YORK City Knights head coach James Ford has revealed that he will meet with retiring legend Tim Spears and chairman Jon Flatman to discuss a potential coaching position at the club.

Spears announced on Wednesday that he would hang up his boots at the end of the season and bring a close to a near 20-year career in professional rugby league.

Five of those seasons have been spent with York, with Spears captain for four of them.

During that time, the forward has been a huge presence on the field and helped the club securing the League One title in 2018 and a third-placed finish in the Championship the following year.

Ford has consistently waxed lyrical about Spears' impact as a leader in the dressing room and he has said that a conversation will be had around the 37-year-old staying in a coaching capacity.

Spears himself said that he was keen to "take some time away from the game and prioritise my family", but added that he would "never say never" to such a position.

“Me and Tim need to sit down and have a chat," said Ford.

"I’ve made it clear that I’m full of respect for Tim, he’s really enjoyed his time at York and I’d like to think that respect is mutual.

“I do appreciate that he has given a lot to the sport and he’s got a young family.

“We’ll have that conversation, and Jon will be involved in that as well. It’s for all of us to discuss and see what suits us all best.

“The door is certainly not closed.”

Signed from Featherstone Rovers in 2016, Spears was the first signing of the Flatman era in which the club has transformed itself from being on the brink of closure to establishing itself as a credible challenge for a Super League spot in the not-so-distant future.

Ford admitted that he will miss having Spears as a player.

The coach enthused: "I’m full of respect and admiration for Tim and how he conducts himself, whether he is in the team or not, he’s always first-class and willing to put the team first.

“How he looks after himself is a definite lesson for some of the other players at the club.

“I think that all of the things that Tim does off the field is really evident in what he does on the field.

“He’s 37 years of age but he’s still charging around that field trying to wallop blokes far younger than he is, he’s so competitive.

“I’ll miss working with him as a player. He’s been an absolute delight to coach, he keeps you on your toes and he will challenge you.

“You know if he thinks that you’re not quite right because his feelings are written all over him when you’re having a conversation with him - he can pull some funny faces.

“But that’s good and I’ll miss that. It would be great if we could keep Tim around for the future.”

Ahead of Sunday's final Betfred Championship home game of the season against London Broncos, veterans Ryan Atkins and Danny Washbrook - both of whom had long careers in Super League - also declared that they would be retiring at the end of the month.

Former England international Atkins recently brought up 400 appearances for his career, the majority of those coming at Warrington Wolves and Wakefield Trinity. The centre won four major honours with the former.

Ford said: “I think that Ryan has been really good for us this year.

"He’s a big physical presence out wide who has scored some tries and been good in yardage.

“He’s been a good presence off the field as well because we’ve had all sorts of disruption.

“Ryan has been really good at supporting the coaching staff at times. I’m really proud to have coached Ryan.

“I didn’t know him before this season but I’m really pleased that we brought him to the club.

"I’m full of respect for Ryan as a player and a bloke.

“I would put him in the same category as Ben Cockayne, Tim Spears, Graeme Horne, Joel Edwards, Joe Batchelor and Greg Minikin.

"They’re people who you stay in touch with when they leave the club because you’re so endeared to them because of how they’ve conducted themselves. Ryan is now in that little gang.”

Washbrook meanwhile may be best remembered for his two spells at Hull FC, winning back-to-back Challenge Cups in his second stint.

Ford added: “It’s been great to get to know Washy.

"He’s been key for us this year because he’s played pretty much every position.

“He has conducted himself tremendously well, even when he wasn’t in the team.

"He understood that it wasn’t personal and he did his best for the 17 that were playing.

“That’s a real mark of his character. When a player is not selected and they’re disruptive or vindictive, they’re the kind of players that you don’t want at your club.

“He’s an intelligent young man who wants to play every week but understands that he is a little more mature now than he was a few years ago.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Danny, he’s a great guy.”