York keen to consign Wembley heartache to history

LAST season had everything for York City apart from the perfect conclusion.

Missing out in the Blue Square Premier play-off final against Oxford at Wembley was a crushing blow as the club failed in their ultimate aim of returning to the Football League.

But there was so much to extol in that campaign, which also saw Martin Foyle's free-flowing side enjoy a memorable FA Cup run – even if it did end up in farce with their infamous journey to Premier League Stoke City – that supporters should expect plenty of success when the new season kicks-off again tomorrow.

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They have maintained the majority of their squad, crucially including 37-goal striker Richard Brodie, and added a raft of new signings, while the momentum generated on the pitch has been replicated elsewhere with a surge in season ticket sales for 2010-11.

York have passed the 1,000 mark, selling around 300 more than last term in a significant boost for the North Yorkshire outfit and there is a positive vibe emanating from Bootham Crescent.

However, ahead of their opener against Kidderminster Harriers, Foyle is keen to keep people grounded given what he believes is the toughest competition in years and reminds everyone those past exploits are now immaterial.

"Last season has gone," he told the Yorkshire Post.

"There was some fantastic football played, some great results, the FA Cup run, play-offs and getting to Wembley but now we need to knuckle down and start again.

"We can't just believe we'll go out and do it all over.

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"I think it's going to be a lot harder as there are some big spending teams in and around us."

Foyle is aware that York's budget does not compare to a lot of their rivals which increasingly reads like a Who's Who of famous former Football League names.

"There will be a lot of ups and downs and that's not me being negative," he said.

"I'm just telling people out there how I think this year will go with clubs like Fleetwood, Grimsby, Darlington, Wrexham and Cambridge, while Mansfield have spent heavily too.

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"It's going to be a very strong league and one in which a lot of teams will beat each other.

"One week you could be up in fourth or quickly down to 10th, but we won't be panicking and hopefully we can get our wins early and get up there to the play-offs."

Foyle believes many will be expecting the Minstermen to suffer a hangover from their Wembley heartache but he maintains his squad have the right approach to deal with the fall-out.

"A lot of people will be watching us and Rushden after losing out in the play-offs and wondering if we'll be feeling sorry for ourselves, if this season will be a case of after the Lord Mayor's Show," he said.

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"It's up to us to prove it isn't and the players' attitude has been very good.

"We've probably had too many in and out of pre-season and would have liked more minutes to get their fitness up but we'll be ready for Kidderminster."

Their visitors tomorrow are unrecognisable from the Harriers side which finished 13th last season, manager Steve Burr having made 14 new signings following a massive clear-out at Aggborough.

He took over mid-season in January and has kept only John Finnigan, Tom Sharpe, Kyle Hadley, Jack Byrne and Gavin Caines from the squad he inherited.

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"It was very similar to me the previous year," said Foyle, who took charge at York in October 2008.

"But he's got some good, experienced players in there with Finnigan and Mark Albrighton at the back, Chris McPhee up front and Lee Morris.

"He's brought in some quality and we know it's going to be very hard."

York's own signings include right-back Duanne Courtney, released by Burr and hoping to make an instant impression against his former club, along with ex-Sheffield Wednesday trainee Greg Young, a centre-half from Altrincham.

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Winger Peter Till arrives from Walsall, combative midfielder Jonathan Smith has joined from rivals Forest Green Rovers on a two-year deal, while another midfielder George Purcell scored 22 goals for Conference South outfit Braintree Town last term.

Goalkeeper David Knight is on a month's loan from Histon as cover for captain Michael Ingham while the only notable departures are Luke Graham who returned to Kettering Town and Ben Purkiss who signed for play-off conquerors Oxford.

"Players are now at that stage where they are itching to get in that starting XI," said Foyle, who has a fully-fit squad to choose from.

"It'll be a tough season – I think it's harder than League Two to get out of, up to 13 clubs could win promotion and 17 have got a chance of getting into the play-offs – but after 10 games we'll look again and if we need to add to it at the right times then we will."