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When crowds flocked to Bootham Crescent

When crowds flocked to Bootham Crescent

The immediate aftermath of gallant York City's magnificent run into the FA Cup semi-finals in season 1954-55 witnessed significantly big attendances being maintained at Bootham Crescent.

With the magical 'Happy Wanderers' regularly capturing the hearts of a nation while shocking major top-flight clubs such as Blackpool and Tottenham Hotspur, their home league attendances were simultaneously enjoying a steep rise. City's final average figure of 9,630 was a massive increase of virtually 70% on the previous effort of 5,636.

And that upward trend was to be maintained for their 1955-56 campaign, with Third Division North outfit York spectacularly crashing through the five-figure barrier while recording their second highest-ever season's average of 10,291.

An opening day clash at home to Wrexham instantly drew a bumper 12,332 to the Crescent, although City unfortunately went down to a 3-1 defeat despite a goal from their all-time record marksman Norman Wilkinson.

However, subsequent victories at Crewe Alexandra and Halifax Town brought 11,068 along for an immediate rematch with the Railwaymen, while 11,960 were then in attendance to mark the arrival of neighbours Bradford City.

In all, York's twenty-three home league fixtures attracted no fewer than ten five-figure gates, with Hartlepools United (10,171), Oldham Athletic (11,094), Stockport County (10,908), Grimsby Town (14,566), Mansfield Town (14,209) and Chesterfield (13,476) also proving major draws.

The biggest of the lot was, though, reserved for the final game of the campaign as City's goalscoring machine Arthur Bottom struck the winner against eventual runners-up Derby County - to the delight of the vast majority of the 14,976 in attendance.

Although York were only to finish mid-table at the end of that particular season, they did enjoy further notable FA Cup success while progressing towards the fourth round. Mansfield had already been one of their victims at home with a 13,326 crowd taking in the action.

Then having already shocked Division Two high-flyers Swansea Town and their eight Welsh international in South Wales, there came an epic battle with big-spending First Division club Sunderland, who like City had made it all the way to the semi-finals of the competition the previous season.

An all-ticket 22,000 attendance flocked into the Crescent, and were to observe the hosts being the dominant force but unable to make the vital breakthrough, with their opponents then securing a late 2-1 win in the replay.

The only occasion that the remarkable 1955-56 average figure had been bettered was at the absolute height of the post-war football boom of seven years earlier (1948-49), when amid massively increased interest there were huge crowds assembling right across the country.

Although finishing below mid-table, York's final average for that season was 10,412, and that included an all-time record home league crowd of 21,010 for the visit of champions Hull City.

However, City's highest-ever home gate remains the 28,123 for an FA Cup quarter-final tie with Huddersfield Town in March 1938, with spectators on that occasion beginning to assemble several hours before kick-off as the wonderful hosts were once again captivating the nation.

York's biggest-ever home crowd, 28,123 against Huddersfield Town in March 1938

Video Link: British Pathe

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Writer:Vital York City
Date:Thursday November 9 2017
Time: 3:00PM

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