York City Knights reporter PETER MARTINI reviews the reign of Dave Woods.

DAVE WOODS arrived at York City Knights as director of rugby in April 2010.

The club said the appointment of the Australian – who began his coaching career on the backroom staff at Penrith Panthers, and in his first two roles in England took Castleford up to Super League in 2005 and minnows Gateshead to the Championship One title in 2008 – did not undermine the position of the then head coach James Ratcliffe.

Woods, who had been working as Great Britain Community Lions Under-18s coach after being controversially sacked by Gateshead, was to oversee player development, player recruitment, the playing budget and coaching development at Huntington Stadium, as well as team selection in consultation with the coaching staff.

Two months later, Ratcliffe was sacked and Woods was quickly named as head coach, becoming the Knights’ sixth boss since the new club’s inaugural season in 2003. He stayed part-time.

The Knights were fifth in Championship One at the time after seven wins and six losses in the league.

They beat Gateshead 60-12 in Woods’ first game in charge and went on to finish the regular season in third – it would have been fourth but for a points-deduction for Blackpool – and thus qualified for the qualification semi-final in the play-offs.

Woods’ men lost at Oldham in that game but beat Blackpool in the elimination semi-final to set up a grand final rematch against the Roughyeds.

The Knights then shocked Oldham 25-4 at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium to achieve a second promotion for the club, the first having come under Mick Cook in 2005.

Cook had been unable to keep the Knights in the higher tier in 2006 and Woods’ goal for 2011 was to consolidate in that division – which he did by default.

Two teams were to be relegated this year but Toulouse, who finished bottom, were exempt from demotion, and the Knights finished in the drop zone, third from bottom, after defeat at Sheffield on September 4 – despite winning more games than Hunslet, who were fourth-bottom.

The club, however, were given a reprieve after Crusaders, with a new set-up, were not allowed into the Championship following their withdrawal from Super League. This news came through on Friday night, ahead of the Knights’ end-of-season awards ceremony, which Woods attended.

Woods had agreed a new two-year contract with the Knights on August 2, apparently putting an end to speculation about his future.

However, the Knights, in their press release, say this was a two-month rolling agreement for a two-year period, which enabled either party to end the agreement within this time frame.

The club say part of the reason for his departure was problems associated with travelling, given Woods’ family home remains in Gateshead. However, he ran – and still runs – the Cross Keys pub on Tadcaster Road, York, having previously taken the Fox & Hounds in nearby Copmanthorpe following his appointment by the Knights, allowing him to stay in the city.

He had been touted for the vacant coaching role at Halifax, which went to Batley’s Karl Harrison, and he has more recently been linked with the top jobs at Leigh, who are currently under the threat of liquidation, and Whitehaven. However, he told The Press he was happy at York.

Woods, who has been at St Helens in the last couple of weeks, getting coaching tips from the Super League club, was told by email on Wednesday night that his contract was to be terminated, and the club made the announcement yesterday. Chris Thorman, his player/assistant-coach, was named his successor within hours.

The Knights won seven games and lost three under Woods in Championship One, including two wins and a defeat in the play-off matches, and this year they won one, drew one and lost two in the Northern Rail Cup, won one and lost one in the Challenge Cup – including a record-breaking 132-0 rout against Northumbria University – and won five, drew one and lost 14 in the Championship.

Woods’ York record in total reads won 14, drew two and lost 20.