IF all the off-field carry-on at York City Knights this year has been hard on the first-team squad, spare a thought or two for the reserves.

For those poor lads, it all came to a head on Thursday when the Rugby Football League effectively booted the homeless club out of the Reserve Championship.

It had nothing to do with the players, of course, whose hopes have effectively been screwed up and whose hard work on the training field over the past six months or so - when they’ve been able to train, that is - has been rewarded with pretty much a kick in the teeth.

It is just the latest annoying consequence of the tiresome community stadium saga and the increasingly protracted talks between club directors and City of York Council. Since both parties said last month that an agreement was close, there has been nothing further - until this.

Unsurprisingly it has led to more calls from a growing number of fans for club chief John Guildford to step aside, given they blame him for the club’s off-field strife, even if he is no longer involved in negotiations. Others are demanding the council come out and say exactly what is going on and why.

It was a pretty hard-hitting statement from the RFL, not only expelling the club from reserve competition after they fulfilled only one of seven fixtures but also banning them from coming back in 2016. The last sentence about the Knights needing to pay opposition clubs for costs incurred is possibly even more worrying as regards their financial health.

There has been no statement from the Knights themselves, and therefore nobody to answer whether they failed to fulfil fixtures because they would not or could not pay the match costs, but it is easy to assume the sorry situation has come about as a direct consequence of the stadium saga and its impact on finances.

Injuries in the ranks was an excuse used for one away match but there has been little official explanation for others. The lack of home facilities due to homelessness can only account for home games of course.

Head coach James Ford has instead fronted the questions, as manfully and diplomatically as ever.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” he said, clearly feeling for the youngsters who have had to pack up their boots.

“Looking long-term, it’s something we will need to reassess over the closed season. We need that supply of good young players, good home-grown players. We will be looking to do something once we’ve got the facilities the club need to run a proper development pathway.”

Ford was hopeful that the reserve lads who were released by the club on Wednesday night will now at least be able to get some game-time, assuming they sign for amateur clubs.

“The positive thing is we will be encouraging the players to go into the community game, hopefully strengthening those teams in and around York,” he said.

“We can still monitor their progress. Obviously none of this has been ideal for the young players who have invested a lot of time and effort in their rugby this year. When we’ve run against each other (first-team v reserves matches in training) they’ve shown signs they're improving, but there just hasn’t been enough games to demonstrate that.”

To give a little perspective, there are plenty of other clubs at York’s level who do not have reserve teams due to the costs of running them.

The Knights, though, have always tried to have a pathway for local players, be it the old scholarship, under-18s, U20s or reserves. Ford himself coached at those levels before being installed as first-team boss and knows their value.

He added: “If we’d had the facilities we thought we were going to have, we’d be running all sorts of development teams but we can’t do that at the moment. It’s something we would want to go forward with in the future on the assumption things can get sorted off the field.”


HEAD coach James Ford’s desire to build links between the Knights and the community game in York was pretty evident this week as the team had a training session with New Earswick All Blacks ARLC under-14s.

The worthiness of the exercise has been overshadowed by the sorry news about the reserves but it shows Ford and his players are still torchbearers for the pro club.

The young All Blacks joined in training with the Knights, with mixed teams then playing a match.

The U14s team sponsor Knights captain Pat Smith and the session came about after they asked if he could get the team down there.

Ford said: “It’s good for my players to do this kind of thing and most importantly the young lads enjoyed themselves running around with the York City Knights. They gave a fair account of themselves as well.”

He added: “It’s an important part of growing the club, working hand in hand with community clubs. It’s something we’d like to do with other teams if and when possible.”

Andy Osborne, one of the All Blacks U14s coaches, whose son, Finlay, plays for the team, said: “All the lads really enjoyed it. It was great exercise for them and to meet the York Knights and train and play with them was brilliant.”


JONNY PRESLEY was the main mover in The Press Player of the Year standings this week after his man-of-the-match rating in last Sunday's win over London Skolars - but Greg Minikin is the big winner.

Presley picked up the maximum three points and jumps several places but Minikin was deemed our second best player and the two points that gleans increases his lead at the top of the standings to five over Josh Tonks.

Ed Smith, another of this year's form players, was deemed the third-best and gets the remaining one point.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Minikin 19pts, Tonks 14, E Smith 11, Cunningham 8, Brining 6, Presley 5, Haynes 5, Applegarth 5, P Smith 4, B Dent 3, Howden 3, Nicholson 3, A Dent 2, Aldous 2, Roche 1, Morrison 1, Aspinall 1, Craig 1, Carter 1, Clare 1.


FORMER Knights favourite Danny Brough is inching ever closer to his try-scoring milestone - the Huddersfield half-back now needing one try to reach a career century.

His most prolific period, though, remains his time at York in 2003-04 when he bagged 20 touchdowns while simultaneously setting new York RL records for points and goals scored.


MEANWHILE, the Knights' Independent Supporters' Society are organising their annual Wembley Weekend for fans heading to the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final.

The trip, from August 28 to 30, includes transport to and from York, two nights' bed and breakfast at the Holiday Inn, Chingford, the option of a going to London Skolars' "Friday Night Lights" League One match against North Wales Crusaders, and an evening at Romford Greyhound Stadium on the Saturday night following the cup final.

The price is £180 per person based on two adults sharing a room. Single room supplements are £20 per night. For children under 16 sharing a parents' room, the cost is £40.

Anyone interested is asked to contact KISS chairman Gary Hall via Facebook.