I was very keen to follow the open-top bus as it made its way through York on 21 May. Call me a ‘glory chaser’ if you like … I don’t stand on the terraces year after year, just wait for the victory parades …
I remember something similar back in 1984. There was also one in the 1990s. But clearly, they’re not that common.
When the bus emerged from the gates of Bootham Crescent, me and ‘Him Indoors’ thought we’d go up the parallel road of Grosvenor Terrace, to meet the bus as it emerged onto Bootham, and maybe get some half-decent photos of the front of it, rather than the back of it. ‘We should maybe run’, I said, foolishly, forgetting how long Grosvenor Terrace seemed last time I tried to run up it, chasing after the Scarborough Flyer.
After much huffing and puffing on my part, we did reach Bootham before the bus. Hurrah.
I don’t think the motorists queuing on Bootham thought hurrah, as the wide road was taken over by York City fans, in front of the bus, behind it, all around it, on both pavements, in the middle of the road. People who worked on Bootham came out to watch it pass. I bumped into someone I haven’t seen for years, outside the CBA offices. It was a happy atmosphere, with the sun beaming down, all noisy and colourful, all rather splendid. Not your usual Monday evening scene.
I remembered other marches, from years ago, from what are generally accepted as the club’s darkest days, when the Bootham Crescent ground was put up for sale, when it nearly went out of business. Back then, these same fans now looking so happy were putting money into buckets as they went into games, just to keep the club afloat.
I remember a march going the other way along Bootham, from town towards the ground, with a massive red banner stretching out across the road, declaring that York City had been saved, back in 2003. After all that, it didn’t seem right when the club was relegated to the Conference.
So, at last our city’s football team is back in the Football League, and here we were watching a victory parade. I was so pleased for the proper loyal City fans who stand on the terraces or sit in the stands at Bootham Crescent year after year, in all weathers. Thanks to them – and of course the players, manager, and all the hardworking staff at the club – the rest of us in York had a reason to feel proud, and had a carnival atmosphere to enjoy on this sunny evening in May.
It’s always nice to have an excuse to walk in the middle of the road, particularly when that road is Bootham, and you’re approaching Bootham Bar, lit by evening sun. The bar was surrounded by fans and well-wishers, who also lined the steps alongside it.
Here’s another photo of Bootham Bar, with bus. But perhaps the most memorable moment was in Blake Street, outside the Assembly Rooms. I was still walking with the crowd, ahead of the bus, hoping to catch up with family and friends in St Helen’s Square, as had been (vaguely) arranged. I was still thinking of the march years back, and the fight to save the club and its ground. And then they started singing. I guess chanting might be a better description. I can’t remember what. It doesn’t matter. I just remember the way the buildings around us channeled the sound, so what was already loud and rousing seemed louder. Made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Actually, I think it was at this point they were singing ‘We are York’, that’s probably what did it. Tears in my eyes a bit.
As the bus edged its way into a packed St Helen’s Square I stood back and took some photos, then located the people I thought we were meeting, though had lost track of my partner somewhere on Bootham. The throng was a bit much, and all a bit too stationary for my liking, so I ran off again after the bus, caught up with it on Parliament Street, then dashed back down Market Street to try to be in front of it again as it came back down Coney Street.
The crowds at the end, near the Mansion House, were densely packed. Getting into the square from that direction seemed impossible, so I went round the block, indeed round several blocks, and approached the square again from the Lendal side, where I ended up right next to the Guildhall entrance.
More singing, and chanting, and cans of lager being thrown into the crowd, from the top of the bus, until a policeman intervened. A bra being flung from the crowd towards the players on the top of the bus. Radio York’s commentator being hailed with a chorus of ‘There’s only one Barry Parker’. More fine rousing singing. Happy faces. Funny hats. Shiny trophy. Hurrah. We are York. Proper York.
Later, on our way home, on Bootham, when the street was back to normal and quiet, the open-top bus passed us again, on its return journey, with Gary Mills and Jason McGill on the top deck. Several teenage boys were running after it, though it was now going at normal bus speed, and they couldn’t keep up. Me and the proper City fan stood there and applauded from the roadside as it passed.
And for the ‘perfect day’ – the day before – there’s a lovely video on YouTube.
Going back some … report of the 2004 game when the team were relegated to the Conference – from The Press
And the 2003 march I remember – Let’s Celebrate – from The Press
More photos, and larger versions of the photos above, following the bus from Bootham to the Guildhall, can be viewed as a slideshow on my Flickr pages.