York City Knights

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York City Knights
York Knights.jpg
Full name York City Knights Rugby League Club
Founded 1868: York Football Club
2003: York City Knights
Location Huntington, York, England
Ground(s) Huntington Stadium
Coach(es) James Ford
League(s) Kingstone Press Championship 1 (From 2014)
2013 RFL Championship 14th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

York City Knights Rugby League Club are an English professional rugby league club based in York. In the 2014 season they will play in the Kingstone Press Championship One, after being relegated in 2013. The Knights play at the Huntington Stadium, situated to the north-east of York city centre.


Early years[edit]

The club was first formed as York Football Club in 1868 and played both association and rugby football, for the first few seasons they had portable goal posts as they did not have their own ground and would play wherever they could find a pitch. Eventually a permanent pitch was secured on Knavesmire.

It took three years for the club to record their first victory, and that was in an association football match against York Training College. Results picked up in the mid-1870s as the club attracted a higher standard of player. In 1877, York were among several leading Yorkshire clubs who inaugurated the Yorkshire Challenge Cup. In the first season 16 teams battled it out for the T'owd Tin Pot, with York eventually losing out to Halifax in the final.

Financial problems in the early 1880s forced the club out of the Yorkshire Gentlemen's Ground in Wigginton Road and in 1883 the club amalgamated with York Melbourne Club.

After playing on Poad's Fields for a short time, the York Lunatic Asylum leased the club a plot of land at the end of the Clarence Street in 1885. The first game at the new site was between a York XV and 20 players from the city.

The club made great strides with the team of 1895, which won virtually all their home matches. Off the field the club paid £85 for the Waterman's Mission Hut in Fishergate and converted it into their first grandstand, incorporating dressing rooms.

Northern Union[edit]

Northern rugby teams broke away from the Rugby Football Union to form their own Northern Union in 1895. York initially stayed with the Rugby Football Union but as more and more clubs began to join the new order, it became a financial necessity to follow suit. The decision to join the Northern Union was taken at a meeting at the Bar Hotel, Micklegate, on Monday, 25 April 1898 and five days later they played their first Northern Union match against Hull KR losing 29–2.

The York club was first admitted to the Rugby Football League in 1901. In 1902/03 The Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues were combined to form a second division. York was one of the new teams to join the second division. After World War I, they became known as "the Dreadnoughts". They beat the visiting Australasian team of the 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain 9–3.

York's best moment came in 1931 when they reached the Challenge Cup Final for the first time, only to be beaten 22–8 by Halifax. York had finished as the top Yorkshire club in 1932–33 for the first time and fourth in the league to qualify for the Championship play-offs but were beaten by Swinton. In 1933, York beat Hull Kingston Rovers 10–4 in the Yorkshire Cup final held at Headingley. 10 February 1934, York's record attendance was set when 14,689 turned up to watch a Challenge Cup match against Swinton, which ended in a 0–0 draw.

York again made the final of the Yorkshire cup in 1935 but were beaten by Leeds 3–0 at Halifax but were back the next year this time beating Wakefield Trinity 9–2 in a final held at Headingley.

Bill Kirkbride became coach in 1980. York team lifted the Division Two title in 1980–81, beating Hunslet 53–7 to guarantee themselves the title with two games to spare, finishing above big-guns Wigan and big-spending Fulham.[1] Kirkbridge left in 1982.

Financial problems forced the club to sell their training pitch for £200,000 in 1986. Three years later faced with a large bill for safety work, the rest of the stadium was sold to a housing developer for £705,000, less than half what the ground was worth. York's last match at Clarence Street produced a 26–17 victory over Hunslet in front of a crowd of 2,904 spectators. When plans to ground share with York City F.C. broke down, York moved to the Huntington Stadium (originally Ryedale Stadium) two miles to the north of the city at Monk's Cross. As the stadium was financed by Ryedale District Council the club became known as Ryedale-York.


Gary Stephens became coach in 1988. Huntington/Ryedale Stadium's record attendance for a rugby league match was set on 5 Jan 1990 when 4,977 turned up to watch a division two match against Halifax.

In 1991, York and Fulham toured Russia. An act that caused many Russian rugby union clubs to switch to rugby league. Stephens left as coach.

Stewart Horton took over the coaching reigns from Roger Millward in January 1995. He was sacked at the end of 1996 for alleged gross misconduct after the postponement of a friendly fixture at Hull. He was replaced by Dean Robinson. Following the move to summer rugby in 1996, the club was renamed York Wasps.

