A new book by York City fan Paul Wilson charts the club’s epic double-winning 2011/12 season. STEPHEN LEWIS reports
SEASONS don’t come much better than York City’s of 2011/12. On May 12 the club’s fans celebrated a Wembley victory, when the team lifted the FA Trophy by beating Mansfield 2-0 at the home of football.
A week later, almost unbelievably, the Minstermen topped that historic win: returning to Wembley for the second time in eight days to beat arch-rivals Luton 2-1 in the Blue Square Premier play-off finals and secure a return to the Football League after eight long years.
Life-long City fan and season ticket holder Paul Wilson was at Wembley for both games. And in his new book City Are Back, which charts the club’s epic trophy and promotion-winning season, he gives a fine account of what it was like to be there.
Describing the tension towards the end of the play-off final, when Luton were attacking in waves as their fans bayed for an equaliser, he writes: “Time dragged on, and on. I had no fingernails left. I had one eye on the Stadium clock, and one eye on proceedings on the pitch. The tension was growing like some nasty… bug festering in my stomach…the City fans were strangely muted; anxious, nervous, but just a little hopeful that their wildest dreams were coming true.”
Then, after an agonising last few minutes, the final whistle blew. “It was atomic,” Paul writes. “All of a sudden I was in the aisle, punching the air in delight, and performing a ridiculous victory jig of celebration. In that moment, Wembley belonged to me (and a few thousand others, naturally).”
Paul, who has lived in Roecliffe all his life, has been a City fan since he began supporting them as an 11 year old in 1967. In his introduction to City Are Back, he describes what it is like to be a true fan. “Football!” he writes. “Either you are born with it in your blood, or you are not... Football can raise you up to such a level that you feel like the happiest person on Earth, or else it can leave you virtually suicidal.”
There were plenty of highs and lows in City’s epic 2011/12 season. Paul’s month-by-month account takes you through them all, culminating in that epic victory over Luton.
His last words of the book, referring to those two Wembley finals, are: “There was nothing quite like being there.” Maybe not. But at least this book gives a sense of what it was like to be a City fan that stunning season.
City Are Back: Double Glory for the Minstermen by Paul S Wilson (Croft, £15). Available from the York City club shop, local newsagents, or from the publishers (with an extra £3 p&p) at croftpublications.co.uk