IT wasn’t all that long ago that York City Knights fans were talking about the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs. Seven games without a win later, and it’s all doom, gloom, doomier gloom and gloomier doom.
Well, aside from the occasional slice of gallows humour, that is. Those welcome snippets of dry mirth that put a different perspective on things. And, while by definition we cannot ignore the despondency and dejection, it is these tit-bits of self-deprecating wit and waggishness to which this column today pays tribute.
Y’know, those throwaway comments that are met with a titter, a chortle, a snort or even sarcastic withering look. Those comments or even chants on the terraces that make sport, and being a fan, simply brilliant, even in times of woe.
Firstly, the dejection. The pessimistic talk on social media and messageboards in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s defeat to Swinton actually went beyond relegation and considered the club’s very existence should they go down into the new-look Championship One, labelled by some rugby league cynics as the “cemetery league”, full of poorly supported expansion clubs up and down the country.
The cut in revenue that goes with it, allied to the expensive court case against former boss Dave Woods – an exact figure on which is yet to be confirmed but will run into tens of thousands – has left some York supporters wondering what will happen.
Well, the good news on that score is there has been little sign of the club folding either by necessity or choice.
Media manager Gavin Wilson has previously stressed via Twitter there is no suggestion of that happening, and outgoing general manager Ian Wilson – although he’d said he “did not know” what would happen in the immediate wake of the court case – reiterated yesterday he was aware of no such dismal talk in-house.
Indeed, the fact the club are signing players and have sponsors on board for next season provides evidence that such rumour should be nipped in the bud.
Nevertheless, a quick look at internet posts by the Huntington Stadium faithful shows the fans’ current state of mind.
Words like “grim”, “pathetic”, “apathetic”,”dreadful”, and the killer phrase that is like a dagger through hearts, “no desire”, abound.
And the general consensus? “That is us down.” “Down and possibly out.”
However, in among all this have been a few perkier posts, and these are the ones to which this column pays homage.
“Best years and crowds the club has ever had have been in the third tier of RL,” said one fan, looking through the dark clouds for the silver lining.
Then comes the aforementioned dry wit that in many ways makes watching a losing team all worthwhile.
“Look on the bright side, we could win away from home next season,” said one messageboard wag, with regards to the Knights’ 26-month wait for a victory on the road.
“Far far away from home, looking at that league,” came a response.
“You’re being a bit optimistic there,” came another.
“Sorry, I’ve been drinking.”
Brilliant. It’s enough to make you want to pay your money to watch your team lose.
This typically British, perhaps even Northern, brand of dark humour is all summed up by another poster – be it intentionally or otherwise.
“I’m resigned to the fact that we’re going down,” they wrote. “If we do manage to stay up at least I can be happy about something.”
STILL with gallows humour, it has been said the Knights are perhaps targeting a “tactical relegation” this year given that we still don’t know how the upcoming rugby league restructure will change matters.
There is talk that as many as seven clubs could be relegated from the Championship next year under the restructuring (details of which are two long-winded to go into here).
As such, so goes the argument, the Knights could have a better chance of winning promotion from Championship One in 2014 than avoiding the bottom seven in the Championship.
One thing is for sure, though, there will be no reprieve this year like in the last two, when the Knights avoided relegation by default.
THERE was a mention above of Ian Wilson, the Knights’ general manager. As reported by this column, he leaves the club on Tuesday to take up a post in education in Harrogate, nearer to his new home.
He had his leaving do last night and it was just a shame it couldn’t have come 24 hours after a win. Still, here’s hoping it was a good night and the head isn’t too bad today.
I suspect many people don’t quite know how much work he has done for the Knights since arriving as community development officer in late 2004.
On a personal note, cheers, Ian, for your help with all things media related, not least the occasional awkward question that, given the nature of the job, came from this direction.
JACK LEE and Sam Scott were the big shakers in The Press Player of the Year competition this week – though Matty Nicholson’s place on the leaderboard perhaps says more than anything.
Second-row Scott became the outright leader thanks to the three player of the year points he garnered by being man of the match against Sheffield last Sunday.
Lee, meanwhile, climbed into joint-second after being deemed our second-best player that day (2pts) and again against Swinton on Thursday night (2pts).
However, Nicholson’s rise into fifth place following his man-of-the-match show against the Lions (3pts) on his long-awaited return to action catches the eye most – leaving the prop still in with a chance of taking the crown despite missing four months of the season through injury. If nothing else it shows what a big loss he’s been.
Our third-best player against Sheffield was July Player of the Month Dougie Flockhart (1pt) – who unfortunately had a bit of a stinker at Swinton – and against the Lions it was Ben Johnston (1pt).
The Press Player of the Year standings: Scott 18pts, Lee 15, Sullivan 15, Presley 15, Carr 12, Nicholson 11, Aldous 10, Brown 8, Ford 8, Flockhart 8, J Latus 7, Briscoe 6, Johnston 6, Freer 4, Hadley 3, Lineham 3, Lyons 3, Elliott 3, Mallinder 3, Pickets 3, Brining 2, Smith 2, Golden 2, Bowden 2, Dent 2, Potter 1, Kent 1, Stenchion 1.
Waiting game for under-20s
YORK City Knights are still waiting to hear if they are to be given the win for Wednesday night’s Under-20s Championship match against Rochdale, which was called off at late notice as the Lancashire outfit could not raise a team.
The call-off – with no chance of a rearrangement – affects the Knights’ play-off hopes as placings in this league are determined by win percentages. If the game is recorded as “not played” rather than forfeited to York, their percentage goes down, offering rivals Leigh Centurions a chance of leapfrogging them in the table.
James Ford’s young-guns complete their fixtures at Oldham on Friday, while Leigh face Featherstone in their final match.
Basic maths would suggest a win for York would still see them finish third but defeat would see it go down to the calculator and what the RFL decide to do about Wednesday’s fixture.
Meanwhile, Featherstone beat Salford on Thursday night in the potential top-of-the-table decider – it was incorrectly reported this game was being called off too. This means York, should they finish third, would go to Salford in the three-team play-offs for the right to meet Rovers in the final.