York City have a long and glorious FA Cup history. In successive 1980s seasons we reached Round 5. Both times we were drawn at home to Liverpool.

City have always enjoyed a reputation as a cup team, with exploits dating back to the 1930s and including victories agaist many of the biggest clubs in the country. Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton included. In the 1980s, once again, the nation looked on as in successive seasons, City reached Round 5 of The FA Cup, both times we were drawn at home to Liverpool.

York City’s renowned cup exploits have earned many plaudits. Ever since the 1930s, City have grabbed national (and international) attention.

An early cup run was followed by a Quarter Final appearance in 1938 which lead to an invite to play a friendly game in Holland.

1955 saw us reach the FA Cup semi final. The first Division 3 (now Tier 3) to play in an FA Cup semi final, the furthest anyone from that tier has ever progressed in the competition. Exploits including beating Stanley Matthews' Blackpool and Spurs caught the imagination of the footballing world.

The late, great Bill Shankly, when once asked who he wanted to play in the next round of The FA Cup replied, "anyone but York away". This was soon followed by epic ties against Southampton and a 1973 League Cup campaign. After our 1984 promotion to Division 3, City were on the cup trail again. Not once, but twice.


City earned national headlines and a prime slot on the Saturday night highlights programme with a victory over Arsenal in Round 4 in 1985.

City Prepare For Arsenal

City Beat Arsenal

Round 5 saw Liverpool visit York.

Memories of a 1975 League Cup tie were still clear in the minds of many City supporters, “we wuz robbed", many cried as a late penalty earned Liverpool a 1-0 win. After the game, the position of the foul was clearly discernible on the rain sodden pitch, a good 6 inches outside the penalty area.

The wintry conditions which had seen City beat Arsenal (a late Keith Houchen penalty), were still prevalent 3 weeks later when Liverpool came to York. A classic Ian Rush goal gave Liverpool a lead. Back to goal, he picked up the ball from a free kick, swivelled and scored in the blink of an eye, to this day, the fastest piece of footwork I have ever seen. Ricky Sbragia hit back to earn a replay. It seemed that City were having to play to the best of their ability to stay in the game, indeed, as Liverpool turned up the pressure after Sbragia’s late equaliser, Liverpool had a goal disallowed.

Incidentally, apart from being hit by a bottle whilst celebrating his equaliser, Ricky Sbragia recalled it was the first time he'd worn leather studs and the next day he was driving down the M62 to do a photo shoot with Ian Rush for a national newspaper.

Over 7,000 City fans made the trek along the M62 and over The Pennines for the replay in front of a very near capacity 43,010 crowd.

Cramped in a small section of the ground, high above a corner flag, there were plenty of sore throats the next morning as City fans sang their hearts out in support of their team. For the replay, Round 4 hero, attacking minded Keith Houchen came back into the side to replace defensive midfielder Sean Haslegrave. Possibly one of the most unsung players City ever had, he was a great passer of the ball, great winner of the ball, didn’t give it away much and was always a tenacious presence in midfield. For someone considered good enough to be signed by Brian Clough for his Forest side, he never got the plaudits he should have got at City. In hindsight, perhaps Haslegrave’s grittiness would have been more appropriate at Anfield than the desire to give Houchen a game. On the pitch, Liverpool gave a performance which would have seen them steam roller many far better teams than City. City didn't play badly, but Liverpool produced an excellent footballing display as they ran out 7-0 winners. There was no disgrace for City, no defensive errors, no capitulation, just sheer class from Liverpool. City's premier fanzine, Terrace Talk noted, "If we played half as well in every game, we'd be certainties to go up", but as the front cover of the same issue noted, "the subsequent gutless performances at Gillingaham and Walsall", within a week of Anfield saw our season peter out.


The following season saw City in FA Cup action again. Remarkably, we progressed to Round 5 by beating non league clubs all the way.

Even more remarkably, City earned another home draw against Liverpool in Round 5.

This time, Liverpool didn’t seem to be as formidable as a year earlier. City made the running. The forwards combined to allow Gary Ford to put City ahead on the hour. Jan Molby equalised.

