My Set of Six: with York media manager Gavin Wilson featuring Gareth Ellis & expansion

Drew Darbyshire

In our new feature, we’re asking you, the fans, plus players, coaches and other rugby league personalities to give us their answers to our set of six questions.

York City Knights media manager Gavin Wilson is our latest guest on My Set of Six…

Favourite away ground?

My favourite away ground would have to be the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster. The facilities there are first class, and you always get the warmest of welcomes from their chief executive Carl Hall. Their fans are always on form too, and can be great fun sat with them as a York fan. An honourable mention goes to the beer garden at Batley too!

Favourite player?

My favourite player growing up was my uncle Brendan Carlyle (York, Hull FC, Scarborough & Doncaster) as I used to watch him play every week in the early 90s and is the reason why I love rugby league. Away from family bias though, my favourite player has to be Gareth Ellis. He is an ultimate professional who has succeeded on both sides of the world. He always put the hard work in to back up his immense talent, which is why he has enjoyed such a prolonged career (he started out at York too!).

Favourite memory?

Photo courtesy of Craig Hawkhead

My favourite memory is a fairly recent one, watching York beat Bradford at Odsal Stadium in July 2018. It was a gloriously sunny day with more than 6,000 watching a third division game (including more than 1,000 travelling York fans). The Knights burst out of the blocks and raced into a 24-0 lead in the first half before the Bulls got right back into it. With York under pressure, Australian Jake Butler-Fleming caught a cross-field kick, beat two would-be tacklers and sent Judah Mazive racing away to score the winning try. That afternoon was the first time that year that I believed we would go on to win League 1, and we did – losing just two games all year.

Worst memory?

That would be the 2004 National League 1 qualifying final between York and Halifax at Widnes. Richard Agar’s York had been in scintillating form in the NL2 all year, led by a young Danny Brough who had scored more than 400 points alone, but needed to beat Halifax to take their place in NL1 for 2005. The Knights were well in control, leading 30-16 with little over ten minutes remaining, when a controversial try (he never grounded it – we was robbed!) from Fax centre Alan Hadcroft launched a sickening comeback, with a baby-faced Scott Grix scoring the winning try in the last minute to deny us relegation. I cried.

Best match you’ve seen (not involving your club)?

The 2013 World Cup semi-final between England and New Zealand at Wembley. I somehow ended up sat in the Royal Box for that game, which was a treat in itself, but it was one of the quickest, most intense games I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The heartbreak of that last ten seconds where Shaun Johnson evades Kevin Sinfield’s desperate last ditch tackle will live with me forever, but the 79:50 before it was just phenomenal – it’s a game of inches as they say.

Your wish for the future of rugby league?

In my ideal world, England would be 2021 World Cup champions, James Ford’s full-time York will be in the Super League play-off places taking on all before them at the brand new – and regularly sold out – LNER Community Stadium and off the back of some hugely successful expansion plans we would all be looking forward to the biggest RLWC ever: North America 2025.

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