Quartet of friendlies to kick-start York City Knights’ new era

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YORK City Knights are bringing back the pre-season fixture against a York Select XIII – and again it will be in aid of a local cause.

The Knights have announced a pre-season programme of four matches, which kicks off with this charity game prior to friendlies against Championship One side North Wales Crusaders, Championship arch-rivals Hunslet and partnership Super League club Hull FC.

The first encounter against a local representative outfit made up chiefly of players from the city’s amateur ranks was in January 2008, when Paul March’s side featuring mainly youngsters drew 22-22 with a select team coached by current Knights number two Mick Ramsden. That game was in honour of Lee McTigue, the former York Acorn amateur and Knights squad member who had recently died of cancer aged 29.

There followed a 22-20 Knights win in the 2009 Lee McTigue Memorial Match, thanks to two late tries, and a 16-6 Select win in the snow ahead of the build-up to the 2010 season.

The 2011 encounter had to be cancelled because of prolonged wintry weather, and there was no such fixture in 2012, but the charity all-York clash is to be brought back this coming January with proceeds going to Boxing Bowel Cancer.Boxing Bowel Cancer is a fund set up in aid of young Dringhouses-based mum Christine Sterry, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sterry, a teacher at Carr Infant School, is the fiancée of Acorn prop forward Nic Caldwell, who will be one of the managers of the 2013 Select team.

Knights chairman John Guildford was only too happy to reintroduce the fixture, saying it was a “fantastic cause”.

“We know about the Boxing Bowel Cancer charity which has been set up in Christine’s name and we are delighted to be able to help in this way,” he said.

“The fixtures against the Select XIII were also good for the local game and they got a lot of people talking, and the amateur players have always given our lads a really good first hit-out. Hopefully lots of rugby league fans in the city will turn out on the day to support the players and of course Christine and the Boxing Bowel Cancer fund.”

That game will take place at Huntington Stadium on Sunday, January 6, with a flat admission price of £10 for adults and £3 for under-16s.

The three ensuing friendlies take place on the following Sundays, January 13, 20 and 27, against North Wales, Hunslet and Hull respectively. Admission rates for these are £14 for adults, £10 for concessions and £3 for U16s. Fans who purchase 2013 season tickets also have an option to buy a “pre-season ticket” for £30, which covers all four friendlies at an average of £7.50 per game.

Gate receipts against North Wales and Hunslet will be shared; against Hull they will stay with the Knights.

Guildford said: “North Wales came forward and we agreed that fixture. It will be a good hit-out in the build-up to the season.

“The Hunslet game is a nice juicy one. There will be some bragging rights and a bit of fun but, more importantly, it’s a good one to get us ready for the Championship.

“We’re expecting a good Super League team to come from Hull and they could have some big new signings out. It should be a good crowd for that one.”

The annual Paul Higgins Memorial Match against Castleford Tigers, which for the past four years has been staged in memory of the former Cas player and development chief at both the Tigers and York, will not be played this year. The Knights requested the fixture but the Super League club could not comply.

This is partly down to the fact Super League set-ups now have U19s academy sides rather U20s reserves and club chiefs are wary of mismatches featuring either teenage teams against open age Championship teams, or Championship teams against full Super League sides.

Hull are expected to bring six to eight first-choice players to Huntington Stadium, with the rest of the match-day squad made up of fringe players, including some who may end up wearing Knights colours in 2013 as part of dual-registration arrangements.

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