Local rugby team gets home fixture in Cup

YORK Acorn have been drawn at home to Barrow Island in round two of the Coral Challenge Cup.

The tie will be played at the Thanet Road ground.

Acorn beat Hammersmith Hills Hoists in the first round.

National Conference League premier division side Acorn will take on a Barrow outfit who finished fifth in division two last year on the weekend of January 25-26.

What’s on in York: Launch of Carole Bromley’s pamphlet, ‘Sodium 136’

Thursday January 16th 
6:15 pm – 7:45 pm 
Three great readers for the price of one. Better still, it’s free! Join us for the launch of Carole Bromley’s new Calder Valley Press pamphlet, Sodium 136.  Carole will be joined by Emma Storr and Stuart Pickford.

Carole Bromley is well known on the York poetry scene. She has three full length collections with Smith/Doorstop and her new pamphlet, from Calder Valley Press, concerns her recent experience of brain surgery.

‘This is not just a record of physical suffering – it is a powerful and profoundly intelligent exploration of grief, gratitude, fear, love, and joy. Poetry at its best’ (Clare Shaw)

 ‘These are remarkable, extraordinary poems’ (Peter Sansom)

Stuart Pickford is a keen runner and will be reading about his hobby. His latest book is Swimming with Jellyfish from smith/doorstop.

Emma Storr’s background is medical. She lives in Leeds and is a member of the Leeds Writers Circle and the Wharfedale Poets. Her work has appeared in the Hippocrates Anthologies 2016 and 2018 and Strix magazine. Her debut pamphlet Heart Murmur was published in May 2019 by Calder Valley Poetry. It features poems based on her experience working as a GP and explores the workings of the body and mind in varied and humorous ways.

Admission is free, but booking is strongly advised as we expect this event to be very popular.

Turning into a pantomime?

It is understandable that residents want to know when the £42 million community stadium complex will be fully open for business.

Taxpayers will point out that around £10 million of the costs have come out of their pockets.

Originally scheduled for a 2012 opening, delays dogged the project. Even after contracts had been signed for a June 2019 opening “labour shortages” meant that the actual stadium opening was put back to the autumn 2019 and then to the Spring 2020.

It seemed that the dates were firming up as the IMAX cinema admitted its first paying customers before Christmas while an excitable gaggle of Councillors started tweeted pictures of the “finished” stadium.

The Knights Rugby Club said that their first home fixture of the new season would take place at the stadium on 9th February. The stadium was also set to host a big “double header” with Super League clubs Toronto and Wakefield facing off on the 22nd March.

Questions at a York City supporters forum led to a statement from an executive councillor last week who confirmed that a transport plan was in place. It would get large crowds to the out of town, 8000 capacity, stadium site. (Currently, York City matches attract around 2500 spectators)

However, it remained unclear whether joint entry/transport tickets would be sold and information about public transport capacity was scarce, given that the opening (rugby) fixture was less than a month away.

A “trial” dinner event was then cancelled, and the Knights said that their 9th February fixture might have to be moved to Bootham Crescent.

We think that the stadium will be an asset for the City. When the interest level stabilises, after the first couple of games, transport arrangements should also be adequate.

We are less convinced about the viability of some of the other elements of the development not least the additional swimming pool.

But we are, where we are.

The Council and its contractors should now be able to give a clear programme of actions leading up to firm commissioning and hand-over dates.

NB. Local side York Acorn Rugby got off to a winning start on Saturday in their cup match against Hammersmith Hills Hoist. The score line was 36 points to 14. There were no problems accommodating the crowd at the Thanet Road Stadium (!)


Not been short on local news this week with a lot of speculation that the Theatre Royal’s annual pantomime will be ditched.

The seasonal event was a favourite with many residents and attracted a loyal following. In the 80.s and 90’s the income from the pantomime kept the Theatre Royal afloat.

The audience numbers were so large that the Opera House, and briefly also the Barbican, put on competing pantomimes.

Lots of people were prepared to pay for “more of the same” right up to the time that the star Berwick Kaler announced his retirement last year. Tickets sales were down, and reviews were mixed, for this years “Kalerless” event (he did do some script-writing).

With the benefit of hindsight, the Theatre might have been wise to boost the cast with some fresh – well known – names this year.

The theatre then announced last week that it would be taking “brave” decisions, so the writing was one the wall.

It coincided with a bid from the Theatre Royal for £500,000 of investment by the York Council. That implied a need for an ongoing public subsidy level similar to that seen in the last decade.

We have no doubt that there will be at least one pantomime in York next Christmas.

Nostalgia rules with a seasonal production of the 70 year old “White Christmas” having pulled in big West End audiences this season. The Theatre Royal needs to exploit that market. The City’s seasonal background atmosphere offers a huge marketing advantage.

Whether the present cast of the traditional panto can find another venue for their product – and continue to attract audiences – will become clear later in the year.

The Theatre Royals plans should become clearer this week.

Burnholme Sports Centre to open next month

The brand new Burnholme Sports Centre will open in York in January 2020. Lack of progress in improving facilities on the west of York has been criticised

The new £2.5million centre is part of a major community development in east York delivered by City of York Council and operated by GLL.

“The new centre is a bright, modern space, with a great range of facilities. It sits alongside and complements a new community hub and Explore library, a care home currently under construction and plans for 100 much-needed homes on the site”.

The Council approach to this facility in east York (and the nearby new Monk Cross sports centre which opens next year) contrasts with its policy of closing sports facilities in west York.

That policy has seen the football pitches at Lowfields built on, the all weather sports area on Kingsway West removed and a bowling green on Front Street closed during the last year.

None of those facilities have been replaced locally despite Council promises to the contrary.

The facilities at the existing Better Sports centre on Cornlands Road are inaccessible for many people living in the area because of high entrance charges. The Westfield area is statistically the poorest in the City

The Burnholme centre features a 25 station gym with the latest Technogym equipment and two studios which will offer an extensive range of instructor-led and virtual classes including Group Cycle.

The four-court sports hall will host a wide programme of sports activities including badminton and gymnastics.

The existing outdoor 3G will also be managed from the new centre with new changing rooms and referees’ facilities available, while the levelled and re-seeded grass pitches will be ready for use in early autumn.

The centre will open on Wednesday 8 January 2020 for existing members and new members.

Membership for the new centre will start at just £29.95 a month which includes unlimited access to the gym and fitness classes. Opening offers are available exclusively to customers who register their details in advance.

For more information about Burnholme Sports Centre or to register your details for the exclusive membership offers please visit better.org.uk/burnholme

Tim Bestford, head of service for GLL, said: “We’re delighted to be operating this fantastic new centre in York under the Better brand, on behalf of our partners City of York Council. We’re looking forward to welcoming our first customers next month.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, executive member for leisure and culture for City of York Council said: “I’m delighted that the Burnholme Sports Centre will open in the new year. This brilliant new £2.5m facility will help residents to become and keep fitter than ever!