal army of wild, cheering fans clad in red and white providing a cauldron of noise and unbridled delight.
Several hundred of them then assembled on Blossom Steet to welcome back the team as they arrived along the Tadcaster Road to a heroes reception: York City (4th, Div 3 North) were sensationally in the last four of an FA Cup dominated by traditional northern powerhouses, with First Division Sunderland (4th), Manchester City (7th) and Newcastle United (8th) completing the glittering quartet.
Notts County: Bradley, Southwell, Deans, Adamson, Leuty, Johnston, Wills, Wylie, Jackson, Leverton, Broadbent
York City: Forgan, Phillips, Howe, Brown, Stewart, Spence, Hughes, Bottom, Wilkinson, Storey, Fenton
Goals: Bottom (78)
Ref: H. Haworth (Blackburn)
Video Link: British Pathe
Video Link: British Movietone