York's Twin Wembley Assault Had A Big Sting In The Tail

At the time, it means the world. To those who walk away defeated, the end of theirs.

The National League's play-offs are weeks away, heaven or hell - there’s no real an in-between.

There’s no doubt York City fans still rank their 2012 Wembley win over Luton Town as one of the greatest days in the club’s recent history.

Few At Bootham Crescent will question that statement.

But what that exciting game taught everyone is that actually what happens in these finals maybe aren’t actually the long-term be all and end all.

Fast forward seven years, and York kick-off their latest National League North season while beaten Luton raise the curtain to the Championship campaign.

So much has changed since that afternoon when they ended their eight year wait for a Football League return. It’s not just a reversal of fortunes for the clubs.

Gary Mills, the Minstermen’s Promotion Final and FA Trophy winning manager, finds himself out of the game.

Fortunes have swung for both clubs since that sunny afternoon. Though that’s why we love football - the game summed up football’s ability to twist, turn, crew and spit out perfectly.

The final in front of touching 40,000 looked to be heading only one way. Andre Gray fired in Robbie Willmott's teasing cross to put the Hatters ahead and it was the least they deserved.

Finally, after two years of play-off misery, it appeared to be going their way but York rallied.

Ashley Chambers shot past Mark Tyler for a deserved equaliser as they turned the screw after a number of near misses.

Then Matty Blair fired in from close range, with a hint of offside about it, and it secured a famous win.

FA Trophy already in the bag, their twin Wembley assault painted a picture of a club heading only in one direction.

Though often when you think you are on top, sometimes you aren’t. York, who ended this season at the summit of the National League North but didn’t win the title, know that more than anyone.

A double relegation in 2016 and then 2017 left City in uncharted waters.

They will always have May 20 2012, the double done and the same man was the hero on both occasions.

Every good side needs its characters. Promotion Final match winner Matty is just that - known for terrorising and being terrorised by his team-mates, he had to sit out some games later that year after being ‘tackled’ by a training ground mannequin.

He said after: "I scored the goal and it feels unbelievable but I'm not taking anything away from the other lads.

“The back five, and Daniel Parslow in front, defended like heroes and were brilliant all game.

"We were under the cosh a bit last half an hour and they just stood tall and went 'right you're not getting past us'. Luton were always going to put us under pressure after we scored but we stood tall."

Manager Mills reflected: “You always hope as a manager that you can go in and turn a club around.

“I wanted to be the man to achieve what the chairman and everybody else wanted for the club which was getting back into the Football League.

“A couple had come close in the past but I did it and I’m proud of that.

“I loved every second of it. It’s been a dream and what we have achieved has been fantastic, but I’ve also met some lovely people and made some good friends in a great city.”

Of course, Steve Watson is now the one charged with getting York’s latest renaissance off the ground.

The play-offs it must be, and with the doors to the club’s fantastic new stadium almost open there are some critical weeks ahead.

The highest placed side in the final league standings after points-per-game will host each match.

That could be crucial for York, regardless of the fact no fans will be there to cheer them on.

But even if they don’t get their own way, they have proved more than anyone that the play-offs aren’t always the long-term barometer that many suggest they are.

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