York City Knights

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For the previous rugby league clubs in York, see York Wasps.
York City Knights
York City Knights logo.png
Club information
Full name York City Knights Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) Minstermen
Colours Balmain colours.svg
Founded 2002
Current details
Chairman John Flatman
Coach James Ford
Competition League 1

York City Knights R.L.F.C. is an English professional rugby league club based in York. They play their home games at Bootham Crescent where they ground share with York City F.C..[1] In the 2016 season they played in the League 1.


2002–2003: Origins and foundation[edit]

On 19 March 2002, after completing 11 games,[2] the York Wasps announced that they had folded. After a last-ditch take-over deal to save the Wasps collapsed, the RFL accepted the club's resignation on 26 March.[3] A supporters' trust working party was formed on 27 March and applied to the RFL to continue the 2002 Northern Ford Premiership fixtures. After hearing it would be impossible to meet requirements to return that season, on 5 May fans backed a proposal for a new club to apply for admittance to the league for 2003.

The RFL accepted York's bid to play in the newly formed National League Two on condition that they had £75,000 in the bank by 31 August. The new club decided that the best way to raise cash was through a fans' membership scheme. Former Great Britain star Paul Broadbent was revealed as player-coach. With the total standing at £70,000, John Smith's brewery came in with £5,000 as the club hit the target just hours before the deadline.

The full name of the new club was revealed to be York City Knights RLFC, following a competition in the Evening Press. Club bosses, in the following month of October, also let the public design a club logo which was based on the New South Wales Rugby League Team's logo, while they picked new colours of blue and white – a move away from York RL's traditional amber and black. John Guildford, majority shareholder of York building firm Guildford Construction, was revealed to be the majority shareholder. They played at Huntington Stadium, where the previous incarnation of York RL played.

2003–2006: National League 2 and promotion[edit]

The Knights played their first game at home against Hull Kingston Rovers in the National League Cup on 19 January with a bumper crowd of 3,105. In their first year, the Knights finished fourth with 11 wins, a draw and 6 losses. They made the National League Two play-offs but lost 50–30 to the Barrow Raiders. Paul Broadbent resigned as coach at the end of the season.

Richard Agar was appointed head coach for the following year.[4] They made it all the way to the Challenge Cup Quarter Final, losing 50–12 to the Huddersfield Giants.[5] York also made the semi finals of the Championship Cup, losing 32–0 to Hull Kingston Rovers. After finishing second in the league, and three points behind Barrow Raiders, the Knights entered the play offs. They lost 37–20 in the qualifying semi final to Halifax and then beat Workington Town 70–10. Mark Cain broke the record for most tries in a match and the score was the highest points tally since the Knights were born. They were narrowly beaten in the play-off final by Halifax 34–30 at the Halton Stadium in Widnes. Agar left York to join Hull F.C. as an assistant coach.[6]

York appointed Mick Cook as their new head coach in 2005 as part of a partnership with Super League club Leeds Rhinos.[7] Cook's side made it to the 5th Round of the Challenge Cup losing 62–0 to St. Helens 62–0 at Knowsley Road. At the end of the league season they were champions by three points and were promoted automatically to National League One for the first time. They were now only one tier away from Super League. They had the highest crowd average for National League One teams, of 1,986. Yorks's game against Hunslet on 25 May 2005 drew a crowd of 3,224 which at the time was a record for National League One.

York kicked off their first season in rugby league's second tier, losing 25–18 away at Widnes Vikings. They lost their first seven games before finally beating Oldham 62–0 and then again 15 days later, 54–10. Despite a good late run of form including wins over Whitehaven, Doncaster and Rochdale Hornets, York were relegated back to National League Two at the end of the season culminating in a 60–16 defeat to Leigh Centurions at Hilton Park. York finished second bottom, above Oldham with five wins and thirteen defeats, three points below Doncaster. They did however, win the Fairfax Cup, after beating Batley 14–10 in their first appearance in the York International 9s.[8]

2007–2010: Relegation to Championship 1[edit]

2007 was a poor season for the City Knights, finishing sixth in the league with ten wins and twelve losses. There was also a record defeat for York City Knights in the Challenge Cup 5th Round losing 74–4 to Huddersfield Giants,[9] Chris Spurr getting York's sole try. Mick Cook quit as coach at the end of the season to run his business and Paul March was appointed player-coach on a one-year rolling contract in September 2007.

