Another bucket list thing ticked off, H has been to watch York City play. Seeing as Sutton United’s ground is two stops on the train for us it was easy to get to as well.
York City are my home team. My long-standing support lies with Tottenham, but when you’re up north in the eighties the chances of seeing them are next to non-existent. So I watched York City for many years until I got a paper round and couldn’t go to Saturday games any more.
York have not had the easiest ride. After the eighties wave of excellence we started hovering around the lower end of the league. Occasional moments of excellence, a rivalry with Luton Town of all teams, a few trips to Wembley with accompanying songs and support who never gives up.
These last few seasons have been bad. We had a manager who seemed to put out statements about how hopeful he was we’d stay up (when we had lost again), who got replaced a few months ago. Now he’s running the club on a day to day basis. Sigh. Oh, and now York are third from the bottom in the Vanarama League. It’s all looking like we’ll drop to the Vanarama North.
Every point is crucial. So we headed to West Sutton on the train, and took the short walk to the club. This is proper football. Non-segregated around the ground, some seating available in the main stand but everyone mixed together. Very suitable for kids (apart from some songs but it went over their heads and was far enough they couldn’t hear).
Entry cost £15 for Shaun, I had my NUS card so it was £8, and £3 for H. Not cheap, but we’re supporting the football clubs which have no money. (Sutton do have a bit of money after their FA Cup run, but that’s a freak thing and a great thing too that even H might gain as Sutton United run one of her PE classes at school)
For most of the game the York players didn’t look like they knew each other. There were occasional moments but nothing seemed to happen. A couple of late substitutions and being 2-0 down, we started to head towards the exit. But then it happened! We scored! I’d joked as we started to leave “watch this, they’ll get two back now to stop us from leaving” – could it happen?
There was no more than two or three minutes left. The goal was by us as we were on the York side (the joys of having a ground you can walk around), and it felt like actually, we could do this. AND WE DID!
2-2 final score. Blimey. Those last ten minutes were worth it. Given York’s usual pattern is to go ahead then concede in the dying minutes, this was what we needed. When Sutton scored their first goal H handed me my vintage York City scarf (well, 1980s one) with a look of sadness, of all hope disappearing. This time H was on Shaun’s shoulders cheering with the biggest smile on her face.
Football at this level is so important. There is very little money – though some players still earn silly money. It isn’t like going to a Tottenham game. H needs to see that this is where it all begins. If you’re lucky a talented player might come through your ranks (though will get pinched by a bigger club). But that player could be your neighbour, your classmate…
We left Gander Green Lane and found a local child-friendly pub in the Robin Hood on West Street, Sutton. It had board games so H set up a chess game, then followed that up with Scrabble while we watched the Lincoln FA Cup game.
We have to keep everything crossed York can get enough points to stay up. A couple of wins could do it, depending on the other results. We don’t have long.