by Neil Fissler
GRAEME CRAWFORD is modest about his record that did more than almost anything else to help York City win promotion from Division Three.
Crawford kept 11 consecutive clean sheets, to beat a record which had stood for nearly 50 years, as York claimed third place behind Oldham Athletic and Bristol Rovers.
The club had avoided relegation on each of the previous two seasons only on goal average, but that was about to change.
Crawford would play a major part equalling the record for clean sheets set in 1926 by Millwall’s Joe Lansdale, who played in ten games and Fred Fox the other.
He was unbeaten in 1,039 minutes for a Football League best that stood for five years until Reading’s Steve Death went unbeaten in 1,103 minutes.
It helped York to gain promotion to Division Two for the first time, but Crawford says he had some luck along the way.
“It was unbelievable. I got the record supposedly, but it was very much a team effort,” he insisted.
“Two or three times the ball would go past me, but Phil Burrows would turn up on the line. Phil would knock it away. But we had a lot of luck as well because we had two or three penalties in that time, but fortunately I went the right way and saved them.
“It was one of those things. We were on a bit of a roll and confidence was high, but the lads in front of me were very much part of that as well.
“Chris Topping, John Stone and Phil Burrows were always getting me out of trouble and they still are to this day.
“I remember the goal that beat me was a header from Jack Howarth, who had scored against us at Aldershot. Then, he did the same at Bootham Crescent.”
After winning the opening game against Charlton Athletic 4-2, York failed to win any of their next three games.
But, by mid-November, they had hit their stride and found themselves in the promotion places. They stayed there against the odds.
York sealed promotion with a 1-1 draw against champions Oldham at Bootham Crescent, Chris Jones scoring one of his 17 goals that campaign.
They were to finish third on goal average, however, after dropping a point in their penultimate game at Halifax.
“Tom Johnston brought in one or two players and the team just went from strength to strength, though at the start of that season when we were promoted we had a bit of a nightmare,” said Crawford.
“We won only one of our first few games, but then we went on a right run and confidence was obviously high.
“Even if we went a goal down, we knew we would come back. And we thought we were never ever going to get beaten. We had a team with no stars and everyone played for everyone else.
“The first season we went up into the Second Division we were doing really well – and then in the second season, too.
“If we had strengthened the team in a couple of places, we would have stayed up, but unfortunately Tom (Johnston) and us went downhill from then.”