He took York to sixth place again with eleven wins and ten losses. Even though there were three promotion places available (two automatic, one via the play offs), the Knights failed to capitalise and lost in the play offs to Rochdale Hornets 12–28. Gateshead Thunder and Barrow Raiders went up automatically, Doncaster went up via the play offs.

2009 saw the Knights start positively and looked like they could challenge for the title. After a Sky Sports game at home to Oldham, March was sacked in due to disciplinary matters and then director of rugby James Ratcliffe took over.[10] The Knights finished third but eventually lost in the play offs in the semi final to Oldham 44–14.

Chris Thorman arrived at the club in 2010 as assistant to Ratcliffe but saw himself become acting head coach while Ratcliffe was suspended. The Knights claimed one of their biggest scalps when they defeated Leigh Centurions, who were in the division above, 13–12 in the Northern Rail Cup group stages thanks to a late Thorman drop goal. Ratcliffe returned for the away game at Doncaster and Dave Woods arrived at York as director of rugby in April 2010. Five games later, Ratcliffe was sacked after a 30–36 defeat to Swinton Lions and Woods was named as head coach. York were fifth in Championship 1 at the time after seven wins and six losses in the league. Woods' first game was a 60–12 victory over Gateshead and finished third in the table and thus qualified for the play-offs.[11] After losing to Oldham, York then beat Blackpool Panthers in the semi final where they'd face Oldham in the final. On 26 September 2010, the Knights won the Co-operative Championship 1 play-off Grand Final to earn promotion to the Championship. They beat Oldham 25–6 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington. The Knights had finished the regular season 13 points behind their final opponents.[12]

2011–2013: Promotion to the Championship[edit]

York finished third-bottom of the Championship in 2011, but bottom club Toulouse were exempt from relegation so, with two going down, the Knights faced demotion along with Dewsbury Rams – until the RFL decided not to admit Crusaders into this division following their withdrawal from Super League, thus earning York a reprieve. Dewsbury were also saved after Barrow Raiders received a points dedcution meaning the Knights finished fourth bottom. Just six days later Dave Woods was sacked by the club.[13]

In 2012, there were no relegation spots available and thus, York decided against strengthening their squad. Chris Thorman was appointed head coach and former Leeds Rhinos full back Jordan Tansey signed for the club on a one-year deal.[14] York won one league game all season beating Swinton Lions 26–22. Thus York finished bottom of the pile. Chris Thorman announced he would be joining the coaching staff at Huddersfield Giants at the end of the season. He was to be replaced by Gary Thornton who was appointed head coach in 2012 .[15]

2013 started off well for the City Knights and looked to be challenging for the play offs. A run of eleven straight losses at the end of the season and failure to win away in the league since June 2011 saw them relegated back to Rugby Leagues basement tier. They made the 5th round of the Challenge Cup losing 92–8 away at Catalans Dragons. The Knights finished the season seven points from safety with six wins and twenty losses.

2014–2016: League 1[edit]

York City Knights played in Championship 1, as they finished bottom of the Championship in the 2013 season. Famous wins in 2014 came against Hunslet whom they beat three time, 28–26 away in March, 40–0 at home in May and won the league at the South Leeds Stadium after the comeback was sealed thanks to a Colton Roche Try meaning the Knights won 20–18. They also beat Oldham 54–14 at home. York City Knights topped Championship 1 but lost in the end of season play-offs to Hunslet Hawks, thus failing to secure promotion back the Championship.

Gary Thornton was sacked and was replaced by James Ford for the start of the 2015 season where the Knights are now homeless after John Guildford failed to sign up for the Community Stadium deal. John Guildford has stepped down as Chairman[16] and appointed four directors; Stephen Knowles, Dave Baldwin, Neil Jennings and Gary Dickenson, the latter has since stepped down.[17]

On 18 June 2015, York City Knights reserves were kicked out of the reserve league and banned from entering the 2016 competition. The first team still remained homeless.[18]

At the end of the 2015 season, York City Knights finished Fourth in League 1 and qualified for the play offs. They lost out to Swinton Lions 17–16 on the Golden Point[19] They were also knocked out in the League 1 Cup second round by Newcastle Thunder.[20] They reached the fifth round of the Challenge Cup, losing to St. Helens 46–6.[21]

Closure threat[edit]

