After a record crowd, is something significant happening at York City Knights?

4,281. It may just be a random number to some but for the York City Knights, it could signify the start of something special.

That figure was the attendance for the Knights’ opening Betfred League 1 fixture against Bradford Bulls at Bootham Crescent on Sunday. It is now logged in the history books as the biggest home crowd in York’s history.
York KNights Crowd
Following on from the success that came from Toronto visiting last year, with the Knights victorious on the field while 2,601 watched on, it’s fair to say the North Yorkshire club know how to put on a show.

And the clash against Bradford didn’t disappoint either. A 22-20 thriller went the way of the Bulls but the Knights won’t be downbeat about the result for long, as there’s certainly something exciting brewing..

“It was a massive event and one we got excited about. The fans thankfully bought into that with us,” said Gavin Wilson, York’s Media Manager.

“It helped with it being the first fixture and a team such as Bradford, who may have struggled in the past few years but in living memory have been World Club champions and multiple Super League champions.

“We channelled a lot of efforts into it and all through pre-season led to that day.

“We don’t have many resources at our level but what we did do was try to be innovative and use a lot of the techniques that we did against Toronto last year and make an event out of the day, rather than it being just another game.”

When the fixtures were released for League 1, all eyes were bound to be on Bradford and who they would be facing in their first taste of third tier rugby.

Luckily for the Knights, they were drawn out and Wilson certainly struck while the iron was hot.

“When the fixtures were launched, we set the Toronto attendance figure as our initial target,” he added.

“Thankfully through our partners EventBrite we managed to get the tickets online quite soon so they were there for a while before the event.

“With Bradford having their first settled off-season in five or six years, their fans started to buy into it. They were getting back into the groove and starting to get excited about their rugby rather than worrying about more financial troubles.

“They came out and supported their team in numbers.”

Getting similar crowds will be nigh on impossible for the Knights as they face teams who won’t bring a hefty following like the Bulls.

However, the commercial team will have their sights set on welcoming the locals to more games throughout the year.

And that’s not to mention the great link York has with dual-registration partners Hull Kingston Rovers, who brought a healthy number of fans to the Bradford game.

“Our next challenge is to keep those York fans coming back,” Wilson commented.

“It won’t be easy due to limited resources through the season and we can’t get up for every game like that.

“We’ll try our best and if we get the majority of those first-time fans coming back then we’ll have done well.

“Hopefully we can increase our game-on-game average from last year and we’ll take it from there.

“Dual-registration has had its controversies and faults over the past few years, but the partnership we’ve struck up with Hull KR has been really beneficial for both parties

“Hull KR brought a bus-load over on Sunday afternoon so it works out really well and there’s a lot of goodwill there.

“They’re only 45 minutes up the A1079 so hopefully we’ll see a few more of them this year.”

With a new stadium on the way, a talented young coach in James Ford, who has a great mix of youth and experience to choose from, there’s only one way York City Knights are looking and that’s towards the Championship.