John Askey

John Askey - Mr High Intensity


John Askey and York City kindly invited York City South members to meet the manager on the eve of the Dagenham FA Trophy game played on March 12th 2022.

After braving heavy M25 rush hour traffic, we spent over an hour in the company of John Askey, Kingsley James and kit man Tony Brown.

York City South would like to thank Dan and Lisa at the club for making the arrangements and for John, Kingsley and Tony for giving up well over an hour of their time to talk to us.


Askey had been invited to York City to assist Steve Watson. He watched the game at Leamington in November 2021 and was involved for the next game, a draw at Curzon.

After that game, he had a drink with Steve Watson and there was no hint of was about to happen. Later that night, Jason McGill phoned to tell him that Steve Watson had left the club and offered him the position of interim manager. After speaking with Steve Watson, he accepted the position.

High Intensity

On his arrival, Askey felt there was an air of lethargy around the club, players were in their comfort zone and there was a lack of intensity about training and matches. Kingsley James noted how in their early days at the club, the squad struggled to complete some of the high intensity drills that were put on. The words "high intensity" were oft repeated during this discussion.

The mantra being that to train at a high intensity would improve a players' first touch and then to play at a high intensity which in turn would put the opposition under more pressure.

The importance of work rate and denying the opposition time on the ball being keys to success.

Askey noted how when watching football, top teams showed the same the high intensity in the last minute of a game as they did in the first minute.

With the Dagenham cup tie in mind, he said that at training sessions, the players regularly practice penalties. Askey would tell his players to decide where they would put the ball in a match situation, and to take the same penalty 3 times in a row, making each player sure of their touch, especially as the keeper knew where the ball was going.

Askey felt a settled, well drilled team was important and felt players could manage 2 games week but 3 games a week would be too much. He noted that he felt the high intensity shown at AFC Fylde was offset by a more low key, tired performance 4 days later at Hereford as travelling does take a lot out of the players.


When John Askey arrived, City did not have any effective scouting set up. He signed City up to Wyscout, the popular scouting software used by the many professional clubs. It has proved invaluable, allowing City to watch any game played in England, to view players and scout upcoming opposition teams and players. Equally, it allows City to analyse their own performances.

It is a time saver for Askey who is regularly contacted about 2 or 3 available players every day. In the case of Maxim Kouogun, an initial approach from agent lead to a check on Wyscout and then with Harrogate contacts (one of Kouogun's recent clubs), the signs were promising so a week long trial was arranged.

For the Darlington game (3 days before our meeting), Wsyscout had identified a weakness in Darlington's centre backs. City successfully exploited that weakness and a City contact was able to confirm exactly City's findings after the game.

As City want to maximise their usage of Wyscout, the club may be on the look out for a performance analyst to help, indeed Askey noted how an intern had joined the party for the Dagenham trip to provide extra analysis support. (I seem to recall that in October 2016 when Gary Mills returned, one of the first things he did was to release City's performance analyst on the basis of wanting to maximise his playing budget, indeed, his belief was to worry about ourselves and not the opposition, a true Brian Clough disciple - Ed).

Squad Players

Whilst acknowledging the lack of game time for squad players, he tries to find appropriate loan moves for them but doesn't believe there is a feasible league of sufficient quality for a City reserve side.

In the case of Sam Fielding and Harrison Hopper, he was quite blunt and he felt that they weren't the sort players he needed at City at the time and that they could do better elsewhere. (... no doubt freeing up budget for the new players he wanted - Ed).


City's recently announced extended youth programme is expected to be education focused, an extension on the existing scholarship programme. It was noted how other clubs around City's level run such schemes with Macclesfield annually generating over a million pounds for the club with some of their scholars travelling from abroad.

Given football's EPPP setup, any promising youngster is signed up by a big club and Football League status is needed to drive a successful academy.

Askey noted how lower league side such as Rochdale and Accrington had flourished in recent seasons due to their successful youth policies.

Kingsley James

Kingsley James told us how he'd nearly signed from City on 3 occasions including during the Gary Mills' eras and one potential loan move fell through.

James noted how he'd got married on the day before his appearance in the 2016 FA Trophy Final, the game ended in victory for his FC Halifax side but their season ended in relegation from the National League. Given relegation, celebrations after Wembley were muted. The same fate befell City a season later when James was a member of Macclesfield's side that lost to City in the FA Trophy Final, on the day of his first wedding anniversary (he'd got married on the day before the 2016 final).

Tony Brown

Tony Brown revealed City had brought 2 sets of kits for the Dagenham game, it appears the traditional method of checking with the opposition and referee before a game to avoid a colour clash isn't so prevalent nowadays, or at least not in FA organised competitions.

