Knights unveil 2019 home shirt and squad numbers
By Joe Smith
Thursday night saw York City Knights host their first fans’ forum ahead of the 2019 season with big announcements made, along with the revealing of the club’s new home kit for our return to the Betfred Championship.
The now annual December fans forum was yet again another success, with around 200 fans joining us at our base at York St John University sports campus. Opening the evening, chairman Jon Flatman outlined the club’s progress against the aims put in place when he took control of the club before giving fans an update on the 2021 Rugby League World Cup bid. A York consortium made up of local organisations and fronted by the city council have applied for the city to host one of the competing men’s teams for the duration of the tournament. That would bring benefits to the community with any host club having obligations to their host environment. Furthermore, the city have ambitiously bid to host half of the women’s competition. That would involve half of the teams – if the number of competitors is, as expected, eight – being hosted in the city as well as the tournament matches up to the semi-finals being held in the city. It is expected that announcements of host cities will be made early in the new year.
After an introduction, Flatman introduced Rob Hickey, Executive Director of Innovation and Growth at York St John University, the university having been a key partner in recent years. 2019 will see YSJ take pride of place as the main shirt sponsor, their logo being emblazoned front and centre of the new home shirt of which fans were giving their first view later in the evening. Outlining the reason behind sponsoring the club, Hickey told fans that he felt that the club are a forward-thinking, ambitious organisation like the university and explained that the nature of the teams York will be competing against in the Championship could help attract more students to the university with them keen to attract students from the M62 area as well as up and down the east coast main rail line.
Neil Gulliver, the Knights’ general manager, outlined his hopes to further engage members of the community and discussed his desire to start a physical disability rugby league team and learning disabilities rugby league team. The Knights as a club have many supporters with these challenges in their lives and, while there are other sports clubs in the city for these individuals focussing on football, for example, a PDRL and LDRL team would be huge. Gulliver explained that the RFL are aware of the club’s intentions, so watch this space.
While waiting for James Ford to arrive in the room from training, he was given the perfect warm-up act as Ben Cockayne took the mic and, in his new club role of partnerships manager, passionately outlined his hope that the club can offer exposure and a new audience to potential sponsors while also paying homage to the Knights’ superb and loyal fans. “Without the fans there is no club so thank you,” the former Hull KR man professed. Looking forward to the upcoming season, Cockayne admitted that it will be tough year but believes that the team are training well and will compete with the vast majority of opponents in the division.
Ford’s arrival was shortly followed with the club’s highly-rated head coach revealing the squad numbers for 2019 with new signings Matty Marsh and Liam Salter taking numbers one and three respectively. Local product Matt Chilton takes the number five shirt after an impressive start to life at the club following his July arrival but Ford has explained that the squad numbers don’t necessarily point to a first-choice seventeen at this moment in time. See below for a full run down.
After he spoke, Flatman and Ford addressed fans’ questions ranging from possible fan packages for the Toronto (unlikely) and Toulouse (probable) trips, whether Ford can lure any of the England academy prospects he has recently worked with during their success over the Australian schoolboys as well as questions surrounding the new stadium.
Knights 2019 merchandise is available now from the club office, or on Shambles market this coming Friday, Saturday & Sunday (9am – 5pm), with the new kit available in January.