Rugby league legend Bobbie Goulding calls for unity among York clubs in wake of Twitter row (From York Press)
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Rugby league legend Bobbie Goulding calls for unity among York clubs in wake of Twitter row
BOBBIE GOULDING has urged York City Knights and York’s amateur scene to forge greater links to help the game flourish in the city – and has called for them to target Super League.
The 40-year-old Great Britain legend says controversial Twitter comments he made about the Knights were tongue-in-cheek. The real point he had to make was that the game would get stronger in the Minster city if the professional and amateur arenas worked together more.
Widnes-based Goulding, 40, who is currently out of the game, is lined up to be the guest speaker at York Acorn ARLC ’s end-of-season presentation dinner in November.
He told The Press: “I don’t know that much about the issues over there but I know there’s a big divide between York City Knights and York Acorn. Acorn shouldn’t be ignored up there. They’re a thriving amateur club with hundreds of kids involved but from what I hear there doesn’t seem to be any go-between.
“The pro game needs the amateur game, especially vibrant clubs such as Acorn. The amateur game can’t go forward without the pro game, and the pro game can’t go forward without the amateur game.
“I’m not a York boy, I’m a Widnes boy, but we’re a small sport in the north and we need each other.”
Goulding aimed a tweet at the Knights during “twitter banter” saying “wrap the club up”. But he explained: “That was a laugh, nothing else. There wasn’t anything derogatory meant by it. It was a bit of banter with some of them.
“I was at Rochdale Hornets and I know how difficult it is for clubs like the Knights. I know there’s a lot of work going in, but maybe more can be done. Get links between the Knights, York Acorn and Heworth going, or else the game dies.”
Goulding, right, played at scrum-half for St Helens, Wigan, Leeds, Widnes, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Salford, Leigh, Rochdale and Australian side Eastern Suburbs in a glittering career which ended at the Hornets in 2005. He won three titles and played in five Challenge Cup finals, winning four, and was the youngest Great Britain tourist aged 18, going on to win 17 GB caps.
He has since coached Rochdale, twice, and was head coach of the French national team from February 2009 to November 2011. He also coached amateurs Widnes St Maries in the National Conference League before that club folded.
He has recently thrown his hat into the ring for jobs at Oldham, Dewsbury and London as he looks to get back in the pro game.
He added: “York is a big city and a lovely place to go. Rugby league people would love to go to York for the weekend. It’s a great place to go with a lot of things to see and you can round it off with a game of Super League.
“But you’ve got to get links with these clubs first.
“It’s like at Widnes, where the better kids seem to go to Warrington, Wigan or St Helens.
“You’ve got to stop them leaving the town. I would want home-grown talent playing for me, and to do that you’ve got to get the foundations right.”
SCOTT RHODES believes York City Knights need to improve their recruitment process if they want to rise up the Championship.
The York Acorn ARLC coach, a former Knights captain, says the players drafted in have not been up to scratch at that level. He also reckons the youngsters recently promoted to first-team ranks out of amateur and student rugby league had plenty of promise but were not among the best amateurs in the city.
The 32-year-old reckons anyone at the Knights involved in targeting recruits should themselves have playing pedigree and so chairman John Guildford and general manager Ian Wilson, who have not played at a notable standard, should have less input.
He said: “I hope Gary Thornton (incoming head coach) has a big say in the recruitment process. If you’ve played at a good level, you can see techniques and how people play and you can tell what they’re like.
“The Knights have to pick players with good backgrounds – but there are a lot of them floating about in the Championship. It’s about picking the right ones.
“When you’ve got that right, you can maybe slip a young player in. “Tim Stubbs (an Acorn junior who made his Knights debut this month) could be one of them down the line. He can be a very good player in the future. He reminds me of Paul Broadbent (ex-GB prop and Knights player-coach) and how he played. He has a similar game, and all he wants to do is be a pro player.”
However, Rhodes added: “It’s tough for them (the Knights) because these days the young players you need have to come from a Super League background.
“It’s important players have the technique right and are big and strong. Full-time training gives you that background and you get better by being around top players and coaches.”
Asked which local amateurs would strengthen the Knights team, Rhodes conceded: “Hand on heart, I don’t think there’s an amateur in York who’s ready for that level.
“I think the Knights know that the players they’ve brought in aren’t up to Championship standard.
“It’s hard to put York amateurs in there. They could get away with it in the second division (Championship One) – we at Acorn nearly beat Gateshead in the Challenge Cup – but this Championship is a very good standard.”
Claims continue to fly around that there are no good links between the Knights and the local amateur scene. Rhodes himself tweeted that the pro club “used and abused” players, referring to amateurs who sign for the Knights but without making the grade, some of whom are then “lost to rugby league”.
But Rhodes said: “I want to see my young players (at Acorn) go and play pro at York Knights.”
FORMER captain Scott Rhodes has played down a Twitter war of words with York City Knights chairman John Guildford – and says he hopes the Championship strugglers can rediscover their glory days.
