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James Ford plots captain’s log of success with Knights during 2013
JAMES FORD is hoping a fresh start and clean slate will see York City Knights go into 2013 with renewed vigour – as well as end the “disappointing” current campaign in positive fashion.
Ford’s own season could well be over due to the ankle ligament damage he suffered in Sunday’s defeat at Keighley, the Knights’ 12th defeat in 13 Championship games.
But The Press can reveal the 29-year-old club captain will be staying at Huntington Stadium next year after signing a new deal which also sees him continue as head coach of the under-18s – who have provided most of the club’s plus points this term.
And, while he concedes this season has been one to forget, the centre says the arrival of a new coach in Gary Thornton, who replaces Huddersfield-bound Chris Thorman this autumn, plus the fact there is a new community stadium in the pipeline, means exciting times are ahead.
“I’m massively looking forward to next season,” said Ford, who still hopes to have recovered to feature in the last one or two of the Knights’ five remaining games this year.
“Everyone at the club knows we’ve not achieved what we set out to achieve this year but sometimes starting afresh can be a big positive.
“There’ll be a new coach and new players and everyone gets a clean slate, and hopefully it will all inspire people to perform more consistently.
“I played against Gary Thornton’s teams when he was coach at Batley and they were decent sides.
“Hopefully it will be a positive for us.”
Ford, who had interest from regular play-off contenders Halifax and Sheffield a year ago, added: “I’m coming to the back end of my career. I’ve not won anything as a player yet so there was the question of whether I want to play for one of the top four clubs or stay and try to lift York City Knights into that bracket.
“I think there are exciting times ahead for York. There are plans for a new training base and I’ve had a chat with the club about recruitment.
“Things don’t always go to plan but we’ve got plans that are pretty exciting and if any of the things we’ve talked about come off it will be a good place to be.”
Asked if he could even run out in the new stadium, Ford – whose injury woes over the past few seasons had abated this year, prior to Sunday – said: “It depends how long it takes to build.
“I’m 29 now but I think this is the first time in three or four years that I’ve played 20 or so games in a year and if I can keep that going I see no reason why not.
“If my form deteriorates or my body deteriorates, I’ll know when to call it a day.”
The Knights currently lie second bottom of the table and, although there is no relegation this year due to a league restructuring, Ford said of the campaign to date: “It’s been really disappointing.
“We set targets at the start of the year and we’re well down from those.
“It’s been difficult for Chris with the injuries, with players leaving and the dual-registration issues and with others under-performing.
“A lot of people don’t look at dual-reg too favourably. I’m not too sure it works that well for clubs like us, although it should do in theory.
“It is a boost when someone like Chris Green turns up from Hull but then when you haven’t got him it has the opposite effect. The likes of Chris and Danny Nicklas are two quality players but then they get recalled and we’re left scratching around. Even I played a bit at stand-off this year. Chris (Thorman) has been unfortunate with it all.”
As for retaining the captaincy in 2013, Ford said he had relished having the armband but added: “Gary Thornton might have different ideas and I will leave that up to the new coach.”
• An inexperienced Knights reserves side go to Keighley tonight (8pm).
York are set to feature four players from the under-18s in eyecatching hooker Harry Carter, who has signed pro terms for next season, Ash Haynes, Tim Stubbs and Luke Tomlinson, and several others not much older.
Of the provisional 17, only Rhys Clarke and Brett Turner have turned out much for the first team this year.
Knights reserves (TBC): Dent, A Haynes, Poutney, Craig, Law, Hannigan, Turner, Stearman, Carter, Howard, Bridges, Clarke, Stubbs, Tomlinson, Thorpe, Mann, Whitfield.