Once again, a large City following made the trek to Anfield for the replay. A home quarter final tie against either Watford or Bury beckoned for the winners.

This time, we saw City outplay their hosts. Tony Canham equalised in first half following a long, mazy run. Later, he was to recall scuffing his shot and turning away only to realise he'd scored when he heard the crowd roar. With just over 20 minutes to go and the score at 1-1 there was controversy as a late Keith Walwyn goal was ruled out. Grobbelaar and Hansen left the ball to each other, Walwyn muscled in to stroke the ball home as Lawrenson joined the other 2 Liverpool players in a heap on the floor. Referee Howard Taylor signalled a goal, but with the ball nestling in the back of the net, Bruce Grobbelaar started rolling around on the ground, feigning injury, it was only then that the referee changed his decision and disallowed the goal, Walwyn adjudged to have committed a foul. Many fair minded Liverpool fans and neutrals believe the goal should have been allowed whilst the Liverpool players later freely admitted that this was their toughest game on their way to winning the trophy in May. As the second half progressed, City were getting stronger and looked the more likely winner. It was only as City tired in extra time, that Liverpool took control to win 3-1.

Whilst both Liverpool home games and the Arsenal game received prominent coverage on the Saturday TV highlights, it is believed that no cameras were at either of City’s Anfield replays.

Neil Rank recalls, "There was only one person in the ground that night who didn’t think it was a goal, and that was the referee. In the FA Cup Final programme that year Craig Johnston is quoted “I could see nothing wrong with the goal and thought here we go, we are on our way out of the FA Cup”. I have been to three dinners where the Guest Speaker was a Liverpool players, who played in the game (three different players) and all have said they could see nothing wrong with the goal. Us wrinklies will recall that the same referee, reffed our next home game. As he walked out the Main Stand occupants, who were usually quite reserved and quiet chanted “Cheat, Cheat, Cheat”. Liverpool went on to win the double that year. Having said that, having supported City for nearly 60 years, we have come to expect these sort of injustices! A Liverpool supporter, who I know very well was also at the game. He could see nothing wrong with the goal either. Keep the Faith." Equally, Mark Lawrenson has often on TV stated that was the hardest game on the road to Wembley while many City fans still remember Kenny Dalglish with disdain for his actions in running towards City fans and showing them 2 fingers as Liverpool scored their third goal.

Whilst both Liverpool home games and the Arsenal game received prominent coverage on the Saturday TV highlights, it is believed that no cameras were at either of City’s Anfield replays.

Watch City In The FA Cup

Later that year, City’s cup exploits hit a low when losing to Caernarfon Town at Bootham Crescent in a Round 2 cup replay.


Thanks to YorkPress and VitalYork for the following.

Magnificent York City came so close to a first FA Cup quarter-final appearance in more than three decades as they took mighty Liverpool into extra-time before eventually succumbing 3-1 in their Anfield replay.

With former Rowntrees goalkeeper Andy Leaning producing a wonderful starring performance, the visitors pushed their illustrious opponents all the way and but for a bad refereeing decision would surely have been celebrating a truly momentous victory.

The Merseysiders had already enjoyed distinct fortune in the original weekend tie, when awarded a highly dubious penalty within moments of winger Gary Ford earning York a shock 61st minute lead in front of a totally gripped 12,752 Bootham Crescent attendance.

This time, however, it was the overwhelming favourites with an early decisive finish as legendary double-act Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush inspired Scottish international John Wark to register from close in on eighteen minutes.

Danish pass-master Jan Molby soon promised another when his 30-yard thunderbolt was superbly resisted by Leaning, who then frustrated Dalglish before next rescuing on the line as deadly marksman Rush struck at point-blank range. The 22-year-old former British Rail joiner also turned goalscorer Wark's header onto the crossbar. But following the lead of their massively inspirational keeper, York were always fiercely defiant, and two minutes from the break completely stunned Anfield through a shock equaliser - as 4,000 travelling supporters roared their approval.

