HEWORTH are planning an application to rejoin the National Conference League next season.

So confirmed head coach Scott Rhodes, who has described the Villagers as a once-great community club which belongs in amateur rugby league's flagship competition alongside cross-city rivals York Acorn.

Rhodes has led his team to top spot in Yorkshire Men's League division one this year and, while it is yet to be confirmed if they will go up as league winners to the premier division or if they need to win the upcoming play-offs, he says it would be immaterial if they are granted a place back in the NCL.

Heworth were founder members of the National Conference in the mid-1980s and won its inaugural championship in 1986-87. However, in 2015, after several years in the doldrums, they quit that comp in a bid to rebuild in the lower-rated YML.

Former York City Knights captain Rhodes,who began his rugby league career as a junior at Heworth, told The Press: "That (the NCL) is where we want to go - it's where I want to go and I think the club will back me on that. I think it's the way forward.

"In the Yorkshire Men's League there are too many teams calling games off if they don't fancy it.

"We've got a good little side here. The (YML) premier division might be a decent standard but if you look at this club, with the junior structure and facilities-wise, we're one of the best in England.

"Heworth are - were - a great club and I think we should be an NCL club again."

Rhodes' class of 2018 have won 15 and drawn one of their 17 league games and sit seven points clear in the table, having scored 570 points and conceded 220.

Rhodes said: "We came together and regrouped and have done fantastically well to win that league.

"We've been the most consistent team over all the rounds and if you look at our points-difference, we're miles ahead."

But he added: "Beating teams by 40 or 50 is great - especially for egos - but we want to move up."

Heworth ironically won the division one leaders' gong by default as last Saturday's scheduled opponents, Skirlaugh 'A', forfeited the game.

The same is happening this coming weekend with Acorn 'A' unable to raise a team due to a player's wedding - although the Blue and Golds had wanted to play it on Friday night.

Added Rhodes: "This is a problem in the Yorkshire Men's League. It's alright saying they want to play on a night but it's a Saturday competition and we're not full strength due to work and players being unavailable."

On that note, Rhodes has also hit back at critics after the Villagers postponed the York & District Cup final against Acorn, which was scheduled for Wednesday, August 22.

The Press understands the final has now been scrapped by the York & District committee - although Heworth were not represented at its recent meeting.

Rhodes says he wants to play the game, be it in October or pre-season next year, but only when they can get their full team out - which is unlikely to be midweek.

"You can't play Wednesday Saturday Wednesday Saturday," he argued. "Lads have to work and, as soon as a few are unavailable, you're screwed.

"We want to test ourselves against Acorn's first team, of course we do. But we want to play them when we're ready.

"Acorn are an NCL division one team. We're little old Heworth. If we're playing their second team then we could probably play a few second-teamers as well. But it's a first-team competition now and, against an NCL one team, we need to be at full strength, otherwise it'd make a mockery of the York & District Cup.

"If we have three or four key men unavailable, that wouldn't be right against an NCL one side. When we're ready, then let the best team win."

He added of the York cup: "I think it should be a pre-season competition on Saturdays anyway, where all your players are fit and you haven't got excuses. There's no Saturday Wednesday Saturday Wednesday."

The Villagers, founded in 1922, won an unprecedented three consecutive Yorkshire League premier division championships from 1982 to 1985, before becoming leading lights in the new NCL.

They also hold the record as the only amateur club to be involved in an all-ticket game, with a 1987-88 Challenge Cup tie against the then holders Halifax drawing an attendance of nearly 5,000.

Heworth won the Yorkshire Cup for the first time in 1993-94, going on to record a treble by also lifting the National Conference League Cup and first division title.

In 1994-95 they were runners-up in the NCL premier division and finalists in the Yorkshire Cup and reached the third round of the Challenge Cup, losing 40-28 at Leigh - scoring at that time the most points ever by an amateur team against professional opposition. They also lost only 22-18 at pro side Bramley the following year.

However, the club endured several years at the wrong end of the NCL's bottom division before dropping into the YML three years ago.

* YORK Acorn face a tough penultimate game in their NCL division one campaign at home to table-toppers Thornhill Trojans - especially with a depleted side due to player Timmy Elliot's wedding.

Acorn 'A', as well as calling off Saturday's game against Heworth, forfeited last night's match at Queensbury due to work commitments combined with an early scheduled kick-off. Their season is now finished.