York City Knights have secured head coach James Ford to a new contract running until the end of the 2024 season.
In seven years at the helm so far, Ford has taken York out of League One, winning promotion as champions in 2018, to a height of third place in the Championship the following year.
Despite a more disappointing ninth-placed finish in the second tier last season, Ford remains one of the most highly-regarded coaches in the lower divisions, and is now tied down to the Knights for at least another three seasons.
Having first joined the club as a player in 2011, and become its first-ever full-time coach three years ago, Ford is delighted to be continuing his work in North Yorkshire.
He said: “It’s a project that I’m really enjoying and I think that, over the time I’ve been here, the progress the club has made is very clear and evident.
“The thing that excites me the most, however, is the potential of the club. I don’t think we’ve got anywhere close to fulfilling the club’s potential yet which is really exciting.”
After the run to the play-offs in their first season in the Championship, 2021 proved to be a difficult campaign for the Knights, winning only four of their first 13 matches before a late-season recovery.
That came despite heightened expectation on the back of a recruitment drive featuring many experienced Super League players ahead of the campaign, and Ford has acknowledged that strategy as a mistake.
“I think in 2021 we, as a club, signed a lot of players that people would recognise the names of,” he said. “I felt that, at times, the squad lacked a bit of energy and competitiveness.
“I think that we were really comfortable doing the nice things but we didn’t invest as much energy into other areas of the game that I think York have become well known for. I think that had a big impact on our performances.
“I don’t want to make too many excuses about players missing through injury because that’s been well documented but, at times, we weren’t willing to dive on loose balls, to chase people back, we weren’t willing to defend set after set – or maybe we couldn’t.
“As a result, we’ve looked for younger, hungrier, more enthusiastic players who have got a whole heap of drive to continue improving to get to the top of their games.”