Tommy Forgan

York City's Number One Number One

Tommy Forgan joined City in the summer of 1954 for £500 from Hull and was to be a regular for 10 seasons before leaving City in 1966. At Hull, he'd been understudy to Billy Bly, a local hero, playing just 10 league games in 5 seasons and earning the nickname of "Fumbling Forgan". With City looking for a new keeper, City initially targetted Hull's David Teece before signing Forgan.

On joining he wasn't sure he'd be first choice with locally born Mick Granger also on City's books. Grangerís class was confirmed when he was elected as the armed forces player of the year in 1957 when serving in Hong Kong. Many City supporters of the era would justifiably agree that Forgan and Granger were the best pair of keepers to serve together for City. However, Forgan soon established himself as first choice.

Forgan proved a more than able keeper as City shocked the footballing world by reaching the FA Cup semi-final. In Round 3 at Blackpool, as the Stanley Matthews inspired home side pressed strongly in the last 10 minutes, Forgan flung himself high to his left to punch away Jim Kellyís penalty kick to preserve Cityís 2 goal lead. Later, he was Cityís regular keeper in both of our first 2 promotions years (1958 and 1965).

For York City, he made 428 appearances and kept a club record 120 clean sheets for City. The stats donít say he was Cityís custodian during our run to the 1954/5 FA Cup semi final and first 2 promotion campaigns in 1959 and 1965. Only 5 players have made more appearances for City. Invariably he showed a professional attitude and always seemed to have a smile on his face. He is fondly remembered for his assuredness, allied with great athleticism. His 388 league games are a record for a City keeper, a record unlikely ever to be beaten. He won representative honours in April 1957 when selected to play for Division 3 North against Division 3 South.

In 1974, Forgan emigrated to Perth in Australia where he worked as a bricklayer until his retirement, a trade he'd used to supplement his wages during his playing days.

In his latter years, he took an active interest in the progress of Cityís keeper Michael Ingham as he closed in on Forganís club record of 120 clean sheets.

The bond between present and past was strengthened in June 2013 when Forganís 23-year-old grand daughter Madelane Davey met Ingham on a trip back to North Yorkshire, where he gave her a guided tour of Bootham Crescent and presented her with a signed shirt that he was gifting to Tommy. Ingham started the 2013/14 campaign just short of Tommy's shut out record and in the spirit of good-natured competition said, "To Tommy, I'm coming for you, but you'll always be number one. He did it all when the club were in the Football League and also played on bad pitches with no gloves but I cannot affect that. I can only do my best in the era I have played in and what I like about mine is the ratio of clean sheets. If I can keep that under one in three then that can only benefit the club. I think Tommy will always be the number one though. ďIím just hoping I will be remembered as a good 24.Ē Ingham ended his City career with 116 clean sheets.

Knowing the gentleman her grandfather was, Davey said: "Iím surprised nobody has beaten his record but Iím sure he would love it if Michael broke it next season. He lives in Perth with his wife Betty and still loves his football. Heís a lovely guy and the biggest gentleman you could ever meet Ė truly polite. Iím surprised nobody has beaten his record but Iím sure he would love it if Michael broke it next seasonĒ.

Speaking to The York Press in 2015, Tommy said: "We were all proud of what we achieved in the Cup run. It would have been a lifetime ambition to play at Wembley in a Cup final but itís nice to look back on the good things we achieved and not what could have been. During that run, we played against some great international players like Alf Ramsey, Jackie Milburn and Danny Blanchflower and, after the matches, every one of them congratulated the boys for the football they played. I got the most pleasure from playing against Stan Matthews. As a teenager, I supported Middlesbrough so, when Blackpool and the Boro played each other, it was always billed as left-back (George) Hardwick v right-winger Matthews because they were both England players. "It never happened because every year one was injured. But, in 1955, instead of watching him, I was playing against him. What a thrill".

Following a long illness, Tommy Forgan died on the evening of Sunday, December 15, 2019 in Perth, Australia, surrounded by his family, wife Betty, daughters Stephanie and Barbara, and grandchildren.

"He was greatly loved, a true gentleman and legend," Stephanie said. "He touched the hearts of all those who met him. His greatest pride was his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. His parting words were 'take each day as it comes'."

He was the last surviving member of Cityís 1954/5 FA Cup semi-final side.

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