FOR York City tomorrow, read FC Halifax Town a year ago.
Relegated from the National League in heart-breaking fashion on the final day of the season, the Shaymen had to wait a little over three weeks to take part in the 2016 FA Trophy final at Wembley.
Soul-searching was the order of the day for many, as countless ‘what if? and ‘if only’ scenarios were played out over a demotion that had only been confirmed when the final whistle blew at Guiseley to signal Mark Bower’s side had beaten Torquay United to leapfrog over their West Yorkshire neighbours.
READ MORE - Gary Mills: Next season starts at Wembley
READ MORE - Daniel Parslow has plenty of Wembley experience
Being relegated was not nice. It left everyone a bit numb. Since reforming (in 2008), being relegated was our first real setback and it hit people hard. Thankfully, though, we then had Wembley to look forward to.Bobby Ham
This time around, York were the fall guys for another last gasp escape by the Leeds club to ensure many in the 6,000 strong travelling army of support set to descend on Wembley tomorrow will do so with a heavy heart.
Relegation, however, does not have to mean the end, as Halifax proved last weekend by clinching an instant return to the top flight of non-League football by beating Chorley in the National League North play-off final. Bobby Ham, a director at The Shay, believes the seeds of that success were sown a year ago at Wembley.
“Being relegated was not nice,” said Ham. “It left everyone a bit numb. Since reforming (in 2008), being relegated was our first real setback and it hit people hard.
“Thankfully, though, we then had Wembley to look forward to. A lot of clubs never get the chance to play there. The old Halifax Town never did and neither had the new one until then.
“It was a fantastic day, made all the better by us winning the final. Lifting the Trophy gave us that little boost we probably needed, meaning we had something to take into the summer.
“I would have hated to go into the close season on the back of just relegation. This way, we had something to look back on positively.”
Scott McManus netted the only goal in last year’s final as Grimsby Town, fresh from winning promotion back to the Football League, were beaten under the Arch,
With North Ferriby United triumphing in the 2015 final, York can make it a hat-trick of successes for the county tomorrow by beating Macclesfield.
Ham added: “I hope York can do the same, win the Trophy and then come back up next season. It won’t be easy, as the standard in National League North was a lot higher than when we had last played in the division.
“There are a lot of moneyed clubs in the division now. That makes it a tough, tough league. But, if York can end this season by winning at Wembley, that will be something to take into the new season.”