This season is set to be a historic one for York City. Today they face Newport in the FA Trophy final at Wembley and have a chance of clinching promotion to the Football League at the same venue when they face Luton in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off final.
Fans are now hoping for a repeat of York’s first memorable appearance at Wembley on May 29, 1993, when the team beat Crewe Alexandra to secure the last spot in the Second Division.
Left-back Wayne Hall, now 43, converted the decisive penalty to secure promotion for the team.
“It was a great day that will always be lodged in my memory banks,” he said.
“I remember very vividly the atmosphere driving up to Wembley. I remember walking out on to the pitch and looking at the thousands of fans surrounding me.”
Almost as soon as the game began, York were confident victory was in their reach.
“In the first 10 to 15 minutes we realised we’d got a really good chance of winning. Tony Canham came over to me and said, ‘We’ve got them, we’re going to win’.
“We expected Crewe to come out attacking and being aggressive, but they didn’t.
“We took the game by the scruff of the neck.”
York went very close to scoring in the first half, with Canham rattling the crossbar with a shot from 20 yards.
Although Crewe improved after the break, York still looked the better side, almost scoring again as Jon McCarthy hit the woodwork.
Then, in the last minute of normal time, McCarthy broke free and ran 50 yards only to send the ball over the bar from close range and the goalless game moved into extra time when Gary Swann broke the deadlock in York’s favour.
Crewe soon equalised with a goal from Dave McKearney, taking the game to a penalty shoot-out.
Hall recalled that York reaped dividends from having practised penalties in the build-up to the match, and McCarthy, Paul Barnes and Canham converted penalties in quick succession.
McKearney and Shaun Smith scored for Crewe, Nigel Pepper made it to 4-2 and then Ashley Ward narrowed the gap. It was Hall’s turn to take centre stage.
“I remember just walking up, blanking everything out and placing the ball on the penalty mark, then walking away from it, running in and slotting the ball in to the goalkeeper’s left.
“Then I realised we’d just gone up. I sunk to my knees with my arms up. A few seconds after, my team-mates jumped on me. I looked at Dean Kiely, our goalie, and then the team jumped on him too.
“It’s impossible to describe the euphoria we all felt. Everybody felt the same; we deserved it as a team.
“We were all very close, we’d worked very hard all season long – we’d been consistently the third-best team in the division so deserved that victory.
“It’s the pinnacle of any footballer’s career to play at Wembley Stadium, whether the old one or the new. It’s the home of English football and I was very proud, very honoured to play there.”
Hall praised the leadership of manager Alan Little, who had only been in the job for two months.
“John Ward was manager before him, and Alan was there under John. Alan did very well to keep the team momentum going. He kept us going into the final and the rest is history.”
Hall stayed in the team another eight years before retiring to become a civil servant.
“I’d always loved football, always played it from being a young kid. I was fortunate and privileged to make a professional, but I felt I was mentally and physically ready to go,” he said.
He is confident that the team will do themselves credit at Wembley.
“They shouldn’t be overawed by playing at Wembley, they deserve to do well.”