York Wasps[edit]

York won one game in the Northern Ford Premiership in 2000 and finished the campaign with a team of amateurs after almost folding. Coach Dean Robinson resigned in March 2000 and caretaker coach Garry Atkins finished the season.

Lee Crooks took over as coach in August 2000. They attracted sponsorship from the New York Economic Development Council for the 2001 season.[2] This promised, but did not deliver, a bright future. Lee Crooks resigned and academy coach Martin Flynn took charge for the final Northern Ford Premiership home game.

York made an approach to Virgin to buy the London Broncos in August 2001 and form a merged club under a new name, York Wasps Ltd, to play in Super League.[3] Australian Leo Epifania came over to England to be head coach of York Wasps in September.

On 19 March 2002, after completing 11 games,[4] York Wasps announced that they had folded. After a last-ditch take-over deal to save the Wasps collapses, the RFL accept the club's resignation on 26 March.[5] Ironically the plug was pulled less than a fortnight after the club's first win in 13 months.

Head coach, Leo Epifania quit England but York players continued to train with the idea of playing later in the season under unpaid caretaker-boss Stewart Horton. 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 new proposals 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. York RL 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.

York City Knights[edit]

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, while they picked new colours of blue and white – a move away from Wasps' traditional amber and black. John Guildford, majority shareholder of York building firm Guildford Construction, was revealed to be the majority shareholder. The Knights played their first game at home against Hull KR in the National League Cup on 19 January with a bumper crowd of 3,105. In their first year, the Knights made the National League Two play-offs but Paul Broadbent resigned as coach.

Richard Agar was appointed head coach.[6] The following year they were narrowly beaten in the play-off final by Halifax. Agar left York to join Hull as an assistant coach.[7]

York City Knights appointed Mick Cook as their new head coach in 2005 as part of a partnership with Super League club Leeds Rhinos,[8] they were champions and promoted automatically in his first year as Knights coach.[9] As well as gaining promotion to National League One, 2005 saw the club reach the fifth round of the Challenge Cup, as well as having 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 was a record for National League One.

Despite a good late run of form, York were relegated back to National League Two in 2006. They did however, win the Fairfax Cup, after beating Batley 14–10 in their first appearance in the York International 9s.

Mick Cook quit as coach to run his business. Paul March was appointed player-coach on a one-year rolling contract in September 2007, however was sacked in July 2009 due to disciplinary matters and then director of rugby James Ratcliffe took over.[10]

Dave Woods arrived at York City Knights as director of rugby in April 2010. Two months later, Ratcliffe was sacked and Woods was named as head coach. The Knights 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] 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 Roughyeds 25–6 at the Haliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington. The Knights had finished the regular season 13 points behind their final opponents.[12]

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 – until the RFL decided not to admit Crusaders into this division following their withdrawal from Super League, thus earning York a reprieve. Just six days later Dave Woods was sacked by the club.[13]

Gary Thornton was appointed head coach in 2012 replacing Chris Thorman who joined the coaching staff at Huddersfield Giants.[14]

York City Knights are currently playing in Championship 1, as they finished bottom of the Championship in the 2013 season. In 2014, York City Knights topped Championship 1 but lost in the end of season play offs, thus failing to secure promotion back the Championship.


Coaching register[edit]

2015 squad[edit]

* Announced on 23 March 2015:

2015 Squad Numbers

No Player Position Former club
1 James Haynes Full Back, Wing Gateshead Thunder
2 Ben Dent Wing New Earswick All Blacks
3 Greg Minikin Centre Amateur RL
4 Liam Cunningham Centre Doncaster RLFC
5 Nev Morrison Wing, Centre Doncaster RLFC
6 Jonny Presley Stand Off Blackpool Panthers
7 Pat Smith Half Back Gloucestershire All Golds
8 Mark Applegarth Prop, Utility Batley Bulldogs
9 Harry Carter Hooker York City Knights
10 Jack Aldous Prop Hull FC
11 Ryan Mallinder (C) Second Row Sharlston Rovers
12 Ed Smith Second Row York Acorn
13 Colton Roche Loose Forward Sheffield Eagles
14 Kristian Brining Hooker York City Knights
15 Josh Tonks Prop, Second Row Dewsbury Rams
18 Jake Joynt Second Row Featherstone Rovers
19 Jamel Chisholm Wing Featherstone Rovers
20 Jay Leary Prop Batley Bulldogs
21 Jack Pickles Loose Forward Amateur RL
22 Jack Iley Hooker Featherstone Rovers
24 Tyler Craig Centre, Wing Hull Kingston Rovers
25 Adam Dent Utility Back
26 Brad Nicholson Second Row, Prop Featherstone Rovers
27 Mick Learmonth Centre Huddersfield Giants - On Loan
28 Kane Riley Wing Featherstone Rovers
30 Liam Richmond Prop, Second Row
31 Casey Canterbury Hooker Gloucestershire All Golds
32 Elliot Bulmer Centre, Stand Off Hull Kingston Rovers
33 Lee Waterman Centre, Second Row Doncaster RLFC

