2019/20: An Incredible Journey. Match Day 17 – Saturday 02 November 2019: York City v Kidderminster Harriers
So having seen on this journey so far, Chelsea, Stenhousemuir, Fulham and Lincoln City (partially at Blackpool) all priority teams ticked off my list, it was time for York City, in the season they are due to leave their Bootham Crescent ground which has been their home since 1932 – coincidently the year my Dad was born.
I had lived in York, well Bishopthorpe just on the outskirts of the city, and had my first marriage in Bishopthorpe too shortly after leaving London. From Bishopthorpe I moved to Huddersfield and met one of my best friends, another Steve. Funnily enough, he is also a Chelsea fan and we have attempted to get to games together whenever possible. We went to the Aston Villa and Arsenal cup finals together, but our best trip was to Amsterdam to watch a few games during the 2014 World Cup. The original plan was to attend the Holland vs Spain opener, however, this was the weekend of my daughters 16th birthday so went for the Holland vs Australia and England vs Uruguay games instead. The Dutch love their football and I have been a big fan since the early 70s sides of Cruyff, Haan, van de Kerkhov brothers, Krol, Neeskens, Rep and Resenbrink – how did they never win the World Cup with that talent?
This wasn’t our first visit to the city, and we knew exactly where we were going to watch the game. We’d bought replica 1974 Dutch shirts and made our way with the locals towards Dam Square and our favourite little brown bar Café Mooy which we’d discovered many years before. We arrived in plenty of time for the kick-off, which was fortunate as the doors were bolted about half an hour before kick-off and everybody lit up. A group of lads started speaking to us in Dutch, fortunately their English was far better than our Dutch. We had a great conversation about Dutch football. I’ve followed Vitesse Arnhem for a number of years since Chelsea started a partnership with them regarding their youngsters, so we were not only able to talk about international football we also had a really great conversation about Dutch league football too. The other bonus was that we didn’t have to buy a drink from that point on. The Oranje went on to beat Australia 3 – 2 and England more or less went out of the Cup losing to Uruguay.
On the day of the York game, it was absolutely pouring down with rain as I drove over the pick Steve up. “It’s cold and wet outside mate you’ll need a coat” I said, and he only then produces exactly the same coat as I was wearing. This is going to be fun I thought, someone will think it’s the geeky brothers day out in the community! We drove to York in the rain which never gave up all day. It was a nightmare to find a parking space, but we eventually found somewhere and walked to the ground. We made it into the away end and a female steward was giving us a few strange looks. “Is it because we’re both wearing the same coat?” I enquired, “Yes!” she said losing her battle to contain her laughter. “It’s alright we don’t get out much!” Steve replied. We managed to hold out in the rain on the open Grosvenor Road terrace until half time before giving in and paid our extra quid to get into the covered Poplar Stand.
On days like this, invariably the weather is the winner and so it proved to be. The opening twenty minutes were pretty forgettable as both sides tried to adjust to the wet and windy conditions. Kidderminster though had the best of that early period with half-chances created for Hemmings and Williams. York finally tested Cameron Gregory the Harriers ‘keeper just after the half-way point of the first-half when he saved from Griffiths. Despite Kidderminster coming into this game in 17th spot, they continued to create the best chances, with Davidson, Williams and Hemmings all firing off-target though. As so often happens, teams then score against the run of play and that happened on thirty-eight minutes. From an Adriano Moke cross, he picked out Griffiths who was able to turn and fire past Gregory and into the bottom right corner to put The Minstermen 1-0 up, an advantage they held at the break, but perhaps didn’t deserve.
Into the second-half and Kidderminster continued to dominate the possession without creating any guilt edged chances with York seemingly content to hold onto their one-goal lead. York brought on Green to give them greater numbers in midfield just before the hour mark and he nearly scored for York later in the half, but Gregory saved his strike. Harriers though continued to battle to the end and got their reward eight minutes from time. From a cross Hemmings and York ‘keeper Jameson went after the loose ball with the Kidderminster striker winning the race and slotting home for the equaliser. Almost immediately after the restart, Kidderminster then nearly took the lead, but substitute Ollie Shenton dragged his shot wide when well placed. It was the last real chance of the game which at the whistle ended 1-1 which was probably the right result. Not a classic, but at least I had a chance to say goodbye to Bootham Crescent.
Saturday 02 November 2019
Vanarama National League North
York City 1 (Griffiths 38’) Kidderminster Harriers 1 (Hemmings 82’)
Venue: Bootham Crescent
York City: Jameson, Griffiths, Ferguson, Newton, McNulty, Tait, Moke, Bond, Burrow, Maguire (Green 58’), Kempster (McFarlane 85’).
Unused Substitutes: Durrell, King, Whitley.
Kidderminster Harriers: Gregory, Austin, Davidson, Butterfield, Moyo, Johnson, Weeks, Williams (Diau 87’), Chambers (Shenton 77’), Hemmings (Prosser 88’), Peniket.
Unused Substitutes: Palmer, Higginson.