In July 2016 it was announced the club would not be able to play their first game of the Super 8s against Doncaster at Bootham Crescent due to York City FC playing on the Saturday, meaning that the Knights would have to play midweek due to there having to be 24 hours between games at the stadium. Due to the disputes between the owner and the council, the club directors announced that they would be winding up the club as soon as all necessary legal steps had been taken.[22][23][24] The following day a joint statement from the club, the RFL and the city council was issued stating "We continue to work to resolve this situation and are hopeful that ways can be found for James Ford and his players to be able to fulfil the remainder of their fixtures this season."[25] On 25 July the club owner, John Guildford, announced that he was in negotiation with local businessman, Gary Dickenson, and that the sale would be of a club "virtually debt-free" enabling the Knights to continue to run.[26] however on 23 August Dickenson discontinued the negotiations.[27] Following the collapse of the sale to Dickenson, Guildford put the club up for sale to any interested buyer.[28]

The RFL issued a deadline of 1 December 2016 for ownership issues to be resolved and late on 1 December the club issued a statement that ownership of the Knights had passed entirely to a consortium headed by Jon Flatman.[29] The following day the RFL confirmed that the team would be re-instated into League 1 for the 2017 season.[30] In January 2017, it was revealed that the club will play all home fixtures in 2017 and 2018 at York City's Bootham Crescent,[31] and that the team colours had changed to amber and black.[32]


2002–2014: Huntington Stadium[edit]

Main article: Huntington Stadium

The Knights moved into the Huntington Stadium in 2002 where the York Wasps had played their home games before they were dissolved. The capacity was 3,428 and the stadium also had an athletics track. The stadium was closed and demolished in 2014 after plans were put forward for the York Community Stadium which will be built on the same site.

2015: Elm Park Way[edit]

The Knights were left homeless and were forced to ground share with local amateur team Heworth ARLFC fir a season until they could find a permanent home.

2016: Bootham Crescent[edit]

One of the stands of the Bootham Crescent association football ground, with supporters sitting down and a grass field below
Main article: Bootham Crescent

In 2016 the Knights ground shared with York City F.C. at Bootham Crescent. The Crescent has a capacity of 8,256 with 3,409 seats and the remaining capacity is standing.


Coaching register[edit]

2017 squad[edit]

York City Knights 2017 Squad
First team squad Coaching staff

Head coach

  • (c) Captain
  • (vc) Vice captain

Updated: 13 February 2017
Source(s): 2017 Squad Numbers

2017 transfers[edit]


Player Club Contract length Date
England Danny Sowerby Bradford Bulls 2 Years November 2016[33]
England Tommy Saxton Halifax 2 Year November 2016[33]
England Tim Spears Featherstone Rovers 2 Years December 2016[34]
England Harry Tyson-Wilson Hull FC 1 Year December 2016[35]
England Bobby Tyson-Wilson West Hull 1 Year December 2016[35]
England David Foggin-Johnston Doncaster 1 Year December 2016
England Tommy Brierley Leeds Rhinos 1 Year December 2016
England Nev Morrison Australia 2 Years December 2016
England Adam Swift Featherstone Rovers 1 Year December 2016
England Adam Robinson Halifax 1 Year December 2016
England Liam Thompson Coventry Bears 1 Year December 2016
England Joe Batchelor Coventry Bears 1 Year December 2016
England Ronan Dixon Wakefield Trinity 1 Year December 2016
England Chris Siddons Lock Lane 1 Year December 2016
England Ash Robson Castleford Tigers 1 Year January 2017
England Will Jubb Hull Kingston Rovers 1 Month Loan February 2017
England Kieren Moran Hull Kingston Rovers 1 Month Loan February 2017


Player Club Contract length Date
England Kriss Brining Salford Red Devils 1 Year October 2016[36]
England Russ Spiers Doncaster 1 Year October 2016[37]
England Mike Emmitt Keighley Cougars 1 Year October 2016[38]
England Jack Aldous Newcastle Thunder 1 Year October 2016[38]
England Brett Waller Newcastle Thunder 1 Year October 2016[39]
England Josh Tonks Keighley Cougars 1 Year November 2016[40]
England Richard Wilkinson Sabbatical 1 Year November 2016
Jamaica Corey Hanson Doncaster 1 Year November 2016[41]
England Tyler Craig Newcastle Thunder 1 Year December 2016[42]
England Jack Anderson Retirement N/A December 2016
England Matty Dale Released December 2016

Notable players[edit]

Players earning international caps while at York[edit]


* Match records Goals: 20 by Chris Thorman at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011

Tries: 6 by Jonny Presley at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011

Points: 56 by Chris Thorman at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 – 4 tries and 20 goals