The disagreement broke out following tweets by former Great Britain star Bobbie Goulding, who claimed York Acorn ARLC were bigger than the Knights, and that the Huntington Stadium outfit were “draining the pro game” and should “wrap the club up”.
Rhodes, who is now Acorn’s head coach, tweeted that the Knights “used and abused players”, referring to local amateurs who try to make it in the pro game, and said there had been “poor recruitment” at Huntington Stadium and that some recent drafts would “never be Championship pros”.
However, he has described the altercation as “banter”, and stressed he wished the club well.
Rhodes told The Press: “I know John well and we’re friends. I’m no way against the Knights. I want them to do well and be up there with the best of them. I want to watch a game where they’re competing at the top of the Championship.
“I had six good years there and loved every minute. I retired at 28 due to a neck injury but I’d like to think I was one of the better players York have had over the years.”
Rhodes did nevertheless stand by comments he made. “Everyone is entitled to an opinion,” he said.
“They haven’t built the team around anything. They’ve had one, two, three, four, five coaches in the last four or five years. How can you build a team like that?
“I don’t think it’s working as it is. They don’t seem to be building a team. When I was there, there was a foundation. There was me, Craig Forsyth, Alex Godfrey, Mark Cain, Daz Callaghan – it was a good foundation, plus a couple of Aussies, and they built a team.
“They have to keep some players, work with the guys and keep a coach for a couple of seasons.”
Rhodes, a Scotland international half-back, was the club’s longest-serving player before leaving for Dewsbury at the end of 2008, retiring three weeks later due to work and family commitments and an ongoing shoulder/neck problem.
He starred in the so-called peak years of 2004 and 2005, when the Knights reached the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Arriva Trains Cup semi-finals and promotion grand final before storming to the National League Two title. He also played the following year when the Knights were relegated from NL1, now known as the Championship.
Since going back up through the play-offs in 2010, the Knights have again struggled in the higher tier, avoiding relegation by default last year and lying bottom this year, although without the threat of the drop due to a league restructure.
Rhodes said: “It’s obvious they need to bring some quality in and get a good base for the squad. It’s important they get quality players because the Championship is not an easy division. There are no bad teams and every game you need to work hard with no let-up.
“It’s not like Championship One, where you don’t have to play well against some teams and still win. The Championship is a very good standard.”
• THE Press is giving York City Knights full right of reply in forthcoming editions.
Twitter war of words
WHAT Bobbie Goulding tweeted:
• “do u think york acorn is bigger than York knights? I do.”
• “they (Knights) are draining the pro game tell me what they have ever done mate. York acorn vibrant.”
• “no crowds never been never will be people more interested in acorn bread and butter”
• “... load of Tash that they ever got 2,000 in a full season”
• “Acorn better and thereownground (sic)”
• “let’s put acorn game on when York play and see who gets biggest crowd? #acornforme”
• “The pro club should bend over backwards to get him (Rhodes) onside” • “Scott will have a big influence on the kids and will get advice off him”
To @yorkknightsrlfc, Goulding tweeted • “wrap your club up”
• “well it’s caused mayhem some agree some dont”
WHAT Scott Rhodes tweeted:
• “poor recruitment this season,the young players who have come will never be championship pros”
• “thorman poor player at York from what I’ve seen,poor coaching record too”
• “I spent 6 good seasons at the club,It could be run better”
• “arguing with people who have never played the game at any level”
• “I’m RL through and through,I’ve forgot more than some on here know”
• “#steveferris #legend down hill since he left”
• “the chairman and board, whoever that is, wasn’t ready for it (in reply to York City Knights saying club were now in higher division)”
When it was suggested all York amateur teams and the Knights should have a meeting, Rhodes tweeted: • “it wouldn’t work as YorkKnights use and abuse players”
TO Guildford, he tweeted
• “I’m doing better for my club,are you?” • “get the cheque book out and get some players in”.
HE later added to Guildford:
• “meet me for a drink,we got alot of catching up to do” • “im all for yck,had great 6 yrs there #memoriesi’llneverforget”
WHAT John Guildford tweeted:
• “how many games have you attended in last 3 years? I think it’s 2 and none this year.” (to Rhodes) • “are you saying the club went down hill due to getting promotion into a better league? More successful in lower division?” (in reply to Rhodes) • “What’s your definition of better that you refer to? Are acorn back in premier division?”
• “To find a fault is easy, to do better may be difficult.”
• “TEAM = together, everyone, achieves, more.”
WHAT others said:
• “is that true? Now have under 16s, 18s and a reserve side and playing in a higher div” (York City Knights in reply to Rhodes’ comment about the club going down hill)
• “always open to constructive feedback” (York City Knights)
• “do you know both sides of the story, NO” (Knights player, community officer and former local amateur Jack Stearman, to Goulding)
• “y cn’t every1 in this RL city work together and not argue” (Stearman)
• “get York on the rugby map, we have the base but need 2 build (York Lokos ARLC)