Phenomenal Lee to sheer power of TEN

York City Knight's Jack Lee dives over to score a try during the match against Hunslet Hawks.

York City Knight's Jack Lee dives over to score a try during the match against Hunslet Hawks.

First published in Sport
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AFTER all the hullabaloo a couple of weeks ago over captain Jack Lee’s decision to sign for dastardly Hunslet for next season, and then all the pre-match talking points this time last week ahead of York City Knights' big top-of-the-table clash with the Hawks, this column was unable to eulogise over hooker Lee's superb try-scoring run.

Well, we can do it now - as well as confirm, thanks to some cracking information kindly supplied by club statistician Stuart Evans, that the skipper has set a new York RL all-time record.

Talking of records, it is also very possible that the Knights' current winning run of nine games, the latest of which was last Sunday's memorable comeback win, is another all-time York best - unless anyone can inform us otherwise while the stats going back over a century are checked out.

It is certainly a Knights record and the best run for York RL as a whole in living memory.

Lee's try-scoring sequence reached the nice round figure of ten consecutive games against Gloucestershire All Golds earlier this month.

It tops the six both he and Peter Fox achieved in 2010 and 2006 respectively - Fox's run perhaps more notable as it came in the second tier in a team that were to be relegated.

According to Evans's super stats, it also tops the previous York all-time best run of eight consecutive matches as recorded by W Mills way back in 1925-26.

Mills notched 12 tries in those eight games, which all took place between March 13 and April 10 in 1926.

Before that, the record belonged to T Hughes, who touched down in six successive matches (ten tries) from October 24 to November 28, 1903.

Before that, it belonged to J Thackray, who scored in five straight matches (six tries) from October 8 to November 5, 1898. Thackray had also been the first York player to score in back-to-back matches, too, on September 17 and 24, 1898, the year the club switched from rugby union to the Northern Union.

(I did say these records went back a long way.)

Returning to the present day, Lee's ten-match scoring sequence reaped 14 tries in total.

It began back on May 18 in the 31-30 defeat at Oldham, when the 25-year-old bagged a hat-trick to spark a breathtaking comeback which only failed to bring victory thanks to a controversial late home try.

He followed with two in the 40-0 thrashing of Hunslet at Huntington Stadium on May 25, and then one in the 24-22 defeat at Gloucestershire on June 8 - the Knights' last reverse. The hooker notched singles against Gateshead, South Wales, Skolars, Oxford, Oldham and back at Gloucestershire, all punctured by a brace against Hemel.

The Gloucestershire game was on August 3, after which his end-of-season switch to Hunslet became public knowledge.

Since then, of course, Lee has not got back on the score-sheet - though this may well just be coincidence as the player himself had known about it for a few weeks beforehand and continued to rack up the scores.

As Thornton said: "Setting that record, despite knowing he'd be leaving at the end of the season, suggests his form has not altered or dropped."

It's worth noting that had Lee also scored in York's workmanlike victory over Hemel on May 5, his sequence would have stood at 15 matches, as he had also scored in each of the preceding four matches.

Thornton added of his skipper's new record: "It's a nice stat for him to bow out with from a personal point of view.

"He's still got mixed feelings about leaving and he's assured me he will play as well as possible to get us through to the Grand Final and win it."

The nine-match winning record, meanwhile, is one more than Richard Agar's class of 2004 managed as they shot up the then National League Two table and reached the semi-finals of the old Arriva Trains Cup.

Thornton's current crop matched it when they held on to beat Gateshead a fortnight ago and improved it in splendid fashion last week with a victory which all but sealed top spot in Championship One this year.

But Thornton stayed focused on the season's goal of promotion play-off success, reiterating: "We need to extend it to 12 matches as that means we would have won the Grand Final."

 

HERE'S another stat for you (which works on the assumption Oldham won't somehow topple the Knights off top spot this year).

On the last THREE occasions York have lifted a league table-toppers title, they have confirmed their success thanks to victory over Hunslet.

In 2005, of course, the Knights sealed their National League Two triumph with that memorable 24-22 comeback win at South Leeds Stadium.

And then last week, with the Hawks now fierce arch-foes after a few years of intensifying rivalry, they won again on their patch, 20-18, courtesy of those two late tries by James Saltonstall and Colton Roche, to all but seal this season's pole position in Championship One.

Prior to that, when the old club lifted the old Division Two crown in 1980-81, they hammered their south Leeds rivals 53-7 to guarantee themselves the title with two games to spare.

(Just to clarify, while top spot is not yet guaranteed this term, for York to miss out they must fail to pick up a bonus point at home to London Skolars in their last match of term and then see Oldham overturn a points-difference deficit of 161 points in their two remaining games. Which equates to the Skolars winning 13-0 at Huntington Stadium and Oldham beating both Gateshead and Gloucestershire All Golds 74-0.)

 

HERE'S another tit-bit for stats fans.

Lee Paterson is the only player to have played in both of those momentous York wins at South Leeds Stadium in 2005 and 2014, for either side.

He started both matches at loose-forward - having been able to adapt his game in a position which has altered somewhat over the years and is now seen more as a third prop than a ball-playing packman.

It was also Paterson, of course, who kicked the winning goal in the 2005 success, which brought with it not only the title but automatic promotion. (Like James Haynes last week, he was not the regular goal-kicker but had been handed those duties due to team-mates' enforced absences and came up trumps in nerve-racking conditions.)

Just for added coincidence, the Yorkie ace was born in the very same year as his home-town team's previous crown-sealing win over Hunslet in 1981.

 

TALKING of the 2005 title-winning side, it’s probably fair that today we mention one of the stars of that season, Ian Kirke.

Who can forget the second-row’s display and length-of-the-field try in the unbelievable 74-12 demolition of title rivals Dewsbury?

This afternoon, the 32-year-old could well be playing in his fourth Challenge Cup final. His Leeds team lost at Wembley to Warrington in 2010 and 2012 and Wigan in between times, but will it be fourth time lucky this time against the Knights’ partner club, Castleford?

The strapping but amiable Kirke hasn’t half had a superb career since the Knights plucked him out of the Dewsbury ranks and launched him into the top tier almost a decade ago - going on to play in no fewer than five Super League-winning teams, aside his Wembley finals.

He’s not a man to hog headlines but I’d bet there aren’t many, if any, clubs who wouldn’t love to have him in their ranks.

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