James Ford leaves York City Knights to join Wakefield Trinity coaching staff

Wakefield Trinity have confirmed that James Ford has left his role as boss of York City Knights to join the Belle Vue club as assistant coach to Mark Applegarth.
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Ford has been head coach with the Knights since 2015, guiding them to the League One title and establishing them as one of the strongest clubs in the Championship.

He has known Trinity head coach Applegarth for a number of years and is looking forward to working with him ahead of the 2023 campaign.

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“Mark is someone I know really well and I’m excited to work with him again,” said Ford.

James Ford has joined the Wakefield Trinity coaching staff after leaving his head role at York City Knights. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comJames Ford has joined the Wakefield Trinity coaching staff after leaving his head role at York City Knights. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
James Ford has joined the Wakefield Trinity coaching staff after leaving his head role at York City Knights. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

“I was always impressed with his work ethic alongside numerous other qualities and characteristics, so when he offered me the opportunity to come to Wakefield, I was extremely keen to get on board.

“Mark has spoken about the challenges we’ll face and I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone at the club and working together on these challenges.

“I’m a West Yorkshire lad and I understand how people in and around Wakefield feel about their rugby. I’m honoured and privileged to work for you all.”

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Trinity boss Applegarth said: “Myself and James Ford grew up coaching together at Wakefield College and he’s gone on to do a brilliant 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, speaks well in front of the group and is a real thinker of the game.

“I’m really delighted to have him on board and think he will be a quality addition.”

Applegarth’s full backroom team for the 2023 season has also been confirmed, including the appointment of Andreas Liefeith as head of performance.

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Andreas has been involved at the club for a number of years, overseeing the athletic development of the Academy and Scholarship players. He has now taken a full-time role at Trinity having been a senior lecturer in Biomechanics at York St John University.

Completing the performance team is Joel Fulford, who returns to the club as first-team strength and conditioning coach, and Matt Cook, who specialises in speedwork.

Speaking on his new role, Liefeith said: “In my new role as head of performance, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey at Wakefield Trinity.

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“Having worked at the club for several years, I’m pleased to add my experience to a committed and progressive group of staff, who are undoubtedly here to support the players and help them to maximise their potential.

“Myself, Joel and Matt are all really looking forward to being part of this journey.”

David Cooper will continue as head physiotherapist in 2023, with physio Ryan Carmody and sports therapist Leanne McPherson working alongside him.

“We are looking forward to getting started with pre-season, with the injured players working through their time off to make sure they are ready for November,” said Cooper.

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“Myself and the medical department are looking forward to getting to know the new staff and players, at what is a very exciting time for the club with the addition of the modern pitch and seeing many years of hard work behind the scenes by the board come to fruition with the stadium redevelopment.”

Stuart Dickens is continuing as Welfare manager, entering his 11th season working with the club.

Mark Houlton will remain in his position as performance analyst and completing the staff for 2023 is Matty Nicholson who is taking over from Applegarth as the new head of youth.

He has joined the club from Keighley Cougars and is keen to get started.

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He said: “I’d like to thank Mark and Michael for the opportunity to lead and continue to develop Wakefield Trinity’s youth set up.

“Over the past few years under Mark, the Academy system has really proven to be worth its weight in gold in terms of producing talented local players who then go on to feature in Super League.

“Ultimately, my goal is to maintain and further develop this process to ensure that we at Wakefield Trinity continue to provide opportunities for young talent to flourish and represent the city of Wakefield in Super League and hopefully earn further honours within Rugby League.

“I’m really looking forward to linking up and working with Academy head coach Jay Pitts and Scholarship head coach Jamie Field as well as the rest of the coaching and backroom staff at Wakefield to provide the best possible environment for our young players to learn and develop as both Rugby League players and people.”