Jon McCarthy

Possibly the most exciting winger that many of us have seen play for City

York City

Jon McCarthy is well remembered by many City fans for his electrifying wing play over 5 seasons as City's free flowing football won many plaudits.

His route into professional football was slightly unusual in that he was studying full time. After a spell with Hartlepool (John Bird was their manager) where he played the last few minutes of the 1987/8 season as a 17year old, he was studying full time in Nottingham and playing local amateur football for moneybags Shepshed Charterhouse in the Northern Premier League.

Invited to Bootham Crescent, he made his City debut on 29th September 1990. It wasn’t until February 1991 that he became a first team regular and a month later that he signed his first full time contract, 12 months after he first joined City. On Hospital Ball, McCarthy said he signed his first pro contract for £180 per week and doubled it when he signed his next (probably in 1993) and he didn't sign a further City contract. By 1995 when he left, City's top earner was proabably on about £800 per week.

Those early days would often see him playing a midweek evening match and travelling back to Nottingham for an early morning lecture. In the summer of 1991, McCarthy won a bronze medal as part of the Great Britain football team at the XVI Summer Universiade (World Student Games) Sheffield.

The following season he was an ever present scoring 9 goals. His efforts being rewarded with the 1992 Clubman Of The Year award.

We all know what happened in the 1992/3 season. McCarthy was again an ever present, scoring 7 goals. More importantly, the wing play of Tony Canham and him was the ammunition that Paul Barnes needed. The season ended in a glorious play off final win at Wembley. McCarthy was almost unplayable. I recall he could have scored a hat trick with just a bit more luck. The “big” pitch and sapping turf saw him glide past defender after defender.

It is understood that City rejected a £150,000 bid for him from Bradford City and in the summer of 1993 there was speculation linking him with QPR when they signed Trevor Sinclair.

Remarkably, the 1993/4 season saw him be an ever present for a 3rd consecutive season 9 goals to his name as City again reached the play offs.

He missed just 2 games in the 1994/5 season when he scored a career best 10 goals and was once again voted City's Clubman Of The Year.

After City

It came as something of a surprise when he moved up a division to Port Vale in August 1995 for a £450,000 fee. It was a club reord sale for City at the time. He didn’t forget his roots as he was at Old Trafford just a few weeks later to witness City's 3-0 League Cup win over Manchester United. In his first season, he was voted Vale’s Player Of The Season. After 2 successful seasons with Vale, he moved to Birmingham for £1,500,000 in September 1997 netting City a £220,000 sell on fee.

During his 5 seasons with Brum, he twice helped them to reach the play offs, both times they missed out on a Premier League spot and in 2001 he played in the League Cup Final against Liverpool.

His later career was blighted by injury, he broke a leg on 3 occasions. That didn’t stop him from winning (through parentage) 18 Northern Ireland full caps.

Come the start of the 2002/3 season, he was deemed surplus to requirements. Short spells with Port Vale, Doncaster and City followed. He made one appearance for City (9/11/2002 v Leyton Orient) but given the turmoil of the Batchelor era he quickly moved onto Carlisle where he played out the last 6 months of his FL career. His playing career ended with spells at non league clubs Hucknall and Northwich Victoria.

Subsequently, he has enjoyed a long coaching career (at times combining it with a teaching job), including spells at Port Vale and Conference sides Southport and Chester included, where he often came up against City and would often gave some insightful interviews to Radio York.

He joined Cymru Premier champions Connah's Quay Nomads as assistant manager in October 2021.


Jon McCarthy was a winger that drove at you with raw pace, a player with good crossing ability and an eye for goal. He was always a joy to watch.

In the 1990s, City successfully stopped Stockport’s lanky striker Kevin Francis when he played for Stockport by cutting out the supply to him. The same strategy failed when McCarthy was supplying the ammunition to him for Birmingham.

Some suggest he could have scored a hat trick for City at Wembley in 1993.

In December 2020, City fans voted him the Best Bootham Crescent - 1932 – 2020 side whilst in May 2019, he was voted into the "Ultimate Port Vale XI" by members of the OneValeFan supporter website.

In his career, he made 679 club appearances, scoring 71 goals.

Jon McCarthy on York Hospital Ball