City History

Naughty Boys

For all the highlights in City's illustrious history, we've had our fair share of lowlights, both on and off the pitch. Below is our list of candidates for York City's naughty step, reserved for those naughty boys who have discredited City. The steps are largely filled by off the pitch miscreants, the bad players went straight into York City's all time worst team.

  1. DOUGLAS CRAIG (and BARRY SWALLOW) As chairman, Douglas Craig’s reign started well with our first Wembley triumph in 1993, followed by 2 good seasons in the 3rd flight and a League Cup win over Manchester United in 1995. Within a month of the United win, Craig was involved in an altercation with the team after a 6-1 defeat at Peterborough. The season petered out, survival was only confirmed 5 days after the official end of the season on a Thursday morning in Brighton. A successful youth policy provided players for the first team whilst the sale of starlets such as Jon Greening, Richard Cresswell and Graeme Murty would eventually net the club nearly £3m. Cries of “where’s the money gone” were answered by paying over £700,000 on the likes (oops, nearly called them players) players such as Colin Alcide, Barry Conlon, Gordon Connelly, Rob Matthews, Adrian Randall. David Rush, John Sharples and Mark Tinkler. A rot set in, along with the inflated fees paid, City’s wage bill spiralled out of control. The wage bill was £1.6m in 1999/2000 (the first one back in Division 4) and was twice as big as that of 5 seasons previous and rose to £2.16m in 2000/1. This at a time when total income was around £1.4m and total expenditure was £2.7m. Those 2 seasons saw City’s wages to turnover amongst the worst ever known in English football. With a changing transfer market and City’s youth production line drying up, there were no big sales to cover the losses. In 1999, in an attempt to safeguard City’s future in the case of liquidation, the directors decided to split the football club from its main asset the ground. Bootham Crescent Holdings was formed. In December 2001, at the AGM, Craig announced the directors would resign at the end of the season and invited offers to take over the football club. Historically City’s share’s had been traded at their £1 face value, most being passed from director to director, some being held by fans. The vast majority of the shares were held by a small number of people, mainly the directors, a small number were held by a few fans (some had been passed down through several generations and others bought in 1979 or 1983 when the share capital was expanded). The directors were seen as the moral guardians of the club, looking after it and passing control onto the next generation. Craig said, “since when did the moral guardians of the club have to sit and take abuse, vilification and vandalism and continue to hold the role”. Craig and his fellow directors walked away with the ground (worth several million pounds) and left a near worthless football club behind, doing a deal to sell their football club shares to John Batchelor. Craig had been a City supporter for many years before joining the board in 1978 and becoming chairman in 1990. His political views were well known and even some people who disliked him and his forthright opinions respected him for his fairness. In the early years of his reign as chairman, City enjoyed steady progress, with promotion via Wembley, a second successive play off season, 3-0 Old Trafford win and strong youth team seemingly putting City on a strong upwards curve. A (dis) honourable mention for Barry Swallow who is fighting Craig for the top spot. Voted our player of the millennium in 2000, as a director, he profited from Douglas Craig’s actions and netted a tidy sum from the sale of his shares, ignoring pleas from supporters to donate the sale proceeds back to the club. PS Craig is possibly high up on AFC Wimbledon's naughty steps for his role on an FA panel which overturned a Football League ruling which paved the way for Wimbledon moving to Milton Keynes in 2003.
  2. JACK FOUNTAIN John (commonly known as Jack) Fountain received a 15 month prison sentence in 1965 for his part in a nationwide bribery / betting scandal, first exposed by The Sunday People, that shook the nation. A former City captain, It was alleged that he was involved in fixing 2 City matches, a 2-1 home defeat by Tranmere in October 1961 and a 3-2 away defeat at Oldham in December 1961. He continued to play for City until his contract was terminated in late 1963. He stood trial alongside 9 other players and ex players. The recently retired Jimmy Gauld received a 4 year prison sentence as ringleader, whilst all the other guilty players, including 2 ex England internationals each received 15 months or less in prison. They were all banned from football for life. In total, over 30 players were prosecuted. Wilf Meek, the Yorkshire Evening Press’ City correspondent at the time described it as “the most unfortunate and sickening week in City’s history”.
  3. JOHN BATCHELOR Thought of our saviour when he bought the club from Douglas Craig. Opinion started to change when schemes linking City with his motor racing team and branding us as York City Soccer Club to generate interest in USA surfaced. In October 2002, he launched half price season tickets for the following season and denied claims that City were in financial trouble. A month later, City entered a creditors’ voluntary agreement leading to the rise of the York City Supporters’ Trust and their eventual takeover of the club. The truth behind the Batchelor reign made grim reading. He diverted club sponsorship money into his racing team, season ticket money had been mis-spent and he walking away with at £120,000 profit (some reports stated it was £300,000). He died in 2010 of liver failure, probably caused by alcoholism.
  4. COMING SOON A drug barron
  5. TOMMY HENDERSON A fair haired right winger we picked up on a free from Bradford Park Avenue when they lost their Football League status in 1970, he lit up the following 2 seasons. With a diminutive stature and big bushy side burns, his powerful runs down the ring and stunning shots were crowd pleasers as we won promotion in his first season and fought off relegation a season later. At the end of the 1971/2 season, he was sacked after stealing a wage packet, believed to contain £27, from inside the club.
