York City Knights

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York City Knights.png
Full name York City Knights Rugby League Football Club
Nickname(s) Knights, City Knights
Founded 2002 (1868 as York RL)
Location York, North Yorkshire
Ground(s) Homeless
Chairman John Guildford
Coach(es) James Ford
Captain(s) Ryan Mallinder
Top scorer 90 B Dent
Most tries

10 G Minikin

10 L Cunningham
League(s) League 1
2014 1st
Team kit
Change kit
Largest win
132-0 v Northumbria University, 6th March 2011
Largest defeat
92-8 v Catalans Dragons, 12th May 2013
Official website

York City Knights RLFC are an English professional rugby league club based in York. In the 2015 season they will play in the Kingstone Press League One. The Knights are currently homeless and have been playing games this season at Clifton Park, Post Office Road and Elm Park Way.


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 Kingston Rovers 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 the First World War, 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 Thrum Hall, 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.

The Start[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 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 were to play at Huntington Stadium, where the previous incarnation of York RL played.

2003-2005, National League 2[edit]

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 finished fourth with 11 wins, a draw and 6 losses. They made the National League Two play-offs but lost 50-30 to Barrow Raiders. Paul Broadbent resigned as coach at the end of the season.

Richard Agar was appointed head coach[6] for the following year. They made it all the way to the Challenge Cup Quarter Final losing 50-12 to Huddersfield Giants.[7] York also made the semi finals of the Championship Cup losing 32-0 to Hull Kingston Rovers. After finishing 2nd 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 as an assistant coach.[8]

York appointed Mick Cook as their new head coach in 2005 as part of a partnership with Super League club Leeds Rhinos.[9] 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.

2006, National League 1[edit]

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 the 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 for safety. They did however, win the Fairfax Cup, after beating Batley 14–10 in their first appearance in the York International 9s.

2007-2010, National League 2/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,[10] 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 the Sky Sports game at home to Oldham, March was sacked in due to disciplinary matters and then director of rugby James Ratcliffe took over.[11] 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.[12] 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 Haliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington. The Knights had finished the regular season 13 points behind their final opponents.[13]

2011-2013 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.[14]

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.[15] 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 .[16]

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-Present, Championship 1[edit]

York City Knights are currently playing 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[17] and appointed four directors,[18] Stephen Knowles, Dave Baldwin, Neil Jennings and Gary Dickenson, the latter has since stepped down.

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 remain homeless.[19]


York RL[edit]

York City Knights[edit]

Coaching register[edit]

York RL[edit]

York City Knights[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
5 Nev Morrison Wing, Centre Doncaster
6 Jonny Presley Stand Off Blackpool
7 Pat Smith Half Back Gloucestershire All Golds
8 Mark Applegarth Prop, Utility Batley
9 Harry Carter Hooker York City Knights
10 Jack Aldous Prop Hull
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
18 Jake Joynt Second Row Featherstone Rovers
19 Jamel Chisholm Wing Featherstone Rovers
20 Jay Leary Prop Batley
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 - 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

2016 transfers[edit]


Player Club Contract length Date
England Casey Canterbury Gloucestershire All Golds Free April 2015
England Lee Waterman Free 1 Year May 2015
England James Clare Castleford Tigers Dual-Reg May 2015
England Michael Channing Castleford Tigers Dual-Reg May 2015
England Mike McMeeken Castleford Tigers Dual-Reg May 2015
England Kane Riley Featherstone Rovers 1 Year May 2015
England Mick Learmonth Huddersfield Giants 1 Year June 2015


Player Club Contract length Date
England Austin Bell Released March 2015
England Josh Nicklin Released March 2015
England Corey Hanson Released April 2015
England James Glover Released April 2015
England Peter Aspinall Released May 2015
England Lee Waterman Doncaster 1 Year June 2015
England Jamal Chisholm London Skolars 1 Month Loan July 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.[21]


York RL[edit]

* Match records Tries: 7 by Brad Davis v Highfield 17 Sep 1995

* Season records Tries: 35 by John Crossley, 1980–81

* Highest score against 98–0 at Rochdale Hornets, 8 April 2001

* Biggest defeat 98–0 at Rochdale Hornets, 8 April 2001

* Highest home attendances

Clarence Street: 14,689 v Swinton (Challenge Cup), 10 February 1934.

Huntington Stadium: 4,977 v Halifax (Division 2), 5 January 1990 – Then Ryedale Stadium.

York City Knights[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[22]

* 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. ^ "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. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/archive/2004/03/29/7889962.Giants_50__Knights_12/?ref=arc
  8. ^ "Agar set for Hull role". BBC Sport. 13 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Knights appoint Cook". Daily Mail (London). 29 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  10. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/yorkcityknights/matchreports/1301246.Huddersfield_74__Knights_4/?ref=arc
  11. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/display.var.1714908.0..php
  12. ^ "Dave Woods' reign of Knights". The York Press. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  13. ^ "Oldham Roughyeds 4-25 York City Knights". BBC Sport. 26 September 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  14. ^ "Chris Thorman takes over as Knights sack coach Dave Woods". The Northern Echo. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  15. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-league/16449700
  16. ^ "York City Knights appoint Gary Thornton as coach". BBC Sport. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  17. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11878116.KNIGHTS_STADIUM_ROW__John_Guildford_steps_down_as_York_City_Knights_chairman/
  18. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11759769.York_City_Knights_appoint_four_new_directors___John_Guildford_remains_as_chairman_but_gives_up_role_in_stadium_talks/?ref=mr
  19. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/yorkcityknights/13340723.UPDATED__York_City_Knights_reserve_side_expelled_by_Rugby_Football_League/
  20. ^ "NORTHERN UNION". Evening Post (Papers Past). 13 April 1910. Retrieved 25 November 2014. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/sport/yorkcityknights/diary/11429433.Phenomenal_Lee_to_sheer_power_of_TEN/?ref=rss

External links[edit]