A big Macclesfield fan, he'd had a long association with the club but felt the club struggled badly with the off field transition from non league to the Football League and for a time fell out of love with football.

In February 2004, Askey rang Tony and invited him for an evening fish and chip supper in York. After taking in City play Lincoln, their take away was Jon Parkin.

John Askey's Early Days

As a boy, John Askey would watch a game most weekend with his Dad, mainly Stoke and Port Vale, a Stoke fan his favourite player was Denis Smith.

His Dad, Colin was a professional footballer who played for many years with Port Vale and starred as a right winger in their 1954 side that reached the FA Cup Semi Final and won the Division 3 North title. Books and other sources suggest he might have been a winger in the Gary Ford mould.

Apparently, like City a year later, Vale went out to a dubious refereeing decision. Again, like City's 1955 Happy Wanderers, the Valiants were local celebrities and Colin Askey is the last surviving member of that side.

Along The Way

  • Askey felt he had the right dynamic with Kingsley James, someone who is much closer to the players' ages and has Yorkshire roots
  • City had travelled down and had a training session at Barnet's ground earlier in the day. Askey noted that Football League clubs were becoming increasingly reluctant to offer their facilities to travelling teams, mainly down to wanting to protect their pitches. Meanwhile, City had enjoyed a recent training session at Lilleshall
  • Askey's favourite ground is Villa Park, it still has the feel of an old, traditional stadium
  • Confirmed City's latest loan signing (Lennell John-Lewis) who will be available for the next league game and indicated he'd like to add another 2 or 3 players, the right players, to the squad before transfer deadline day
  • Askey has a love of football history, he took more interest and showed more knowledge about City's past than any other manager YCS has spoken to over the past 15 years
  • Askey named Paul Johnson, City's short lived late 80s left back as his best mate in football whilst James bestowed the same accolade on John McCombe
  • Askey reported that the camera equipment that YCS bought for the club in May 2019 is still in use, largely by the youth team as was originally intended
  • Askey has a desire to help to bring all elements of the club together and improve fan engagement although at times he gave the impression that it was his way or no way
  • As the evening ended, the players came into the dining room for their evening meal. Mitch Hancox took centre stage to perform his initiation, giving a word perfect rendition of Queen's "We Will Rock You", proving he's a good a singer as he is a footballer.

Whilst, once again with John Askey's arrival, City didn't see the much wanted immediate new manager bounce, rather than that ephemeral lift, his methods are working, the smile is back on the supporters' faces (and the players judging by the post Dagenham celebrations and smiles). We're playing like a proper team and showing much improved form. Long may it continue.


  • May 2022: NLN promotion. After 14 previous managers, our first manager to win promotion in his first season since Alan Little in 1993. Long may it continue.
  • 2022/3: Postive start back in the NL. Long may it continue.


The Facts

Immediately on Glen Henderson's arrival, John Askey showed some indifference to the new regime when he told YorkPress, "It's not something I'm really pleased about because I had a good relationship with the previous owner". Read the full interview. Later reports suggested that Henderson was a much more hands on chairman than Jason McGill.

On November 16th 2022, City sacked John Askey. Quite a turnaround from August when Askey revealed that he had turned down interest from Rochdale and then, 2 weeks later he accepted a one year contract extension. Later, City flirted with the play off places before his reign ended with just 3 draws from his last 6 league games and 12th in National League, up from 15th in National League North when he arrived a year earlier.

Askey's sacking was a decision that was met with universal disapproval from all City supporters.

Glen Henderson appeared on Radio York on November 1st and he indicated that his relationship with John Askey wasn't all that it could be. Before and after, Askey had bemoaned a lack of striking options and the club responded by a lack of funds.

At the time of his sacking, City were in a run of poor form. Despite that, Askey still had the backing of the vast majority of supporters and his sacking unified the whole fanbase behind him being and was met by disbelief by supporters and many players.

His reign will be remembered with fondness. He got City promoted, something which the 7 previous managers had been unable to do, got City into the FA Trophy semi final and generally gave City an identity which resonated with supporters and had been lacking for about 10 years.

In practice, the public start of the end seemed to be signalled by Glen Henderson's radio interview. Later that week, City went to Shrewsbury and fielded only 4 out of a possible 9 substitutes, in his post match interview, Askey said the youngsters were not registered to play, possibly City preferred not to pay the FA registration fees.

