A YORK City Knights Excel sponsor has described his "buzz" at seeing the programme's products develop into recognised first-team players.

The youth development programme has brought through youngsters Myles Harrison, Toby Warren, AJ Towse and Brad Ward - all of whom have had game-time for James Ford's side this year.

The Excel set-up does not receive funding from the RFL and is reliant on support from sponsors and supporters to finance it.

Since 2019, York fans Steve Sharp and Dave Darking have donated to the running of Excel and they opened up on their pride at the young quartet's first-team breakthrough.

“It’s a big buzz," said Sharp. "Being part of the Excel programme from the start and seeing the lads from there in the first-team squad three years later is great.

“It’s fantastic to see both the club and the programme growing compared to where it was all those years ago.

"I remember going to Clarence Street when I was a schoolboy, so to remember where it’s come from to seeing where it is now is fantastic.”

As a former player and junior coach at York Acorn, Sharp has been involved in York rugby league for decades.

He believes that the Excel programme, which kicked off in 2022 last month, provides great opportunities in aspiring young players in the city.

“I played rugby in my youth at school and then went to open age," Sharp recalled.

"When I retired at York Acorn, I took up the junior coaching mantle doing under 15s and under 17s.

“I know the importance of getting lads to come down and train, to be positive about things but here, it’s a completely different outlook.

“Compared to going down to the Knavesmire in freezing cold conditions, these players have professional facilities that the Knights are providing and it’s great to see.”