A team called York City played from the turn of the 20th century at a ground called Field View, Holgate, only a few hundred yards from the ground of the club currently bearing that name. They folded under the pressures of cashflow and the limitations of attracting support caused by World War 1. When a new club was established in 1922 at a meeting at the Guildhall, it was decided they should take the same name. The new York City played at Fulfordgate on the other side of the city – Fulfordgate stood where Eastward Avenue is now. By the start of the 1922/23 season substantial banking had been formed by barrowing rubble from the sides of nearby Heslington Lane. Although Fulfordgate was converted to an entirely enclosed ground, capable of holding nearly 13,000 spectators, the ground was far from ideal. It proved to be too far from the railway station (the main route for visiting supporters in those days) and from the club’s centre of support. This persuaded the club to seek a new, more central home. In 1932 York City took over the former York Cricket Club at Bootham Crescent and converted it into a football ground.
The first strip of the club was maroon and white stripes, but by the time York City had been elected to the Third Divison North in 1929, they had switched to all-maroon shirts.
In an attempt to increase support from workers in the chocolate industry the board ordered the team to play in brown and cream striped shirts. This style was dropped after five years, because the players complained that the kit clashed too often with that of their opponents! It is perhaps difficult to imagine what the other teams wore. The true reason may have been that there was no considerable improvement in the size of the crowds, and the chocolate industry remained a soccer-free zone. The replacement was shirts of a deep red, which would remain unchanged for the next three decades. It inspired the supporters to call their favourites The Robins, long before the introduction of the title The Minstermen, named of course after the city’s magnificent gothic minster, the local seat of religion.
In the late Sixties York City started experimenting with their strip again. An all-white outfit preceded an innovative design of maroon shirts with a large white Y covering both shirts and shorts. This design, together with an elegant Y emblem was introduced by the then manager Tom Johnston. It coincided with the club’s only spell in the old Second Division (now perversely called “The First Division”). A new shirt, where the colours were reversed, however proved to be a disastrous influence, as in two years time York City were back in the basement. Deep red returned, this time accompanied by blue. It was there to stay, yet in various renderings.
The first emblem on The Minstermen’s shirt was the city’s coat of arms, used from 1922 until 1959 and worn on shirts only two years in the early Fifties. When the arms were officially granted is not known, but it is likely that they were granted by King Edward III (1327-1377). He made York his capital when fighting the Scots. The arms show the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England, and the lions of England. They are often displayed with the civic sword and mace crossed behind the shield, and with a chapeau above it. The arms were officially recorded in 1587. The right to use the sword, mace and cap by the mayor of York was granted in 1396 by King Richard II, when York received county status.
The second emblem, used from 1959 until 1978 and never worn on shirts, is a shield, containing the city’s minster, the white rose of Yorkshire and a robin, representative for the club colours. During the spell of this emblem a curly YCFC script occasionally adorned the shirts though. The penultimate emblem, worn on shirts from 1978 until June 2002 shows the Minster, supported by two lions, taken from the city’s’ arms.
Today’s badge was released in July 2002 after the arrival of John Batchelor, who saved the club from bankrupcy and withdrawal from the football league. The new badge was launched to modernise the club and attract new interest. It is percieved to be more adaptable and can be used in a variety of areas such as merchandise as well as the football club. Batchelor also owns a motor racing team, York City Racing, which competes in the British Touring Car Championships and so the badge is suitable for both the racing team and football team.
As part of the re-branding the club changed its name from York City Football Club to York City Soccer Club, thus SC in the badge stands for Soccer Club This had been implemented to attract sponsorship and interest from the USA. It was a new initiative which had not been attempted in England before. There are hopes of a link with New York City in the USA in the future. The black and white chequered pattern is to represent the York City Racing team. It is the racing flag and is used to include both York City Soccer Club and York City Racing in the overall club badge.
Regardless of York City’s vision the club now having been taken over by true supporters have embraced yet another emblem by the start of the 2003/2004 campaign. However modernish, it’s white ‘Y’ conjures up visions from earlier days as do the five lions from the city’s arms.