2015 transfers[edit]


Player Club Contract length Date
England Luke Menzies Salford Red Devils 1 Year Loan March 2015
England Kane Riley Castleford Tigers 2 Years March 2015
England Casey Canterbury Gloucestershire All Golds 1 Month Loan April 2015
England Mick Learmonth Huddersfield Giants 1 Month Loan April 2015
England Lee Waterman Doncaster RLFC 1 Year May 2015


Player Club Contract length Date
England Austin Bell Released 1 Year March 2015
England Josh Nicklin Released 1 Year March 2015
England Corey Hanson Released 1 Year April 2015
England James Glover Released 1 Year April 2015
England Peter Aspinall Released 1 Year May 2015

Notable players[edit]

Players earning international Caps while at York[edit]

Hall of fame[edit]

The following players have been inducted into the York Rugby League Hall of Fame. To be considered for inclusion, a player must have spent at least four seasons at the club, and be retired for more than five years.[16]


  • Match records

Goals: 20 by Chris Thorman at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 (Goals: all time York RL record: Chris Thorman v Northumbria University, 6 March 2011)

Tries: 6 by Jonny Presley at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 (Tries: all time York RL record: 7 by Brad Davis v Highfield 17 Sep 1995)

Points: 56 by Chris Thorman at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 – 4 tries and 20 goals (Points: all time York RL record: 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 (Tries: all time York RL record: 35 by John Crossley, 1980–81) Points:412 by Danny Brough, 2004

  • Highest score for

132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 (all time York RL record: 132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011)

  • Biggest win

132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011 (all time York RL record: 132–0 at home to Northumbria University, 6 March 2011)

  • Highest score against

62–0 at St Helens, Powergen Challenge Cup, 6 May 2005 (all time York RL record: 98–0 at Rochdale Hornets, 8 April 2001)

  • Biggest defeat

62–0 at St Helens, Powergen Challenge Cup, 6 May 2005 (all time York RL record: 98–0 at Rochdale Hornets, 8 April 2001)

  • Highest home attendances

3,509 v Leeds Rhinos, Friendly, 3 January 2005 (at Bootham Crescent) 3,224 v Hunslet Hawks, NL2, 22 May 2005 3,106 v Oldham, CC1, 25 June 2009 3,105 v Hull KR, ATC, 19 January 2003 (all time York RL record – Clarence Street: 14,689 v Swinton (Challenge Cup), 10 February 1934. (all time York RL record – Huntington Stadium: 4,977 v Halifax (Division 2), 5 January 1990 – Then Ryedale Stadium.


  1. ^ "York Rugby League Club’s championship-winning team of 1980/1 to be re-united at a special dinner". The York Press. 20 May 2009. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "New York helps out 'worst side in Britain'". The Independent (London). 19 September 2001. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "York make Super League move". BBC Sport. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "York wiped from record books". BBC Sport. 10 May 2002. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "York Wasps fold". BBC Sport. 26 March 2002. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "King Richard". The York Press. 20 September 2009. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Agar set for Hull role". BBC Sport. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Knights appoint Cook". Daily Mail (London). 29 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/biginterview/display.var.1731061.0.mick_cook.php
  10. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/display.var.1714908.0..php
  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 appoint Gary Thornton as coach". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "NORTHERN UNION". Evening Post (Papers Past). 13 April 1910. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  16. ^ Martini, Peter (9 February 2013). "Hall to aim for in club’s new bow to an eternal Fame". The York Press (Newsquest Media Group). Retrieved 27 September 2014. 

External links[edit]