THE whole saga with the new Community Stadium was back in the news this week (well, it’s been a while since it was last in there) – and it sparked a short but comical exchange on social media.
After the Lib-Dems raised concerns about not only decisions behind made “behind closed doors” but also new delays, City of York Council moved to assure people it was still on track to be completed by July 2016. (For anyone unaware it had been put back to that date, it was apparently made public in April).
The fact that is some four years after outline planning was approved might be beside the point to some, but it did not go unnoticed by York City Knights media manager Gavin Wilson, who prompted the little Twitter chitchat.
“Seriously, where is this stadium. It’s getting ridiculous now,” he wrote, directing the question to council leader James Alexander.
“Construction starts March 2015 + is complete July 2016,” responded James.
“Why yet another delay?” asked Gavin.
“There isn’t,” tweeted James. “Been saying these times for past year or so. I’m looking forward to start.”
At which point Knights chairman John Guildford joined in.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it finished James,” he quipped.
“Me too,” responded James. “My colleagues + I deliver on what we promise... even on 20mph.”
That, of course, referred to the council’s plan to bring down speed limits in residential streets of York, but it did leave him open a bit.
“What do you mean, going slow?! Lol” came Guildford’s comedy retort, obviously meant in jest.
• ANYWAY, aside the Twitterings, things seem to have progressed a little this week.
An announcement on the tenders to build and run the new stadium – in a portfolio that also includes looking after Energise and Yearsley Baths – is due any minute now (well, hopefully by the end of the month at least).
Guildford has said the Knights need to know without further ado more details about the new stadium, such as its design and how it will be run, to "put minds at rest", especially as they have now been given notice to leave their current Huntington Stadium home this autumn.
This announcement should therefore - hopefully - help towards that and towards all parties signing formal legal agreements over licences to play at the new shared ground.
• THE stadium completion date of July 2016 falls in nicely with the start of the football season, so it would appear – perhaps unsurprisingly - that York City are likely to get to play the first game there.
There might be a way for the Knights to also be invited to the big opening party, though.
Given the new league structure coming into professional rugby league, the start of the football season will not be too far off the start of the “Super 8s” in the 13-a-side game. This is when the regular season ends and the new series of matches to decide titles, promotions and relegations begins.
Well, how about a double header at the new stadium on the same day, with City playing their first home game of the 2016/17 season, and the Knights playing their first match of the Super 8s series?
Whether this is feasible is another matter, but is it something to be considered?
• THEN again, putting a logical hat on, perhaps neither club should play the actual first match at the new stadium.
Given new arenas and venues are prone to teething troubles, it would make sense to have some kind of trial run before the big opening day.
Some could suggest staging a reserves game, perhaps, but, for me, it’d be far better to have kids involved.
So how about running a junior or schools football competition or tag rugby tournament on a day to try out the pitch, test the changing facilities, the stands, the ticket operations and all other little things that make match-days go smoothly.
It is a community stadium after all, and not only would this help to avoid potential mishaps on the big opening day, it’d also mean large parts of the community – and future fans and, who know, players of both clubs – could always say they were the first to play at the new ground.
• ON another note, Knights players past and present are to have a get-together at the Cornerhouse pub on Burton Stone Lane next Friday night, from 8pm onwards. The pub is of course run by former York RL favourite Stephen Pryce. All are welcome.
• THE Knights have some hospitality boxes available for the final two home games of the season- against Gateshead on August 10 and the last-ever league game at the current Huntington Stadium against London Skolars on September 7.
For details on these and other sponsorshipopportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the club’s Roland Court office on 01904 767404.
• THE Knights, top of Championship One, had no game last weekend but they stayed in the limelight with a turn on the telly.
The spotlight in particular was on George Elliott and James Haynes, who took on Super League TV’s ‘Drop Goal Challenge’ which aired this week on Premier Sports.
Elliott, who developed his kicking ability while playing rugby union, had to kick as many 30-metre drop goals as possible within 60 seconds, being fed the ball each time from acting-back by Haynes.
Coach Gary Thornton set the pair a target of “16 or 17”, although with the Knights being the first club to take on the challenge, they were looking to simply set a high bar for later competitors.
You can see the clip here www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGqxFEDMW_k&feature=youtu.be
If you don’t want to know how they got on, stop reading now.
They got 15.
The challenge was followed by a comedy interview with the pair.
“Pretty solid,” said Elliott of his score. “As the boys know, I once played fly-half for England Schoolboys, so it was expected really.”
“Yeah we’ve been training all week,” said Haynes. “We played Oldham last weekend in a top-of-the-table clash but we weren’t too bothered about that. It was all about today for us.”
Asked who was the key man – the kicker or the passer – Haynes was quick to respond. “Oh, the passer, the passer,” he said. “You can’t kick without good service can you.”
“I beg to differ,” interrupted Elliott. “It was my skill that got it over... but it was good passing, though, thanks mate.”
Was 15 a good score? “Well, not great, we’ve done better,” said Haynes. “It was better than you,” snapped Elliott. “Yeah it was better than me.” “Fifteen was all right.”
Cue a barrage of balls hitting the pair.
• SEND in your votes for the Knights Player of the Month for July.
This month brought victories at London Skolars and Oxford and the aforementioned thrashing of title rivals Oldham at Huntington Stadium. These results extended the Championship One leaders’ winning run to six games.