By Joe Smith

YORK City Knights legend Tim Spears has announced that he will retire from rugby league at the end of this season.

Spears joined the Knights as one of the first signings following chairman Jon Flatman’s takeover of the club in late 2016 and has been a constant fixture in an evolving club, leading the team as captain until the end of 2020.

The veteran forward made his 400th career appearance during the final match of 2020, against Rochdale Hornets at Post Office Road, the home of Featherstone Rovers, whom Spears played for between 2009 and 2016.

In his second year with the Knights, Spears led James Ford’s Knights to the League One title in 2018 with the Knights encompassing a ‘never say die’ attitude that the 37-year-old has been key to instilling throughout the club during his time with York.

This year has seen Spears make 11 Betfred Championship appearances while also, in his final year as a professional, representing the Knights at Wembley in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup final.

On Spears’ retirement, head coach Ford paid tribute to his efforts over the past five years, saying: “I’m very proud to have coached Tim. His work ethic and drive to be the best version of himself are very inspiring.

“He has given an awful lot to rugby league and this club. I hope he enjoys his retirement and finally gets to meet his family.

"Thanks for everything, mate.”

Spears acknowledged that now is right to hang up his boots.

“You get to a point in your career where it’s time," he said. "I’m 37 years old, I’ve had a fantastic time and, through Covid and lockdowns, we all missed playing and then came back.

“I’ve just come to a point where I think it’s the right time in my life. I’ve got young kids away from rugby who probably want to see a bit more of me.

"I remember signing for Castleford 22 years ago. I’ve made over 400 appearances but good things have to come to an end and that’s where I’m at.”

At the training ground this season, Spears has been seen mentoring and helping members of the squad.

Speaking on where he sees his time going in retirement, the forward did not rule out returning to coach.

“You never say never but I’ve been playing for 22 years now and I’ve got a tough job away from the place," he said. "I’ve got a young family I want to spend time with and you can’t do everything.

“At this moment in time, I think it’s right for me to take some time away from the game and prioritise my family and career.

“I’ve done some work with some of the boys at the training ground and I’ve been happy to see the other guys having the opportunity to play but, equally, when required, I’ve played and enjoyed playing.

"When you’re given the opportunity to play for York City Knights, you don’t turn it down and I’ve enjoyed every game as always.”