Double joy for Knights at RFL awards night!

Published: 25 September, 2019 - 12:30 pm
York City Knights celebrated a unique back-to-back double on Tuesday night, as Rugby League’s Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs celebrated a successful season for both competitions at their annual awards ceremony.
James Ford was named Betfred Championship Coach of the Year, just 12 months after being named coach of the year for League 1. Ford steered York City Knights to an impressive top three finish and a place in the play-offs that few would have predicted at the start of the season. Testimony to Ford’s achievement is that the other nominees were Brian McDermott of grand finalists Toronto Wolfpack and Mark Aston, whose Sheffield Eagles lifted the inaugural AB Sundecks 1895 Cup at Wembley Stadium.
12 months after winning the League 1 Club of the Year gong, York City Knights went on to take the coveted Betfred Championship Club of the Year award after continuing to impress both on and off the pitch following promotion.
Presentations at Manchester’s Hilton Hotel culminated with the player of the year awards for both divisions – a category dominated by the respective champions for each division: Toronto Wolfpack and Whitehaven.
Three Toronto Wolfpack team-mates – Andy Ackers, Gareth O’Brien and Jon Wilkin – were in the running to be crowned Betfred Championship Player of the Year, an accolade bestowed upon outstanding full-back O’Brien. The 27-year old has featured in 26 of Toronto’s 27 fixtures this season, scoring 22 tries and a quarter of the Wolfpack’s entire points in 2019.
Whitehaven’s Dion Aiye held off strong competition from teammate Marc Shackley, Oldham’s Danny Langtree and Nick Newman of Newcastle Thunder to be named Betfred League 1 Player of the Year. The Papua New Guinean playmaker has become something of a cult hero in west Cumbria, inspiring his side to the league title and promotion to the Betfred Championship in 2020.
And Whitehaven’s outstanding season earned the popular Gary Charlton the Betfred League 1 Coach of the Year accolade. Few people gave his side any chance of promotion, yet Whitehaven went on to win 15 of their 20 games to pip Oldham to the title with a win at Coventry Bears on the final day of the regular season. Oldham remain in contention to join Whitehaven in next year’s Betfred Championship and coach Scott Naylor was also nominated, alongside North Wales Crusaders’ Anthony Murray. 2019 Betfred League 1 Club of the Year was the creative and energetic Keighley Cougars.
A Whitehaven treble was completed by Andrew Bulman, who earned the Betfred League 1 Young Player of the Year accolade. The teenage winger, scorer of 17 tries in 2019, was one of five nominees alongside Caine Barnes (Workington), Callum Hazzard (North Wales Crusaders), Jacob Jones (Coventry Bears) and Alex Clegg (Newcastle Thunder).
Swinton Lions’ and former Rochdale Mayfield amateur Matty Ashton capped an extraordinary season with the Betfred Championship Young Player of the Year award. The Warrington Wolves-bound winger grabbed five tries in his final appearance for the Lions, with nominations for Keanan Brand of Widnes and Leigh Centurions’ Joe Cator underlining the quality of the competition.
Foundation of the Year, a category which spans both competitions, is once again Newcastle Thunder – also winners in 2017. Leigh, Halifax and York were also nominated.
Liz Hindley was named FSA Community Champion of the Year, while there were special presentations made to two stalwarts who have announced their retirement: Micky Higham and Oliver Wilkes.
Tickets for the Knights’ own Gala Dinner at York Racecourse on Saturday, October 19th are all available now. Book your tickets today by emailing Zillah Ingledew at or call 01904 876850 for further details!
Awards in full
FSA Community Champion of the Year: Liz Hindley
Foundation of the Year: Newcastle Thunder
League 1 Club of the Year: Keighley Cougars
Championship Club of the Year: York City Knights
League 1 Coach of the Year: Gary Charlton
Championship Coach of the Year: James Ford
League 1 Young Player of the Year: Andrew Bulman
Championship Young Player of the Year: Matty Ashton
League 1 Player of the Year: Deon Aiye
Championship Player of the Year: Gareth O’Brien