This morning saw the Knights confirm the contract extension of prop forward Ronan Dixon and, after missing the curtailed 2020 campaign, he is both delighted to have signed and eager to get back playing in 2021.
“I’m absolutely chuffed to re-sign for another year at the club,” he explained. “Obviously this season didn’t go quite the way I wanted to with my shoulder operation and the virus but I know how valued I am as an individual and player at the club.” Further to that, Dixon highlighted the impact of head coach James Ford on his decision to sign for 2021: “I really like and understand Fordy’s philosophy in how he wants us to play and what he expects from us. The culture around the club is outstanding and it’s something I’m very proud to be part of.”
In addition to this, he paid testament to the man-management of his head coach, emphasising his belief that York is the club where he is best-placed to develop. “Signing again for York is a terrific opportunity to better myself under one of the most up and coming coaches in the English game,” he explained. “The amount of time Fordy puts into the players is second to none and I appreciate every aspect of his coaching and what the club has done for me.”
Dixon was one of the first signings made by Ford following the arrival of Jon Flatman as chairman, arriving in early 2017 from Wakefield Trinity, and that status means he is well-placed to comment on how he has seen the club develop through their tenure. “The club has grown forward in all the right ways, all the way through the community and right through to player retentions and signings,” he noted. “I know what Fordy is about and right from day one I understood what the culture would be like and that hasn’t really changed.
“We are challenged week in, week out, and that’s always good as the coaching staff push you to be better as a player and an individual.”
23-year-old Dixon will form part of a vastly experienced back in 2021. New signing Danny Kirmond will arrive with hundreds of Super League appearances to his name, joining the likes of retained pair Chris Clarkson and Danny Washbrook in bringing a huge amount of knowhow to the team. “The experience in our pack is immense with the leadership of Spearsy, Washy and Clarky and I’m really hoping we can compete for a top sport and challenge the top teams,” Dixon stated. “I have learnt a lot from my time at York through Spearsy and both Washy and Clarky are good have around because they have a massive amount of Super League games between them and they always lead from the front which is something I’m looking to add more of into my game.
On Kirmond, Dixon recalled his early years with Wakefield Trinity. “Danny is from the same village as me and I remember when he used to pick me up as a 17-year-old when I played in the Wakefield academy so I’ve known him for some time,” he said.
“He will be great to have around the team as he has been one of the stand-out players in the Wakefield team week in, week out in recent years.”
While 2020 was a frustrating one on the pitch for Knights players and fans, it was doubly frustrating for Dixon who, while things weren’t clicking for the team on the pitch, found himself working hard to come back from an injury. Having now recovered from that shoulder problem, Dixon spoke of how tough rehab can be for a player. “Somedays it can be dull and dark but it has to be done so you can come back bigger and better,” he reasoned. “There’s nothing better than being out training with the boys and when you are in the gym on your own it is often easy to lose motivation.
“It has to be done, though. The best thing to do is just crack on and get on with it because it all makes you a better player once you’ve recovered.”
After that enforced absence and the curtailed season, it’s perhaps understandable that Dixon is eager to make up for lost time. “I feel like this season I have some repaying to do to the Knights fans because of my injury lay off and the virus so, next season, the Knights fans can expect an aggressive, hardworking, honest front-rower who would do anything to win,” he expressed. “I also want to try and lead from the front this year a bit more so I can stamp my authority on the front row position.
“Hopefully in 2021 I can really kick on and prove to the dedicated York fans that they are going to like what they see.”
Knights fans will, next year, be watching Dixon and his Knights teammates in the LNER Community Stadium and, having seen it, the forward is excited at that prospect. “The new stadium is one of the best I’ve seen and I believe it’s easily one of the best in the comp,” he explained. “It feels like we have been spoilt a bit but I can’t wait to walk out onto the pitch and hear the York Barmy Army cheering the lads on!”
The players and staff regularly comment on the impact of the fans on a matchday but everyone associated with the club has been humbled by the generosity of our 2020 members, a huge number of whom donated their memberships back to the club, a gesture which enables the club to continue building a strong squad and setup for 2021. Of that incredible act, Dixon said: “I think it’s absolutely outstanding that over 93% of fans donated their memberships back to the club. It’s massive for everyone across the board!
“It shows how loyal and interested the fans are at the Knights. They are massive for us on a matchday,” he explained. “There have been times where we’ve had our backs against the wall and the fans have been out eighteenth man and cheered us onto victory!
“On behalf of me and the boys, we are truly grateful for what they have done over the last couple of months. Without you, there may not be a club and I can’t stress this enough!
Please continue showing your support for the boys like I know you can and let’s get the LNER Community Stadium rocking!”