Long serving head coach James Ford has announced he is leaving York City Knights after 7 years in charge to take up an assistant coach role with Wakefield Trinity in Super League.
Ford became the head coach of York in 2015 when the club was in League one and at a time when the club looked under threat of going extinct.
Despite all of this, he guided them to back to back appearances in the League one play offs but with little success until 2018 when the Knights didn’t need the playoffs for promotion as they won the title ahead of rivals Bradford Bulls and returned to the second tier of Rugby League for the first time since 2013.
An excellent first season back in the Championship saw York finish 3rd before the abandoned 2020 season and a disappointing ninth place finish in 2021. The club returned to the playoffs this season though but crashed out to the Leigh Centurions in what turned out to be Ford’s last game as Head Coach.
Ford had this to say around him leaving the club.
“This is probably the hardest interview I’m going to do as York Head Coach but possibly the most important one.
“I’d like to start initially by thanking the players for their efforts over the last eight years and I include every single one of them in that, whether they know or believe it or not. I think the world of every single one of them and I’m very proud to have coached them and, hopefully, helped them in some way.
“I’d also like to thank my support staff for their incredible work ethic and drive. They’ve been absolutely key and central to the progress the Club has made. Without them I don’t believe the Club would be where it is today.”
He continued to show thanks to the supporters.
“And then, we move onto the supporters. I think it’s fair to say that we’ve a pretty special relationship with each other. We’ve had some tough times and we came through those tough times to enjoy some really good times. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite get the job done for you and I assure you it wasn’t through a lack of effort! I think we’ll all agree that the Knights are in a really strong position to kick on and take that next step.
“The last thing I’d ask of everybody, the staff I’m leaving behind, the players, the supporters is to keep doing what you do. The new Head Coach will love you all for it and, together, you’ve got a real chance of taking the next step of making a Grand Final and challenging for promotion.
“Thank you very much for your support over the last eight seasons. It’s been an absolute pleasure.”
Ford now joins Mark Applegarth at Wakefield Trinity as they look to stay in Super League and he tries his hand at the top tier of English Rugby League.
Applegarth had his say on the appointment;
“Myself and James Ford grew up coaching together at Wakefield College and he’s gone on to do a brillant job at York.
“He compliments me really well in terms of our strengths and I think he’ll be a great addition to the group.
“He’s a real technical coach, good at detailing. he speaks well in front of the group and is a real thinker of the game.”