League Express Championship correspondent GARETH WALKER pays tribute to York City Knights for their promotion of today’s home clash against Toronto Wolfpack
York City Knights deserve considerable credit for the way in which they have promoted this weekend’s clash with Toronto Wolfpack.
The Knights have been getting high profile rugby league stars such as Jamie Peacock, Paul Sculthorpe and Barrie McDermott to film videos encouraging people to attend – and urging supporters to follow suit, with a family ticket to the game to the best one.
Local amateur clubs and past Knights favourites have got behind the campaign, while there was also an official joint press conference staged in the city on Tuesday afternoon.
It completely reinforces a point that has been made in this column before – while Toronto won’t have the travelling support of others at present, the smart opposition clubs will use their visit to create an event, and then reap the rewards.
Others have done the same.
Of the eight League One clubs that have hosted the the Wolfpack to date this season, five of them have recorded their biggest home crowd of the season.
Of the others, Newcastle Thunder would have joined them but for the pre-Magic Weekend fixture that traditionally attracts a bumper attendance in the North East.
The Knights and others are a shining example to those in higher divisions moving forward, as and when Toronto progress up the league ladder.
There will be moans and groans from some clubs no doubt about the perceived lack of away support.
But the shrewd clubs will use the Wolfpack’s visit to their advantage, potentially attracting a host of new supporters that could revisit on a regular basis in the future.
Toronto deserve credit too for their willingness to help opposition clubs.
They have written to over 1,000 UK-based Canadians about the York match, and are bringing significant numbers of their own business contacts to the game.
Their sponsors Air Transat are producing 200 kids’ t-shirts for community clubs in York, and the Canadian UK High Commission is providing a giant maple leaf flag for the game.
If I didn’t have to be at the Salford-Wigan Challenge Cup semi-final at the same time, I’d be driving over to York myself this weekend to take it all in.
If the great Toronto experiment is to work – and as a rugby league supporter I sincerely hope that it does – then the attitude the Knights have taken needs to be replicated in coming years.