In the third part of our ‘Who Are Ya?’ series looking at our League One opposition, we take a look at last season’s League Leaders Trophy winners, York City Knights.
YORK CITY KNIGHTS 2014:
Final Position: 1st in Championship One
Challenge Cup: 4th Round (Lost v Swinton Lions)
Top Tryscorer: Ben Dent (18)
Top Pointscorer: Ben Reynolds (163)
Biggest Win: 76-0 v South Wales Scorpions (Home, 23/3/14)
Heaviest Defeat: 12-31 v Oldham Roughyeds (Home, 21/9/14)
It was so near yet so far for the York City Knights as following storming to the League Leaders trophy they fell away in the play offs.
Despite finishing the regular season with ten consecutive victories, the Knights suffered shock back-to-back home defeats at the hands of Oldham and Hunslet in the play-offs to end their promotion push.
After beginning 2014 with four consecutive victories which included defeating Whitehaven in the Challenge Cup, the Knights suffered back to back defeats at the hands of Swinton in the Cup and Oxford in the League.
The regular league season would only bring two more defeats, a heart breaking last minute drop goal defeat at Oldham and a shock narrow two point defeat on the road at the Gloucestershire All Golds.
A 40-0 thrashing of Hunslet at Huntington paved the way to a phenomenal run of form to take the club into the play offs as firm favourites to secure promotion up into the Championship.
Four point triumph over Gateshead and two point over Hunslet gave Knights there only real tests as they comfortably swept aside all before them including the Oldham Roughyeds who they thrashed 54-12 at home to really lay down the marker going into the final months.
York City Knights secured the league leaders shield with a game to spare following the 20-18 victory at home to the Hunslet Hawks, but in the play offs things would not go their way.
With home advantage to their favour, York imploded, being seen of 31-12 by a defiant Oldham side before the club’s final ever game at Huntington saw them the victims of a 32-24 comeback defeat to Hunslet.
These defeats ended all hopes of promotion and then to the amazement of all involved, the departure of Gary Thornton as head coach.
2015 SQUAD (NUMBERS TBC):
Jack Aldous, Mark Applegarth, Peter Aspinall, Austin Bell, Kris Brinning, Elliot Bulmer, Harry Carter, Jamel Chisholm, Tyler Craig, Liam Cunningham, Adam Dent, Ben Dent, Corey Hanson, James Haynes, Jake Joynt, Ryan Mallinder, Greg Minikin, Nev Morrison, Brad Nicholson, Josh Nicklin, Jonny Presley, Colton Roche, Ed Smith, Pat Smith, Josh Tonks
Former fans favourite Mark Applegarth has returned to York following years away with the Batley Bulldogs and will take up the role of Player-Assistant Coach.
New Knights Coach James Ford has also added experience and pace to his back line with Leeds Rhinos academy product Jamel Chisholm arriving following a year at Featherstone in which he spent most of on loan at the Hunslet Hawks.
The Centres pair of Nev Morrison and Liam Cunningham have both joined from Doncaster RL with Jamaican international Corey Hanson also arriving from South Yorkshire, but from the Sheffield Eagles.
Peter Aspinall, who has gained Championship experience during loan spells with the Sheffield Eagles over the past few seasons, has arrived from the Huddersfield Giants.
James Ford has hung up his boots to become the new Head Coach, with Jason Golden also announcing his retirement.
The Knights will feel the losses of Captain Jack Lee and team mate Brad Brennan who have both joined recently promoted Hunslet Hawks.
Benn Hardcastle made his loan switch to Gateshead Thunder a permanent one whilst Iain Morrison has made the move to the Swinton Lions.
The Knights have also released nine players, which include veteran forward Lee Paterson and Benn’s brother Luke Hardcastle.
Ford has also invested in youth by taking Hull FC’s Josh Nicklin, Hull KR’s Elliot Bulmer and Featherstone’s Brad Nicholson following there release from the respective clubs.
James Ford was appointed Head Coach following retirement to replace Gary Thornton, who was sensationally removed from the position at end of the 2014 season.
Ford, who was a centre, finished his playing days with York after a career which saw him play for five clubs over seventeen years.
After breaking through with the Featherstone Rovers, Ford moved on to the Sheffield Eagles where his performances attracted Castleford Tigers who took Ford from the Eagles where he would play regularly in Super League over two seasons at The Jungle.
A spell at Widnes followed before the move to the Knights where Ford finishing his playing days and will now start his coaching ones.
Away from Rugby, Ford and his Player-Assistant Mark Applegarth teach at Wakefield College.
We don’t play York City Knights away this season barring any cup draws to the contrary. However, the Knights are currently homeless.
With the Huntington Stadium now closed to be transformed into the brand new York Community Stadium for both Knights and the York City football club, they were due to share City’s current home of Bootham Cresent for the next two seasons.
However, the ongoing row between York City Council and Knights Chairman John Guildford now means this ground share has fallen through and left YCK homeless for the near future.
CHANCES FOR 2015:
Even though they topped the table with relative comfort last season, League One is a whole different proposition this time around.
With the five relegated teams and Oldham and Gateshead getting stronger, an experienced coach and a weaker team on paper could prove a weakness for YCK.
And with the Chairman prepared to step down to secure the clubs future and no home, off field troubles could dictate the season ahead.
JOSHUA CHAPMAN PREDICTS: 7th
FIXTURES AGAINST THE COUGARS:
Friday 3rd April – Keighley Cougars v York City Knights – 3pm – Kingstone Press League One