Six years ago today, 20th May 2012, York City were proudly completing the most incredible nine days of their history when winning at Wembley for a second time in just over a week in their promotion play-off final.
Having already taken care of Newport County and claimed their first-ever national knockout competition in the FA Trophy, the Minstermen sensationally came from behind at the national stadium to defeat big rivals Luton Town and secure a return to the Football League following an eight-year absence.
That was despite the colossal shock of Andre Gray giving their opponents the lead inside just two minutes. But Ashley Chambers equalised with a brilliantly controlled half-volley before fans’ hero Matty Blair poached the truly historic winner early in the second-half.
“To come to Wembley two weeks running and do the double is an incredible feeling,” jubilant manager Gary Mills told The Press. “In fact, with the ground announcement, it’s been a terrific treble and probably the best hat-trick ever at York City Football Club. Luton probably did us a favour bringing so many fans as it turned it into a bit of an away game. In truth, I only heard the York supporters. They have been brilliant all season.”
“Eight years is a long time in anyone’s life,” chairman Jason McGill admitted. “When the final whistle went there was a feeling of elation. I don’t see why we can’t operate, break even, invest in the squad and put together a team that can compete in League Two. I truly believe with the structure we have got that we are a top half of League One team.”
Skipper Chris Smith felt it was a case of righting past wrongs having been relegated out of the Football League with the club before: “It’s unbelievable to be back in the League,” he exclaimed. “It feels like I have repaid some of the fans. I am not saying it was all my fault but I was part of that squad that got relegated. Now, back in the League, I feel the club is in a more stable position.”
Delighted goalscorer Chambers continued: “It’s been a crazy, crazy time, but it’s been fantastic. It’s why you play football. We came here eight days ago and put in a shift then, and now we’ve won again, after going a goal down. It’s hard to describe the emotions. When it settles down, I think we will realise what it’s done for the fans and for the city.”
However, once again it was Blair emerging as York’s match-winner while claiming his twentieth goal of a truly incredible campaign: “It has been not just a great season for York but a great one for me as well – scoring 20 goals from wide and being a part of such a great squad has been amazing,” he added. “The feeling is just incredible. I’m happy to have scored but it’s about the whole squad.”
Rewind Extra – May 2012