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York City FC on the up at new ground

Dom Smith looks at York City are progressing at their new stadium

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Life at the brand new LNER York Community Stadium is bobbing along quite nicely for York City Football Club. The club moved out of their stadium since 1932, Bootham Crescent, in February 2021 — moving straight into the Community Stadium. This state-of-the-art 8,500-seater stadium was partly funded by a £2 million loan from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

Following a tough season last time out — which in the end was abandoned due to Covid-19 — the Minstermen seem to have rediscovered much of their 2019/20 form in the early weeks of the 2021/2022 campaign. Three defeats from three made for a horrendous start to the season for Steve Watson’s side. However, since a clinical 3-1 away win over Spennymoor Town on 30 August, York have won four of their five games. Granted, one of those wins came in FA Cup qualifying, but the upsurge in form leaves the Minstermen 12th of 22 teams in the National League North — the sixth tier of the English football pyramid.

York City’s historical Bootham Crescent ground is meanwhile being demolished in order to make space for new housing developments. But the Minstermen’s nostalgic support-base were so eager to commemorate parts of the creaking old stadium that the club formed a working association with Historic England, a public body sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture and Sport (DCMS) who seek to renovate and commemorate listed buildings of significance and notable landmarks in England. One of the key areas the two have collaborated on has been the preservation of the specific seats that season-ticket-holders used to sit in week in, week out. Those with season tickets were then able to collect their personal chairs — a nice touch.

One such season-ticket-holder, Steve Sexton, spoke to Nouse Sport in January 2021 to discuss his hopes for his beloved team as they navigated their now-completed move to the LNER Community Stadium. Sexton said he expected: “at least promotion back to the league above, which I think is the absolute minimum most York City supporters expect of the team, given its history. I think we’re well on the way to achieving that. Slightly longer-term, you ask yourself, where realistically can a club like that get to? There’s no reason why York couldn’t get back into the Football League. How far could it go? Maybe mid-table in League 1.”

But as the pandemic’s third and fourth waves stalled the easing of lockdowns and restrictions in the UK, lower-league football was deemed too much of a risk to continue. Creating Covid-friendly bubbles is much easier when you are a multibillion-pound Premier League giant. And so Sexton has had to wait for York City’s promotion to the fifth-tier. As things stand, there is a little way to go. But York have certainly made a decent start to this season.

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