That evening, YCST Chairman, Mike Brown posted, "Ok, so I'll try and do a catch all reply to pick up as many points as possible. I totally understand the overwhelming support for John and until a couple of weeks ago I felt exactly the same. Both myself and Alastair were vehemently defending John and insisting that he had to stay. Of course no manager can expect to stay in their job forever if the results aren't going well, but we knew we were miles away from that. The situation changed after Glen's radio interview. Whilst it was clearly a train crash in itself, it also brought stuff from the past few months to the surface. John spoke at some length with myself and Alastair to express how unhappy he was. Any employer has a duty to try and resolve such issues and find resolutions. I offered to do whatever I could to make things work out. Unfortunately John said he felt it was too late and it wouldn't be possible to iron things out. It was 100% clear he wanted to leave, but would have no income if he did. I virtually begged with him to work with us to sort it out. When any discussion with an employee reaches that stage, it becomes untenable for either side and risks descending into an increasingly confrontational situation. We spoke with HR specialist who agreed that it seemed matters had reached an impasse. Of course much of this difficult situation we found ourselves in came from a clash of personalities between John and Glen. Having listened to both of them I can honestly say that many of their differences were quite minor and would ordinarily have been easily sorted. It was an accumulation of things and a lack of dialogue that brewed over time. Alastair and I do feel some responsibility for not having seen the signs earlier and got them taking more positively. In our defence we've had a mass of work to do in other departments and perhaps took our eye off the ball. At the end of the day, if John hadn't said the situation was irretrievable then he'd still be manager and I'd be banging heads together to make it work. Throughout all of this horrible episode we have tried to do what's best for the club and the fans. What's needed and what's wanted aren't always the same thing. I 'wanted' John to stay, but knew he 'needed' to leave. I can't really blame anyone. Sometimes people clash and you need to try to mediate the situation. If I'd have stepped back from being involved in the decision the outcome may well have been worse for John and the club. It was a simple case of crisis mitigation. I'm sorry if people feel I could have done better but I honestly tried my level best. As many know I will be stepping down from both my roles in 6 months to focus on my own work and family after an exhausting 5 years coupled with ill health. I hope that those fans that know me, know that I'll always do the very best I can by my club". From a previous Radio York appearance, he said "it will be best for the club in the long term ". Let's not forget that quote.

Whilst the actions of YCST maybe be questioned, at the end of the day they are a minority shareholder, ultimately, without power.

City Statements

On the day of his sacking, City issued 2 statements which are reproduced in full below

John Askey - sacked

Following a number of discussions between the board and John Askey in recent weeks, York City Football Club has today decided to part company by ending his contract of employment. Given John's popularity and his incredible success last season, we understand that many fans may be upset and confused by this decision. However, after taking numerous factors into consideration the board are confident that it is in the best interests of the football club. Recruitment of a new manager will commence immediately, and we aim to make an appointment by the end of the month. An interim manager will be appointed from within the club's existing staff, with a further announcement due shortly. We are eternally grateful to John for his efforts to help us gain promotion last season and wish him the very best of luck in his future career.

John Askey - some further clarification

As mentioned in our earlier statement, the club board recognises that some fans will not support or fully understand the termination of John Askey's contract. As such, the board wishes to clarify some of the reasons why we reached this difficult decision. On 3rd November, John reached out to directors Alastair Smith and Mike Brown to express his unhappiness in his role at the football club. He went on to explain that he didn't wish to remain at the club but was not in a position to resign due to his personal circumstances. Both directors expressed their desire to retain John as manager, find solutions to improve lines of communication and working practices within the club. John indicated that he felt there were no possible solutions or remedies. Prior to these discussions, the board had invited John to a meeting (Askey stated that he had asked for the meeting) to discuss budgets and the club's wider finances, but unfortunately John cancelled the meeting at short notice. We felt that this had been a prime opportunity to improve understanding and build a better working relationship with John with the ultimate aim of improving performance. Given John's desire to leave the club and his belief that the situation was irretrievable, after seeking legal advice, the board unanimously agreed that it was in everyone's best interest to part company with John. We believe that presented with such circumstances any business would have reached a similar conclusion. The board recognise the huge support and love for John amongst supporters following his success last season. We share those emotions which meant that we could not take this decision lightly and made every effort to avoid having to make it. Sometimes things happen behind the scenes of many football clubs that require the board to make difficult decisions. We hope that this goes some way to help supporters understand our decision and that everyone gets behind the squad this Saturday.

3 days later, YCST issued their own statement.

