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  • Writer's pictureMatt Woodcock

#23 YCFC.

A close friend of mine is now the proud owner of an important piece of York City’s footballing history.

His home will soon display the massive ‘Welcome to Bootham Crescent’ sign that thousands of fans have walked under for years on match days.

Where he’ll exactly display it in his three-bedroomed semi - and whether he’s broken the news yet to his wife - remains a mystery.

My friend won the sign after making a significant bid in the club’s blind auction (another piece of information I wonder if he’s passed onto his beloved?!).

York City offered fans the chance to own precious pieces of Bootham Crescent following their move to the new LNER community stadium in Huntington.

Like many supporters, I was initially sad to think of the Minstermen playing anywhere else.

To me, the Crescent will always feel like the club’s true spiritual home.

I suspect many prayers have been uttered there since the first game in 1932.

Thousands of us were saying one in unison behind the goal when Keith Houchen took the last-minute penalty against Arsenal in the 1985 FA Cup.

Thank the Lord he scored it.

A few weeks ago I made a little evening pilgrimage to the stadium for the last time.

I reminisced and offered a prayer of thanks for the times I’d spent there with my dad.

The sense of hopeful expectancy we felt walking in on match days and - depending on the result - the jubilation, rage or crushing disappointment we felt walking out.

Over the years, I’ve found it enormously enriching to make space to remember special moments, happy places and the inspiration of precious people.

Looking back always helps me to look forward.

Although change is never easy, I’m now optimistic about City’s new dawn and a change of venue on Saturday afternoons.

Creating new memories - hopefully division-winning ones - is what’s important now.

And if I get too nostalgic for my days at Bootham Crescent?

I can always go to my friend’s house to look at his sign.

I'm sure his wife has already told him where to stick it.

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