  6. COMING SOON A fraudster
  7. MOSES ASHIKODI A perpetual offender who did little wrong (apart from not scoring enough and if that’s a crime, this page would be very long) in his 6 months with us. He joined us, initially on loan in November 2011 and was released after not featuring in either of our 2012 Wembley double winning triumphs and scoring just once in 11 appearances. A speedy striker, with us, like with many of his clubs, he failed to deliver after showing initial promise. However, by all accounts, he toed the line whilst with us, something that’s not true of some of his other clubs. Starting his career at Millwall, at 16, he left the club by mutual consent in 2004 after a training ground incident that reportedly saw him threaten fellow striker Mark McCammon with a plastic knife. In 2016, he played for at least 6 clubs in the lower echelons of the pyramid. They included one game at Croydon where he walked out of the club after being subbed on his debut in March and ending the year at Chatham Town where in his second appearance, he stormed off the pitch, just 7 minutes after coming on as a sub, after a flare up with a teammate, leaving Croydon with 10 man (having used all the substitutes. He was sacked after the game. At last count, still short of his 30th birthday, he’d had 28 clubs, ranging from Rangers and West Ham all the way down to the lower tiers of the pyramid in a career characterised by impressive trials, contracts cut short and petulance when not in the starting side.
  8. MARK MALEY Not sure if he qualifies or not, but he’s on the lower steps anyway.. A Sunderland loanee, he was an irregular left back for us throughout most of the 2001/2 season before a season ending thigh injury saw him return to Sunderland in March 2002. The following month, when messing around in his flat with an airgun and teammate John Oster, he was accidentally shot in the eye, an injury which ended his football career.
  9. NIGEL PEPPER Our former midfield hard man, so hard, he received 3 red cards in four games against Darlington in the 1990/1 season. In over 5 years with City, he was integral to our successes, including our 1993 Wembley play off win and later League Cup success over Manchester United. As well as his tackling ability, he was a regular scorer from midfield. After playing for Bradford City and Aberdeen, his career came to an end with Scunthorpe. On only his second appearance for them, early in the2000/1 season, he was sent off for a bad tackle, receiving his red card as on a stretcher as he left the field with a badly broken leg. He made just one more league appearance before being released at the end of the following season and drifting out of league football.
  10. BARRY JACKSON A club legend, he played 539 competitive games for us between 1958 and 1970. The PFA named him City’s greatest ever player. Having received suspended ban (2 weeks and £15) for being sent off in pre season game at Scarborough in 1969, the first time a suspended ban had been invoked. His final season ended in ignominy when he was sent off playing at Scunthorpe in January 1970, the incident being made worse when he kicked over a trainer’s bucket as he left the pitch. The FA clamped down hard, invoking his previous suspended ban, banned him for 8 weeks and fined him £25, the longest ban ever given by The FA for a sending off offence. Given City’s postponements that season, the ban covered 15 league games (February 16 to April 11) plus his own testimonial against Hull in February.
  11. THE SUBWAY INCIDENT 4 City players, Strikers Michael Rankine and Michael Gash, winger Craig Nelthorpe and goalkeeper Michael Ingham were arrested in the early hours of a Sunday morning in August 2009 after an altercation outside the Subway sandwich shop in Clifford Street, York. A day early, all 4 had featured in City’s away friendly 3-1 defeat at FC Halifax where Nelthorpe had been sent off. The 4 who’d earlier been in The Gallery nightclub were understood to have been in an argument with two adult males which ended in violence. They were held in custody for a few hours before being sent to trial in September 2010. In the words of the police, it “escalated into violence” and the two males were subjected to a “serious assault” with one ending up in York Hospital with facial injuries. Whilst on BBC’s 606 website, “GerraldAggro“, in his own words and with his own spelling, wrote “they attacke my mate on the night he's got a fractured cheek bone, broken nose and chipped tooth, coloured lad was in subway and wouldn't allow my mate out the door as he was very drunk, my finally got through after a while and 3 mates started walking past gallery to taxi rank near fire station the they ran and jumped him from behind. Also one of my mates who was there that night it happened was an ex city palyer released a few years back made a few 1st appereances and was talking to ingham on the night yet the other three attacks his best mate. its a disgrace!!!!! should be locked up!!! Lad taking them to court anyway!!!!!” It was to be over a year before the trial concluded by which time Nelthorpe and Gash had left City. Gash pleaded guilty to affray along with Nelthorpe, while Rankine also admitted guilt, but to a lesser charge. The court also accepted a not guilty plea from Nelthorpe to a count of assault causing actual bodily harm and the players. Ingham’s not guilty plea was accepted and he faced no further action after prosecution described his involvement as "minimal."
  12. COMING SOON Too big for his gloves?
  13. JOHN MacCPHAIL Newly signed from Sheffield United in February 1982, shortly afterwards, he was fined for travelling from his Sheffield home to York on a train ticket bought with a young persons (under 24) rail card when aged 28. It didn’t stop MacPhail from being voted City’s player of the year in 1984, our Division 4 championship winning season and again a year later. At the time the incident was laughed off as a “jack the lad” antic perpetrated against a big company.
  14. JACKIE McNAMARA Contrast John MacPhail’s treatment with Jackie McNamara, found guilty in court despite having a train ticket (albeit for a different train and offering to pay for a new ticket).
  15. ANOTHER KEEPER Fittingly bottom of the list

Email your candidates to the address below.

Home City History Email Us