Hood is hopeful of remaining part of York’s worst home run

DENIED: York City's Wes Fletcher is thwarted by Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke during a 13-match winless run this season for the Minstermen. Picture: Tony Johnson.
DENIED: York City's Wes Fletcher is thwarted by Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke during a 13-match winless run this season for the Minstermen. Picture: Tony Johnson.
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DURING his eight years as a York City stalwart, Derek Hood experienced both sides of how momentum can work in football.

A little over three decades ago, for instance, he was part of the juggernaut that was the Minstermen as Denis Smith’s side romped to the Fourth Division title and became the first club to smash through the 100-points barrier.

Less happily, however, Hood, now 56, was also the only ever-present for York in the season that included a record 14 games without winning on home soil.

His part in that unwanted slice of history means the native of County Durham has plenty of sympathy with the current York squad, who, if they fail to beat Accrington Stanley on Boxing Day, will match that miserable run of 1981-82.

“It is amazing how a long run like this can prey on players’ minds,” said Hood – who made more than 350 appearances for York after signing from Hull City in February, 1980 – when speaking to The Yorkshire Post.

“We obviously went through the same all those years ago.

“I can’t recall many individual games, but when you are on a bad run it affects your confidence, no doubt about that, and it can be hard to come out of the other side.

“The flipside of how momentum can work in football came when we won promotion (in 1983-84) and got 100-odd points. I remember going out that season every week believing we were going to win and no one was going to stop us.

“York won’t be enjoying it right now, When you are not wining at home, it plays on the mind. All you want to do is end the run.

“When you look at the lads we had (in 1981-82), a fair number went on to win promotion a couple of years later. So that showed we had the players. But, for whatever reason, we just couldn’t win at home.”

York finally ended that wait for an elusive first win after 171 days when Port Vale, themselves unbeaten in 15 games and firmly in the hunt for promotion, came to Bootham Crescent on February 22, 1982.

By then, Barry Lyons’s 21-month reign as manager had ended with Kevin Randall and then Barry Swallow taking up the reins on a caretaker basis during the second half of the season.

A 2-0 triumph over Vale was sealed when Hood scored from the penalty spot on a cold night after Keith Walwyn had been fouled, Gary Ford’s cracking volley having earlier opened the scoring on 20 minutes.

‘13th time lucky as York end sad run’ read the following day’s Yorkshire Post headline in response to the Vale victory ending a 12-game winless run in the league.

York’s response to ending that five-and-a-half month wait for three points at Bootham Crescent was to go on and win eight of their next 10 home games.

Such a stirring end to the campaign helped the Minstermen, who had finished rock bottom of the Football League the previous season, up to a final place of 17th.

Hood said: “The big thing I do remember from that time was how 1,600 hardcore fans stuck with us.

“All those games without a win must have tested their patience but they kept coming, week after week.

“After we had won promotion in 1984, the average gate in Division Three was something like 5,800.

“I was especially pleased for those who had been there a couple of years earlier.”

York’s current home troubles began last May, when a 1-0 defeat against Fleetwood Town in the League Two play-offs proved to be too big a setback to overcome in the return leg as the Cod Army booked their own trip to Wembley.

What few leaving a wet Bootham Crescent that night could have imagined, however, was that seven months later their side would become the first in the history of the basement division to reach Christmas Day without a single home win in any competition.

It means a sorry 13 games have passed since York last won in front of their own fans and if that run is extended then Hood and co will be joined by the current crop as the joint holders of the club’s worst home run. Not that the one-time £2,000 signing from Hull wants that to happen.

“I haven’t been down to a match this season,” said Hood, who was twice an ever-present for York and also voted Clubman of the Year in 1982-83. “I have been too busy with the family. But I do follow the results closely. I was at York for a long time and really want the club to do well.

“It was great when York got back into the League a couple of years ago, and I was jealous of all those Wembley trips they had.

“We had some great times during my time there with promotion and the big Cup ties (against Liverpool and Arsenal). But we never went to Wembley or anything like that.

“I just hope Russ (Wilcox) and his team can end the run on Boxing Day and then use that win to build up some momentum to move away from the bottom.

“After all the effort that went into winning back League status, it would be awful if York were to be dragged into trouble again.

“Hopefully, one win will change everything and York can soon start to move up the league.”