FA Trophy, Third Round Qualifying
York city 3 – 1 Coalville Town
Bootham Crescent is one of those classic-sounding grounds with oodles of character and history, apart from the PR disaster that was the KitKat Crescent era.
Of course labeling anything classic automatically dates it, and Bootham Crescent is certainly dated. That’s not a criticism, well, not too much of one anyway. Don’t get me wrong – I love a ground steeped in history and dripping with nostalgia. But at York, it’s as though time has stood still. Again, not a bad thing, and they are potentially moving into a purpose-built stadium, but my first experience of Bootham Crescent was a strange one.
There was an oddness to its layout. Once through the away turnstiles, and having reached the top of the stairs on the second tier of a two-tiered stand, a small but noisy gathering of Coalville fans were ushered into an area consisting of old wooden seats (not that anyone was actually sat on them much). Nothing wrong with that, but it soon became apparent that once in, there was no bar or food stall. I asked the steward if there was a bar. He seemed unsure. “Er…I think so. You’ll have to go down the stairs and out that door”, was his uncertain response, pointing to a door down the stairs next to the entrance but with no exit sign. So he gave me a slip of paper with ‘Admission’ printed on it – so I could return later – and I made my way through a door I wasn’t convinced I had permission to go through such was his uncertainty. But he was right. And out into the surrounding complex I went, where there was a food stall, toilets and a club shop. But where was the bar? Well actually you can’t get to it from the ground. You have to leave the complex, under the ‘Welcome to Bootham Crescent’ sign and onto the road. Turning right I spotted the door. Blink and you miss it, as many Coalville fans did, instead choosing a local pub for their pre-match beers.
Returning to the ground, I handed my ‘Admission’ slip to a steward who let me through the ‘exit’ and back into the stand. It was all very odd, and for punters with weak bladders, a thirst or a hunger, it’s certainly not ideal as you have to collect the admission slip and repeat the process every time you wish to pee, drink or eat.
Anyway, to the game. York, who managed to get back into the league a few years ago, are now playing in the National League North. Their visitors, my Trophy Quest team Coalville, are two steps below them in the non-league pyramid, playing in the Evo-Stik Premier Division. With The Minstermen being the Trophy holders, they were odds on favourites to win this Third Round Qualifying tie.
But the game is not played on paper, and it was fairly equal for large parts. But York eventually began to look slightly the better side and took the lead on 36 minutes through striker Gary Martin.
After the break they went further ahead when they were awarded a harsh penalty. Coalville midfielder Kyle Dixon was adjudged to have handled a cross from Sean Newton, but it was certainly more ball to hand than hand to ball, and the midfielder had every reason to air his frustration at the ref. However the decision stood, and Journeyman striker Jon Parkin tucked away the spot kick with consummate ease.
You’ll remember Parkin. He’s a striker who has always carried a bit of weight, even when he was playing league football. I remember being at Preston for a FA Cup tie with Liverpool and noticing his impressive beer belly. He’s still got it. But he also got his 16th goal of the season with York’s third goal, which sealed the game after Coalville had quickly gotten back into the game with a sweeping goal from Daniel Creaney, straight after Parkin’s spot kick.
Substitute James Gray was tripped by defender Dean Freeman and the ref once again pointed to the spot. Up stepped “Big fat Parkin” – not my words, but the words of a Coalville taunt – to seal the win for the home side.
So I now follow the holders as they go in search of a win at Kidderminster.
I’ll end by saying how excellent the Coalville fans were at Bootham Crescent. They hollered chant after chant, with some humour added in, with Parkin’s belly being the target for many a chant. He’ll have heard it all before though, he won’t mind.
I was pleased they had a goal to cheer because they deserved that, and, at 2-1, there was a real belief that their side could perhaps earn a replay.
So good luck to them for the season ahead. Meanwhile I’m off to the land of carpets on Saturday.
Pics from the game