John Askey Speaks

On the day of his sacking, John Askey spoke to Radio York and indicated:

  • Askey felt undermined, he believed Glen Henderson went to the players after the second pre-season game and asked if they were happy and was hearing second hand stories about his dealings with the players. He said, "he felt undermined, he (Henderson) asked the players we they happy with the way, the style we play after the second pre-season game and that he (Henderson) didn’t think we were playing good football when we won promotion"
  • Called in early, apparently Askey had to wait for Alastair Smith, delayed in traffic, to arrive to serve the letter, before the agreed meeting time. Askey noted, "To have to stand in front of a printer and wait for a letter to be printed off and then be given it to see that I had been sacked ... that hurt me more than anything. I'm disappointed with how it's been done. They talked about me coming in to talk to them and said it was about my contract. I said if it was about my contract I would need legal help and they said just to come in and pick the letter up. I think I deserve better than that. I think anybody does." Read More
  • Askey originally welcomed Ethan Henderson, but the players' weren't happy, so Askey asked Glen Henderson that Ethan didn't come back
  • "Jason was like a proper chairman, I was enjoying it, things were workiong well, then (under Glen Henderson), I wasn't enjoying it"
  • Re Askey's statement that he "was not in a position to resign due to his personal circumstances", if he'd stayed, he could have picked up wages for another 18 months, if he was sacked, he would be entitled to notice pay (assuming he wasn't sacked for gross misconduct or similar (and there is no suggestion of that)), if he resigned, he would be entitled to nothing.


  • Undoubtedly, John Askey's sacking will cost City in terms of a notice pay package and it is to be hoped that the players get behind the new manager.
  • Whilst every employee should expect some level of governance and to work within the parameters his boss sets, it would appear that Jason McGill was far more hands off than Glen Henderson
  • Whilst Dave Penney's role was often queried, as a director with a lifetime in the professional game, there was someone on the inside and maybe even a buffer between McGill and Askey to ensure things were one properly. That buffer did not exist under Henderson. All clubs expect their manager to operate within certain parameters and some of Mike Brown's Facebook postings might imply that they weren't.
  • On big difference between 2002 and 2022 is the role of the Trust. Back them, they owned 100% of the club and could, in the nicest possible sense, do what ever they wanted. In 2022, they are a minority shareholder and must work differently maintaining a strict divide between club and trust business. Mike Brown and Alastair Brown are in a difficult position, effectively serving 2 masters.
  • Whatever else, there will always be a long list of applicants for the next manager's job
  • When John Askey first arrived, to assist Steve Watson, he sought out Guy Mowbray for a chat and a coffee to find out about City. Three hours later, they adjourned, Askey's thirst for knowledge wasn't quenched, it took another meeting after he was appointed interim manager to finish the conversation, that tells me something about his desire to do a good job
  • City supporters will be ever grateful to John Askey for his one year at the club. He gave us a team fit to wear the shirt, a team to be proud of that won us promotion out of regional football and his reign (allied to a change of ownership) saw club record season ticket sales in summer 2022
  • The club statement read "Sometimes things happen behind the scenes", let's hope that's because of reasonable confidentiality issues rather than a desire to withhold or drip feed information to suit agendas, if not, so much for the openness we hope the new era would herald
  • As ever in such situations, each side may have slightly different versions of what happened and it can be easy to fall into "he (Henderson), he (Askey) and they (YCST) said this or that". No doubt, more details will emerge over time.

    What might be gleamed from some of Mike Brown's social media postings immediately after John Askey's sacking include:

    • When Mike Brown speaks of "the perceived 'interference' was actually normal club policy", a manager has a duty to his chairman and board to keep them properly informed. Tim Ryan said he was speaking to Henderson straight after the Wealdstone game and clubs (board and manager) generally sit down on a regular basis to discuss team and player performance and what is needed going forward, something that Mike Brown implied when he said, "one of the biggest issues was around contracts, loans and discussions with agents"
    • Some things that require board approval such as buying, selling and loaning players, the board shouldn't find out about players going out on loan from the media
    • John seemed to think that asking about progress on these things was 'interfering', Deals were being done without being sanctioned by the board or even with our knowledge
    • If any employee says they wish to leave, aren't willing to engage and don't follow company procedures and policies, what choice is there?
    • John spoke at some length with myself and Alastair (Smith) to express how unhappy he was. Any employer has a duty to try and resolve such issues and find resolutions. I offered to do whatever I could to make things work out. Unfortunately John said he felt it was too late and it wouldn't be possible to iron things out. It was 100% clear he wanted to leave, but would have no income if he did
    • I 'wanted' John to stay, but knew he 'needed' to leave
    • We spoke with HR specialist who agreed that it seemed matters had reached an impasse.

John Askey returns (YP 20/11/23).