* Season records

Goals: 178 (174 goals and 4 drop goals) by Danny Brough, 2004

Tries: 25 by Peter Fox, 2005

Points: 412 by Danny Brough, 2004

*Consecutive Try Scoring Run:

Jack Lee – 10[43]

* Highest score for

132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011

* Biggest win

132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011

* Highest score against

92–8 at Catalans Dragons, Challenge Cup, 12 May 2013

* Biggest defeat

92–8 at Catalans Dragons, Challenge Cup, 12 May 2013

* Highest home attendances Huntington Stadium: 3,224 v Hunslet, NL2, 22 May 2005 3,106 v Oldham, CC1, 25 June 2009 3,105 v Hull KR, ATC, 19 January 2003 Other: 3,509 v Leeds, Friendly, 3 January 2005 (at Bootham Crescent)


  1. ^ "Knights' deal to play at Bootham Crescent will end before new stadium is ready – but has "provision to be extended"". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "York wiped from record books". BBC Sport. 10 May 2002. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "York Wasps fold". BBC Sport. 26 March 2002. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "King Richard". The York Press. 20 September 2009. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Agar set for Hull role". BBC Sport. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Knights appoint Cook". Daily Mail. London. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Cook salutes young victors". The Press. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Huddersfield 74, Knights 4". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Hunslet Hawks swoop to land sacked Knights coach Paul March". York Press. 10 July 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Dave Woods' reign of Knights". The York Press. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Oldham Roughyeds 4–25 York City Knights". BBC Sport. 26 September 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Chris Thorman takes over as Knights sack coach Dave Woods". The Northern Echo. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "York City Knights sign Jordan Tansey on one-year deal". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  15. ^ "York City Knights appoint Gary Thornton as coach". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  16. ^ "KNIGHTS STADIUM ROW: John Guildford steps down as York City Knights chairman". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  17. ^ "York City Knights appoint four new directors – John Guildford remains as chairman but gives up role in stadium talks". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  18. ^ "UPDATED: York City Knights reserve side expelled by Rugby Football League". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  19. ^ "MATCH REPORT: Agony as golden point drop goal sends York City Knights out of the play-offs – after they were 12 seconds from victory". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  20. ^ "York City Knights 24, Newcastle Thunder 38". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  21. ^ "Battling York City Knights put up a fight against Super League champions St Helens". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  22. ^ "BREAKING: Final curtain seemingly coming down on York City Knights". York Press. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  23. ^ "York City Knights: League One rugby league side announce closure". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  24. ^ "Club Statement – York City Knights RLFC". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  25. ^ "York City Knights could still be saved as City of York Council release joint statement". 22 July 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016. 
  26. ^ "York City Knights: League One club could be sold 'in next few days'". BBC Sport. 26 July 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  27. ^ "Gary Dickenson pulls out of talks to take over York City Knights". York Press. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 23 August 2016. 
  28. ^ "John Guildford says York City Knights up for sale". Minster FM. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 13 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Jon Flatman consortium completes takeover of York City Knights". The Press. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  30. ^ "York City Knights "to be included in League One fixture list" for 2017". The Press. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016. 
  31. ^ York City Knights will be playing at Bootham Crescent
  32. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: New-look York City Knights to revert to York RL's old amber and black colours". The Press. 12 January 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2017. 
  33. ^ a b "Tommy Saxton and Danny Sowerby confirmed in 2017 York City Knights ranks". The Press. 24 November 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  34. ^ "Big coup for new York City Knights regime as Championship captain pens deal". The Press. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  35. ^ a b "Hull starlet signs back at York City Knights... with his big brother". The Press. 8 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  36. ^ "It's official - York City Knights star Kriss Brining signs for Salford Red Devils". The Press. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  37. ^ "Russ Spiers becomes the latest player to leave York City Knights as takeover talks continue". The Press. 25 October 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  38. ^ a b "York chief disappointed to see Emmett join Keighley Cougars". Keighley News. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  39. ^ "Waller makes welcome return to Thunder". Newcastle Thunder. 10 November 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  40. ^ "Keighley Cougars sign Josh Tonks from York City Knights to replace Darren Hawkyard". Keighley News. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  41. ^ "Dons sign former Sheffield and York utility man Hanson". The Star. 29 November 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  42. ^ "York City Knights star Tyler Craig's move to Newcastle Thunder is confirmed". The Press. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  43. ^ "Phenomenal Lee to sheer power of TEN". Retrieved 21 July 2016. 

External links[edit]