In his recollections of great York City players, Christopher Backhouse has reached the business end of the team…
“Forward, forward let us range” – Tennyson.
In this first of two reminiscences about great City forwards, I recall what used to be called either inside left or inside right, habitual wearers of the number 8 or 10 shirt. Number 9 was the sole preserve of the centre forward.
The first to imprint himself in my memory was one of the very best, namely Sid Storey. I once boarded a train in Pontefract to head for York, and there sitting opposite was the great man. Too shy to address him, I studied him surreptitiously and noted that his feet did not reach the floor. Sid had the unmistakable physique of a miner, stocky and very strong for his size, a characteristic shared with most of the soldiers of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry with whom I served.
I saw Sid play many a time starting in 1947. No mean goal scorer himself, he forged a highly effective partnership with Alf Patrick (pictured right), one of the best of all City centre forwards. Sid was, of course, a member of the semi final team and I saw him score the first goal against Blackpool in the third round. Sid was almost an ever present, notching up over 300 appearances in his long career.
Next, Arthur Bottom, whose memory, following his death in 2012, is preserved in Josh Easby’s There’s Only One Arthur Bottom daily worldwide newsletter. Readers, or Arthurites as they are known, number about 1,000!
I first saw Arthur play in a pre-season practice match in 1954. In those days practice matches were internal affairs, but open to the public. I see him now, very short shorts indeed, charging against his own team mates as if they were the enemy. Arthur’s career at York is well documented but he also, almost singlehandedly, saved Newcastle from relegation after leaving York. Arthur will be the first name on my all-time best City team to face my all-time best team selected from players who played against City at Bootham Crescent. I have been appointed manager of both.
Colin Addison followed and was a worthy successor as a goal-scoring inside forward although it is true to say that his fame came later both as a player notably with Arsenal, as a player manager and as a manager of several clubs. I well recall his hat-trick against Workington in 1960. Incidentally, eight of the teams City played in that good season are no longer in the Football League. Others have been out and then in again like ourselves.
I’m now including a little known City inside forward, namely Barry Tait, if only because I played against him. Oh yes I did! It was in an army cup match at Imphal Barracks in National Service days. Barry was hobbling, but played. In a howling gale, his team were up 3-0 with the wind, and we pulled it back after half time. I digress.
Billy Rudd then came upon the scene. His time at City coincided with my army service in Malaya and Borneo and I am sorry to say that I can’t remember seeing him play at all.
Ted MacDougall was the next to capture my imagination. Although his City career was not very long, he was skilful and a prolific goalscorer not only with City but with several other clubs in more exalted leagues. Although he wore the 10 shirt when I first saw him play, Ted should probably be considered a centre forward. He was a contemporary of Phil Boyer with whom he struck up a n excellent partnership. Phil also went on to greater things. More about them in the next article.
I saw John Hawksby and Rich Hewitt only occasionally but remember Chris Jones much better, probably because he scored more often. He was a prominent member of the team that reached the then Second Division for the first time. I saw him score the first at Shrewsbury, when the best goal I ever saw for City, that by little known John Peachey, was the second in a 2-0 win. I set fire to my coat during that game by putting my pipe in my pocket where it ignited a box of matches causing a mild uproar among my neighbours.
John Byrne, he of the miniscule shorts as was the fashion, was a vital member of the promotion team of 1984 when City earned 101 points as they topped the table. John was also an international, one of City’s very few. That John also went on to higher things was a measure of the success of City during that era.
I have done scant justice to other impressive City inside forwards, particularly Kevin McMahon, Jimmy Seal and even Peter Lorimer who I saw play for City at the end of his playing days. I must also remember David Longhurst whose name will live much longer than his tragically curtailed career.
- Part One: When goalies wore green
- Part Two: Backs to front
- Part Three: Left, right and centre
- Part Four: Halfs time
- Part Five: On a wing and a prayer
- Many thanks to David Batters for kindly giving us permission to reproduce pictures from his books Images Of Sport: York City Football Club, published by Tempus, and York City: The Complete Record, published by Breedon Books and available from the York City shop and online here