JAMES FORD reckons he can take York City Knights forward “quite some distance” - if and when the club get sorted off the field.

He also insists he has never once contemplated quitting amid the turmoil that has rendered the team homeless all year, and says the club remains an attractive proposition for players, thanks to their brand of rugby league and their potential - as highlighted by Huddersfield prop Micky Learmonth’s signing on a permanent basis.

The Knights have jumped to fourth in Kingstone Press League One after three straight wins, the latest being the 70-10 thrashing of Hemel Stags, a record home defeat for the Hertfordshire club.

However, they remain without a ground or training base, and hopes last month of an imminent agreement with City of York Council which would get the club back into the community stadium project have yet to materialise. Tomorrow’s match against promotion rivals Swinton will be the second to be played at Heworth ARLC’s Elmpark Way.

Ford, in his maiden season as head coach, admits the strife is affecting the team but has regularly praised his players for overcoming obstacles and he remains optimistic a resolution can be found - which would act as a huge fillip both short and long-term.

“If we get things right off the field, I really believe I can take this club forward quite some distance,” he said.

“I think people believe that sooner rather than later we can find a solution off the field to enable us to start moving forward.

“It’s frustrating for everybody. The supporters have had to be patient. They want to see the club moving forward - we all do.

“We could be one of the best supported clubs outside Super League and maybe the top four in the Championship, which shows how loyal, passionate and dedicated York’s supporters are.

“If we can get into a position where we can all start to pull in the same direction, the club can move forward at a rate of knots.”

The Knights have played home games at York RUFC’s Clifton Park and Featherstone Rovers’ Post Office Road this season, as well as Elmpark Way.

Attendances have unsurprisingly dropped, with a Knights record low crowd watching the game against South Wales at Post Office Road just over a month ago.

Major shareholder John Guildford, who fell out with the council over stadium talks, has been blamed for the club’s current plight by many fans. Others point fingers at the council.

A recent knock-on effect of the saga saw the reserves fold after being expelled from the Reserve Championship for failing to fulfil fixtures, and, while talks between a relatively new board of directors - not including Guildford - and the council are ongoing, they are becoming increasingly protracted.

Club chiefs have attracted extra criticism for announcing venues only days before games.

Throughout the turmoil, Ford has hailed his players for sticking together and says the fact they are in the play-off mix and have played an attractive brand to boot deserves praise and support.

Asked if the unrest had affected his own morale, Ford said: “I’m very fortunate to have a head coach role at 32. I understood it would be difficult and I was prepared for the work in front of me.

“I didn’t realise maybe it would be this difficult, but I like to think I’ve got good character, similar to the players.

“I made assurances I would take the club forward regardless of barriers we face and I want to make sure I leave no stone unturned in the quest to do so.”

Ford has also been able to attract new players to the squad in recent weeks, not least Jordan Howden on a long-term dual-registration loan from Castleford, and Cas first-teamers James Clare and Michael Channing on dual-reg. Learmonth also returned on loan after injury last week and, after organising his release from Huddersfield, signed a new deal to stay.

Lee Waterman and Scott Glassell have both been and gone, though, even if their departures had nothing to do with the turmoil.

Asked if he was concerned the off-field situation would discourage other players from coming, or even force people out, Ford said: “With the way we’re set up to play, both defensively and offensively, we’re winning friends - it’s nice to be stopped in the street by people commenting on how we play the game.

“It’s an attractive brand and people want to be part of that brand of rugby league.

“People can also see the potential at this club.

“I think all that contributes to players wanting to come here.”


JORDAN HOWDEN’S influence on the York City Knights team was highlighted this week with his man-of-the-match performance against Hemel Stags and his quick rise up The Press Player of the Year standings.

Howden, pictured inset, whose two early tries set York on their way to the 70-10 rout of the Hertfordshire strugglers, picked up three Player of the Year points for that performance to jump into mid-table in the leaderboard just a month into his dual-reg spell at the club.

Man of the moment Greg Minikin increased his lead at the top, though, being deemed our second-best player on the day to collect two points.

There has been no confirmation yet from Castleford that the 20-year-old is to join Howden at the Tigers on a two-year full-time deal at the end of this season but there won’t be many York fans who would begrudge him a shot at Super League given his high-quality displays throughout 2015.

Several players could have picked up Player of the Year points but the remainder has to go to Kriss Brining, who marked his return from injury with a hat-trick.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Minikin 21pts, Tonks 14, E Smith 11, Cunningham 8, Brining 7, Howden 6, Presley 5, Haynes 5, Applegarth 5, P Smith 4, B Dent 3, Nicholson 3, A Dent 2, Aldous 2, Roche 1, Morrison 1, Aspinall 1, Craig 1, Carter 1, Clare 1.


GET your Player of the Month votes in before next Wednesday by emailing peter.martini@thepress.co.uk.

June has so far been a good month for James Ford’s men, taking in victories over the then leaders Rochdale, London Skolars and Hemel Stags, ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Swinton Lions.

Whoever tops the poll wins three bonus points for his The Press Player of the Year tally.


THE Knights had two players jump into the top five in League One scoring charts after last week’s thumping of Hemel.

Greg Minikin is equal fourth in the try-scoring table with ten, two behind front-runner Paul White, of league leaders Keighley.

Ben Dent sits fifth in the point-scoring ranks with 90 and is also equal fifth in the goal charts with 33 - despite being a bit inconsistent with the boot.

Meanwhile, Kriss Brining is in the running to finish top of the Challenge Cup try-scoring charts this year. He was clear at the summit of the leaderboard with six, ahead of this weekend’s quarter-final ties.