York City Knights are set to renew their friendly rivalry with the City’s best amateur talent this pre-season, all in aid of a very good cause.
The game on January 6th at Huntington Stadium is not only the Knights’ first hit-out of the year, but it is also a fundraiser for Boxing Bowel Cancer – a fund set up in aid of York Acorn Prop and York Select XIII Team Manager Nic Caldwell’s partner Christine Sterry, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer aged just 29.
Caldwell has put together a strong 21 man squad for the match, including five former Knights first team players – Craig Farrell, John Lidell, Andy Gargan, Adam Endersby and Mike Embleton. Half of the squad comes from Caldwell’s York Acorn club, however all of York’s amateur clubs are represented. Also featuring for the Select team are Caldwell’s former club Hull Dockers in the shape of BARLA Great Britain international Danny Ullyat.
Farrell, 31, who played for Hull KR, Doncaster and Batley aside two spells with the Knights, currently plays amateur rugby in Scarborough where he lives and teaches, having hung up his professional boots a few years ago due to injury. Liddell, the 30-year-old former Leeds, Knights, Hunslet and York Acorn ARLFC hooker, who now lives in Lancashire, is also returning to his home town for this fixture.
Speaking to Peter Martini at www.YorkPress.com, Caldwell said: “It’s great that Craig and Jonny are coming over. It’ll be good for York fans to see them again and they’ll obviously add know-how to our line-up.”
Caldwell added: “I think we’ll be very competitive. I sent the list to (Knights general manager) Ian Wilson and he seems to think it’s a pretty good squad. I think we’ll give them a good game.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement around York for this fixture. Excitement is building towards the Knights’ season – they’ve assembled a good squad – and the rugby league fraternity in York enjoys these games against the amateur lads. I think it will attract a good crowd. I hope so, especially with it being a charity day.”
He added of the response from the amateur clubs: “I probably could’ve had another ten players if allowed. It’s been brilliant.”
In three previous fixtures, honours between the sides have been even, with one win each and a draw.
Fitness-wise we might come unstuck,” said Caldwell. “Last time the Select side played the Knights, we were in mid-season but, now most of the amateur game has switched to summer, none of the lads are in season apart from a couple from New Earswick.
“Acorn, for example, don’t get into pre-season training until January and, while the Select squad will have a few sessions in December, we’ll be quite a bit behind the Knights and won’t have the advantage of match sharpness like in previous years.”
A couple of players have had to withdraw from the Select squad, the latest being New Earswick’s Jack Sinclair, albeit with a more-than-able replacement in Acorn’s Antony Chilton.
“We’re arranging a few get-togethers to get a bit of understanding,” added Caldwell.
“With half the lads coming from Acorn, we will play a similar pattern to them. That said, we don’t want to give too much away to the lads from Hull Dockers as we’ll be playing them next season (in the National Conference League premier division) and I don’t want them learning Acorn’s plays!”
The Boxing Bowel Cancer fund will also benefit from a big prizefighter boxing night featuring players from each of York’s amateur clubs, to take place early next year.
Caldwell added of the Knights: “It’s a really nice gesture from John Guildford (chairman) and Ian Wilson to give us this game and make a donation. The amateur clubs have come in for the boxing event, and this is something the Knights are doing. It really is appreciated.”
Wilson said: “It will be good to see former Knights players like Craig and Jonny back. Nic’s assembling a strong squad and they’ll be giving their all. Hopefully it will be a good game for the public, in addition to raising money for a great cause.”
THE York Select XIII have adopted the colours of the Boxing Bowel Cancer charity they are supporting, as shown in this computerised image of the kit, which is made by Raven Sport.
The strip’s main sponsor is Bowel Cancer UK, and LoveRugbyLeague.com is also on the chest.
SN Motor Services are the main rear sponsor and Chris and Stuart Brown, who coach at Heworth ARLC, have also sponsored the rear of the shirt via Browns Plasterers. The sleeves are sponsored by ex-Acorn player Andy Lee’s business, Core Chiropractic.
The badge is called the Star Of Hope, the symbol adopted by the colorectal cancer community.
Replica shirts can be ordered for £30 via Select team manager Nic Caldwell on 07854 106380, with proceeds going to the charity.
You can also follow the charity on twitter: @BoxingCancer
(Thanks to Peter Martini at YorkPress.com)