The Garry Schofield Column: York City Knights heading on the right path

Garry Schofield pays tribute to the work done at York City Knights by the outgoing Chairman Jon Flatman.

So it’s hello Clint Goodchild, goodbye Jon Flatman at York, although I’d like to think the former chairman isn’t going to be lost to the game after his sale of the club he rescued from closure back in 2016.

The Knights have made amazing progress under his control – both on the pitch, winning promotion from League 1 in 2018 and getting to Wembley in the 1895 Cup last year, and off it, with a move to a smart new ground accompanied by rising attendances, more sponsors and new income streams.

Before Jon’s arrival, there was a spell where York were homeless, but now they are settled at the LNER Community Stadium, which, with its 8,500 capacity, seems to me to be just right in terms of size.

It allows for attendances to increase further, but it’s not so big that it will only be filled on the odd occasion and proves unrealistically expensive to run and maintain.

I think it’s the way clubs like Castleford and Wakefield should go in their ground redevelopments, and Bradford if they are able to rebuild Odsal or switch to an alternative site in the city.

Going back to York, you have to admire how they have grown in an ambitious yet measured way, with the aim of ensuring long-term sustainability.

While the players remain part-time, although that would likely change if they get to Super League at some stage, they made their highly-rated coach James Ford full-time a few years ago.

That was a significant step. It will have helped both in terms of looking after the team and getting him out into the community and developing those all-important links.

Wembley aside, last season proved tough going, but by getting that promotion, then guiding his side to a third-place finish in the Championship in 2019, James has shown he can do the job.

They have recruited impressively, bringing in players who have shown they can operate at the highest level. They should certainly be pushing for a play-off place.

It’s not often I praise Aussies coming over here. Usually they see it as a convenient stop-off to boost their wallets and CVs before going back Down Under, with the excellent Tony Smith being a notable exception.

But I like what I read about Clint Goodchild, who appears to have a good mix of ambition and acumen and be keen to pick up where Jon left off, rather than going boom or bust.

York’s first match in their new ownership era is at home to Featherstone next Monday, January 31, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Championship plays out.

There are some strong sides involved, and after the changes at Rovers and Leigh, two high-profile coaches in Brian McDermott and Adrian Lam.

Like most punters, I’m tipping those two to be going head-to-head in the Million Pound game, with Featherstone finally sealing the Super League status they’ve sought for so long.

Let it not be Wayne

Talking of Aussies coming here, I see Wayne Bennett is trying to manoeuvre himself into contention for a coaching role at the 2025 World Cup, going by his interview in last week’s League Express.

Well let me say here and now – don’t let it be with England.

Will Shaun Wane want to carry on after this Autumn, and will the RFL want him to? I’m not so sure. It’s quite possible we’ll be seeking a replacement.

Realistically, Wayne isn’t going to want to coach the likes of France, who he says he has already turned down “on a couple of occasions”, Wales, Scotland, or even Papua New Guinea, Samoa or Fiji.

He’ll want to oversee one of the only four nations who could win the competition – Australia, New Zealand, England or Tonga.

He has already coached Australia and been an assistant coach for New Zealand. And of course no one will forget his spell in charge of the England and Great Britain teams – and not for positive reasons.

That’s because of both the results (and yes, I know we got the World Cup Final, but we were beaten by one of the most lacklustre Australia sides in memory) and the tedious, dull style of rugby we played.

The World Cup is the biggest opportunity we have to grow the game, so we need to provide some entertainment.

How I see Super League unfolding

Here we go with the second instalment of my Super League predictions.

Having tipped Toulouse to finish bottom, Salford eleventh and Wakefield tenth, the three above will be…


All coaches are under pressure to get results, but it’s particularly true of Ian Watson, especially given those claims on his appointment of them being a top-four club in waiting.

He’s got to hit the ground running, because if the Giants haven’t found some consistency ten games in, patience will surely be wearing thin.

Watto has had a season to settle in, so I don’t want to hear any more talk of creating structures and establishing processes.

And he’s had the chance to mould his own squad, although I’m not totally convinced by the signings.

I’m also scratching my head over his decision to move such a talented young English halfback as Will Pryce to fullback and go with the inconsistent Tui Lolohea and Theo Fages, who is used to playing behind one of the best packs going at St Helens but won’t have that luxury at Huddersfield.


There’s been a lot of change down the Lane, and how Lee Radford approaches the task of satisfying the ‘Classy Cas’ fans who demand rugby that provides excitement as well as points could dictate how his reign goes.

They certainly won’t want to see their side performing in the style of Hull in the latter stages of Radders’ time there, and to be fair, he’s acknowledged the need to play an attractive style of rugby.

Jake Mamo could prove a useful acquisition, but with those big wingers in the squad, I still fear we could see a tendency to kick high at the end of the tackle count.

As with Huddersfield, I’m not sure about the halfbacks, Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson, and both need to show some of the flair which got us excited about them a few years ago.


Over in the port city, Brett Hodgson is in the same boat as Ian Watson, since the honeymoon is over.

The second half of last season proved to be a long old haul for all concerned. Like Huddersfield, Hull can’t afford a sluggish start.  

Owner Adam Pearson and the Black and White faithful will be demanding a big improvement. There’s a lot riding on Luke Gale, who will hopefully stay fit throughout the campaign, and Josh Reynolds.

As with all clubs, consistency is the key. I think Hull will be okay at home but could suffer from travel sickness.

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