Richard Brodie relishing return as York City chase FA Cup success

The FA Cup is a competition that can get men and women old enough to know better more excited than they ought to be, but the smile on Richard Brodie’s face is about far more than just that.

The 34-year-old is grinning from ear to ear because the first time in four years he is stood at the Wigginton Road Training Ground – having dodged the familiar potholes on his way in, he jokes – dressed from head to toe in York City training kit.

The Gateshead-born former England C striker has also played for Whickham, Newcastle Benfield, Barrow, Crawley Town, Fleetwood Town, Morecambe, Grimsby Town, Gateshead, Hereford United, Southport, Aldershot Town, Stockport County, Macclesfield Town, Boston United, Skelmersdale United, Solihull Moors, Rushall Olympic, Warrington Town, Ramsbottom United and Ilkeston Town – did I miss anyone? – but it was his two spells at York, in 2007-2010 and 2016-17, which captured his heart.

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When the current manager of the Minstermen, Steve Watson, asked him to spend a few days in North Yorkshire and help out with a bit of coaching ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup first-round game at home to Buxton, Brodie “would have walked here with no clothes on.”

Richard Brodie during training with York City. Picture: York City

Fortunately he did not.

After a few media interviews, the Skelmersdale player-coach, currently studying for his UEFA B coaching badge, paid a first visit to the new stadium the saga around which was rumbling in the background even before he joined York the first time after troubling their defenders in an FA Cup tie. Being a striker is a lot about good timing and Brodie will be at the first game where all 8,500 seats at the Monk’s Cross ground will be open to the public. Its biggest crowd is therefore expected.

As to whether he will be in the stands or on the bench, “I don’t know yet,” he says. “But regardless of my capacity, I will be supporting the club.

“I had this conversation a few weeks ago and the manager wants to help me progress my coaching career. When he rang me up, I would have walked here with no clothes on. Luckily I’ve got a car and my clothes on but I genuinely would have because it’s an opportunity for me.

Training at York City ahead of FA Cup weekend. Picture: York City

“It’s still windy here but I’ve loved being on the grass again and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll enjoy Friday and Saturday, when hopefully the club are through to the next round.

“I was nervous this morning, genuinely nervous about what I was going to be asked to do – not that I couldn’t do, but it’s new.”

Brodie’s 76 goals across two spells is more than he has scored for any other club.

“The club’s got a real place in my heart and my family’s heart,” he says.

Former York City forward Richard Brodie in action for the Minstermen.

“Just driving to the training ground I got butterflies again and that can only be good for me.

“I got a bit emotional when I saw Bootham Crescent a few months back and the way it is now, it’s so sad because of the memories I had there.

“I haven’t been to the new stadium yet, the gaffer’s going to take me there now to have a look around. My first matchday will be great. It will be so exciting just to be there.

“I met some great people in the city, on the field, off the field and just around it, and hopefully I catch up with them as well because I’m in the city for a few days.”

Not that Brodie is here just to have a good time. Winning promotion back to the fifth tier –York are seventh in Conference North – has to be the club’s over-riding priority but the FA Cup is an even more special competition for them than for many, and there is work to do tomorrow against a side third in the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division, but with three games in hand to make up the seven-point gap to the leaders and under new management this week.

“As a player, as a coach, as a fan, as a chairman, the FA Cup brings memories but it also brings financial gain to a non-league club, which is massive,” he says, briefly parking romanticism for a bit of realism. “That ultimately helps towards the goal of promotion.

“It’s a one-off game and a massive opportunity to get through and you never know what happens. Look at the clubs in the second round if the club progresses –the likes of Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, big clubs.

“It’s a one-off game and winning is the top and bottom of it. But Buxton look a decent side and will be coming here full of confidence trying to pull off an upset so we’ve got to be on our mettle.

“You have to work hard and beat these sides to get to where you want to but the mood’s great. I know the club have lost one of the last seven, a great run, and winning games is a great habit, which Buxton have got at the moment too.

“Newts (Sean Newton) was back in training after being out for a while and it seems a great set of lads. Clayton Donaldson is still going at 38 years-old.

“It’s a credit to the manager the way he’s got the squad and I just hope it gets the club into the next round of the Cup.”