IT was a close call but Ed Smith is the latest Press Player of the Month.

The second-row pipped player/assistant-coach Mark Applegarth to the gong, effectively on a toss of a coin after their pair topped the poll of voters.

It could be a crucial result, too, in the race to become The Press Player of the Year, as Smith's three bonus player-of-the-year points for being our top pick for July sees him close in on long-time leader Greg Minikin.

Boss James Ford was unsure which of the two deserved the accolade, and threw in Jonny Presley, Nev Morrison, Jack Aldous and Kriss Brining as other form players. The latter, notably, has scored two hat-tricks off the bench in the last two weeks, including arguably the solo try of the season, but his relatively poor start to the month - being omitted from the Gloucestershire game after a below-par show against Oldham - left him out of the running.

Said Ford of Smith: "I'm really pleased with how he continues to improve, which is down to his attitude and approach to the game and to life in general.

"There's more improvement in him as well and I want him to find that next level.

"I've got great respect for Mash (Applegarth) for what he's done this year. He's doing the same role (player/assistant-coach) I did last year and I understand how difficult the role can be, but his form on the field has not faltered.

"Defensively he's been outstanding and reliable and he works really hard in attack as well."

Smith's three bonus points lifted him to two behind Minikin in the annual leaderboard, although the centre eked it back up to three after gaining one point as our third-best player in last week's win at South Wales Scorpions.

The man-of-the-match that day was Brining (3pts), with Brad Nicholson (2pts) continuing his recent good form.

The Press Player of the Year standings: Minikin 22pts, E Smith 19, Tonks 14, Brining 12, Howden 9, Applegarth 8, Cunningham 8, Nicholson 8, Haynes 7, Aldous 5, Presley 5, P Smith 4, Morrison 4, Clare 4, B Dent 3, A Dent 2, Roche 1, Aspinall 1, Craig 1, Carter 1.

ON THE subject of accolades, the Knights' annual end-of-season awards evening will take place at the Royal York Hotel, the grand place adjacent to the train station, on Friday, October 9, starting at 6.30pm.

The evening doubles up as the main fundraising event for the Knights Foundation charity, and this year it will also include the launch of the "Official York RL Legends".

During the evening, 15 legends will be inducted. They will be chosen based on: outstanding contributions to the game on or off the pitch; character; contribution to the history of York RL; and impact to the game of rugby league in York.

(This is different to the York RL Hall of Fame, which is organised by the Knights Independent Supporters' Society, whose committee, it is fair to say, have had a public falling-out with club chiefs in the upshot of the community stadium saga.)

The evening includes welcome drinks, three-course meal, awards ceremony and dancing into the early hours.

The awards include those for the Coaches' Player of the Year, Most Outstanding Moment, the Players' Player of the Year and, hopefully The Press Player of the Year.

Tickets are priced at £45 per person, with a table of ten costing £450.

To book tickets, phone 01904 767404 or email

There are also sponsorship opportunities for the awards. Phone the above number for details.

All money raised on the evening will go to York City Knights Foundation.

HERE'S a rugby league stat for you that pretty much sums up Kingstone Press League One and shows how it's effectively two leagues in one division.

The tier has now gone no fewer than 57 weeks since a Southern team (generally a team in one of rugby league's expansion areas) beat a Northern team.

It has happened before - as the Knights themselves know having crashed to shock defeats to Oxford and Gloucestershire All Golds last season - but it hasn't happened anywhere for over a year.

The last time? Gloucestershire's 23-16 win at Hunslet Hawks on June 30, 2014.

FORMER Knights player-coach Paul March, now player-boss at Keighley Cougars, celebrated a wonderful career milestone last week.

In the same week that he turned 36, the former Huddersfield and Wakefield playmaker made his 400th professional appearance - which is remarkable going in the modern era.

He celebrated it with a win, too, in front of his family, as Keighley beat Newcastle Thunder 28-10 at Cougar Park on Sunday to go back above York into second in League One.

Considering his job was reportedly under threat at the start of the year after relegation and poor results in pre-season, it's not been too bad a year for him. His team face a big four-pointer tomorrow, though, at leaders Oldham.