York City: Chris Smith interview

Chris Smith admits after three fine years at York City he left the club on something of a sour note following relegation to the Conference back in 2004, and thought he'd left the club for good.

But now the 29-year-old is back in town, hoping to go full circle in taking the Minstermen back to the Football League.

Smith is one month into his Bootham Crescent return having joined the club on loan from Mansfield Town until January.

It is a move that may well become permanent, Smith appointed captain by manager Gary Mills, and the centre-back admits a long stay and the possibility of promotion would be a fairy-tale ending to his trials and tribulations with York.

The defender clocked up nearly 100 appearances in his first stint at York between 2001 and 2004 but his final few appearances ended in bitter disappointment with City relegated from League Two following a turbulent season on and off the field.

That campaign left Smith with mixed memories but back in his second stint he hopes to help get York back to where they rightly belong.

"It would be very good to do that and obviously everyone tries to play at the highest level they can," Smith told Yorkshire Sport.

"But number one I think York City itself with the backing they have got – the fans, the board, the manager and the players – deserve and they have got the foundations there to be in the League.

"It's just getting there!

"This is such a hard league to get out of and it's getting stronger and stronger each year but number one they have got the foundations which are there and I want to be a part of it.

"I was deeply disappointed when we got relegated but it would be nice to get York back in the League and stay there which is what everyone deserves."

Looking back on his memories of his first spell at the club, Smith continued: "It's a little bit of a mixture.

"Obviously I made my league debut here and I had what I consider to be

three good seasons here.

"I got in the team in the first season and then played well in the second and third, I was a regular but then the following season was hard with the club going into administration, the takeover, and then obviously being relegated. That's not something you like on your CV but

I suppose I learned a lot.

"The majority of the time was really good and l've still got people that I speak to, I've got some good friends that I still speak to, ex-players and that and it's nice."

Smith moved south to Stafford Rangers after leaving York in 2004 and after one season there it was on to Worcester City.

Three years with the Dragons followed before Smith joined Tamworth – where his affinity with manager Mills began – but only this summer had the 5ft 10ins star began settling into a new move following a transfer to Mansfield Town.

Smith remains a Stags player but says he had little option but to leave on loan and was only too pleased to re-join York.

"I played 15 games for Mansfield, every game and then I heard a rumour that the manager was going to bring some players in and some centre-halves," said Smith.

"I went to see him to see if it was true and he said yes and that it was more than likely he was going to be bringing two in and that they were going to play.

"I said 'well where does that leave me' and he said 'well it's up to you' and I said basically I don't want to be in the stands every week watching us play. I want to play football and he said 'well if you want to go on loan go on loan'."

"Then it just worked out from there."

Mills was quick to learn that Smith's services were available and wasted no time in recruiting the defender – or in making him in captain, with Smith stressing it is an "honour" to be Minstermen skipper.

And now, with City already back in the top half of the table, York's returning centre-back admits his second spell at Bootham Crescent is already a very nice surprise.

"I'm loving it," he said.

"It's somewhere I never expected to come back to and that's not in a bad way, you just never expect to go back to your old club.

"But it's been brilliant since I've been here and I'm really enjoying it."