Midfielder Simon Mills pressed Molby sufficiently to force an uncharacteristic wayward pass, and superbly lofted down the left towards ex-Harrogate Railway Athletic winger Tony Canham, who skipped beyond a couple of markers and struck low towards goal, where keeper Bruce Grobbelaar could only fumble the ball over the line.

Grobbelaar had earlier only just scrambled across to meet defender John MacPhail's firm drive before also being similarly threatened by chief danger-man Keith Walwyn.

Following their heroic opening half efforts, York were suitably afforded a magnificent reception upon their return, with keeper Leaning also receiving a typically generous and warm ovation as he moved towards the world-famous Kop end.

Despite a heavily strapped thigh, experienced midfielder Sean Haslegrave was continuing to prove a constant source of energy and industry for the visitors, while centre-backs MacPhail and David McAughtie formed a resolute barrier of solid resistance, behind which Leaning was truly exceptional.

Midway through the second period came a moment of huge controversy - an incident that still particularly rankles with those York fans in attendance on the night.

With Walwyn typically producing absolute panic when breaking from halfway and muscling off cultured 'sweeper' Alan Hansen, frantic keeper Grobbelaar suddenly crashed into both Gary Gillespie and the aforementioned Hansen, allowing Walwyn to poke his 23rd goal of the season into an empty net. Referee Howard Taylor confirmed the goal, but then inexplicably changed his decision and signalled a foul against the big centre-forward. Meanwhile, reprieved keeper Grobbelaar served out the remainder of the tie with his left arm hanging limply by his side.

At the other end of the stadium, Leaning had twice turned aside from Molby, while also keeping out Rush, Dalglish and Gillespie as the hosts forced a succession of corners in the final half-hour, before finally making their extra quality count when inspired by busy substitute Craig Johnston during the opening period of extra-time.

First Rush accepted a Molby pass and smashed a left-footed shot beyond the valiant Leaning, while Dalglish received Sammy Lee's delivery just three minutes later and despite a suspicion of offside, swept into the far corner - to the undoubted relief of the vast majority of the 29,362 in attendance.

Striker Keith Walwyn remains convinced that a 66th minute 'goal' scored against Liverpool should have been allowed to stand in their FA Cup fifth round replay.

Walwyn had created typical defensive chaos when holding off Scotland defender Alan Hansen and forcing goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar to crash into a couple of team-mates, before allowing himself a simple finish into an empty net. But despite originally signalling a goal, referee Howard Taylor then incredibly changed his mind and instead awarded a free-kick. "Honestly, I thought it was a goal and so am most disappointed," Walwyn later told The Press. "I think it was the turning point in the game. I just had to fight my way through, but the referee insisted I was doing all the pushing. "Yet in my opinion he [Hansen] was trying to stop me getting to the ball," he argued. "I was jostling to get control so we were trying to stop each other in a fair contest. It was the turning-point because I believe we could have held on at 2-1 because Liverpool was struggling."

Coach Viv Busby was in full agreement: "Big Keith toed it into the net and I could not see how it could be a foul. The lads did extremely well, put on a really professional performance and we are very proud of them." That opinion was shared by manager Denis Smith: "I was most unhappy with the decisions of the linesman especially and the referee. I am proud of them [the team], but would have been prouder if we had lasted through extra-time as well."

Winger Tony Canham had earlier cancelled out Scottish international John Wark's eighteenth-minute opener immediately prior to the break. "We are very disappointed," City's goalscorer admitted. "For 90 minutes we were as good as Liverpool and I thought we were looking stronger near the end of normal time. We thought our disallowed goal was okay."

Liverpool: Grobbelaar, Lee, Beglin, Lawrenson, Whelan, Hansen, Dalglish, Wark (Johnston 73), Rush, Molby, Gilllespie

Goals: Wark (18), Rush (94), Dalglish (97)

York City: Leaning, Senior, Hood, McAughtrie, MacPhail, Mills, Ford, Banton, Walwyn, Haslegrave (Houchen 90), Canham

Goals: Canham (43)

Ref: H. Taylor (Oadby)

Att: 29,362