Championship surprise package of the season: York City Knights

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Background

Just a few short years ago, York City Knights faced the very real threat of liquidation, and at one stage, they looked like they would close their doors for good as their deadline loomed large.

However, they completed a takeover just in the nick of time and were able to move forward in League One ahead of the 2017 season.

Fast forward 12 months, and the Knights had beaten off Bradford Bulls to earn promotion to the Championship as the league leaders.

Coming into 2019, they signed some young players with potential from both Championship and Super League clubs.

This included Matty Marsh and Liam Salter from Hull KR, Jack Teanby from Dewsbury Rams, Jason Bass from Coventry Bears, Marcus Stock from Hemel Stags and Ross Osborne from Hull FC.

The season that exceeded expectations

After an early defeat against Toronto Wolfpack, the Knights then won their next seven straight matches, including all of their away games. Their next defeat would come on Easter Monday at home against Sheffield Eagles.

They lost four of their next six games, including at the Summer Bash at Featherstone Rovers, but the incredibly close season in the Championship meant the Knights were still in a good position to qualify for the playoffs.

After a close defeat against Toulouse, the Knights then went on an unbeaten run lasting seven matches that saw them all but confirm their place. A second defeat against Wolfpack had cast some doubt, but  then three straight victories confirmed their place in the playoffs.

For their first year back in the Championship, surely their first objective would have been to survive, but to make the playoffs was really quite something, and all of a sudden, they were just two games away from the Super League.

However, the dream wouldn’t get the fairy tale ending it deserved as heavy defeats against Toulouse and Featherstone saw that they would remain in the Championship in 2020.

What next for the Knights?

The recruitment drive has already started for 2020 with some youth coming in to add to that experience needed to go with the young players they have in their squad.

Both Danny Washbrook and Chris Clarkson have signed from Super League teams, Hull FC and Hull KR respectively. They have also added Championship experience with Will Sharp coming in from Halifax and James Green has signed from Bradford Bulls.

So with this balance, there is no reason why the Knights could maintain their position and challenge for the Super League again in 2020.

 

 

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