JIM BONE, dubbed “Mr York Rugby League”, has died, aged 81.

He passed away peacefully in the accident and emergency department at York Hospital on Saturday evening, a little over a week before his 82nd birthday.

He leaves behind wife Pat, two brothers and two sisters. Funeral details are to be confirmed.

Mr Bone, a York club physio in the late 1970s and 80s at Clarence Street and a long-time supporter and sponsor of rugby league at all levels from juniors to the city's professional first team, had been inducted into the York RL Legends roster in 2015.

Tributes flooded in following his death.

York City Knights chairman Jon Flatman said: “Our thoughts and prayers go to Pat and Jim's extended family on behalf of the rugby league club and the wider rugby community that he served and supported so well for so many years.

"So many people have already contacted us to enquire about the funeral details, such is the sadness in the rugby league community, and we will pass these on in due course."

York Hall of Famer Mick Ramsden wrote on social media: “Sad to hear about the passing of Jim Bone. He seemed to be a part of the furniture at York Rugby League, always with a smile on his face and story to tell. He was known and loved by so many people involved in the game in York.”

Mr Bone was at the forefront of the rebirth of York's professional club as the Knights in 2002, being the first person to pledge his support and cash to the formation of a new team at the crisis meeting following the demise of York Wasps. He also joined the initial supporters’ trust committee.

He was the Knights' inaugural Clubperson of the Year at the end of their maiden season in 2003, after his work on the committee and as a fundraiser.

Most recently, he was invited to present the Knights’ 2018 squad with their Betfred League One winners’ medals at the club’s end-of-season gala dinner in November, and he also attended the fans’ forum in December, sponsoring the Knights Ladies’ team again ahead of their second season in the Women’s Super League. He had been battling lymphoma at that time.

Pat said of the gala dinner: "If you had given him a knighthood and a million pounds, he would not have been more thrilled than he was being asked to hand out the awards. The only thing that would have pleased him more was good health."

Daryl North, the Knights Ladies coach, wrote on social media following that dinner: “Jim you are brilliant for York - always positive and forever helping throughout the club.

“We would like to say a massive thank you on behalf of the ladies’ team this year for all your help and support throughout the season even when things weren't going our way.”

Other tributes also came in that night. Kevin Harkin, the York and Hull star of the early 1980s, wrote: “You are Mr York Rugby League, Jim. A true man of the people who everyone respects. Proud to call you a friend.”

Steve Bromwich, from York Acorn ARLC, wrote: “Jim Bone, one of life’s true gentlemen.”

In addition to backing York’s pro club, Mr Bone was a former president of the York & District Amateur Rugby League and served on the British Amateur Rugby League Association board.

On his sponsorship of various junior teams, Pat said: "He wanted the little ones out playing sport, out running and shouting - doing what little ones are supposed to do."

In January 2015, such was his support for the Knights, Mr Bone memorably threatened to stop paying his council tax and risk going to prison if City of York Council refused to allow the club back into Community Stadium talks amid the local authority’s wrangling with controversial former club chairman John Guildford.

Mr Bone, born and raised in West Riding, moved to Canada with Pat, a radiographer, in 1967 and they were married in Montreal in 1968. He ran gyms in Canada and America before the couple returned to England 1971, moving to York in 1975.

He owned gyms in York for over a decade and was the chairman of the British Bodybuilding Association during that time.

Away from rugby, he played bowls for Scarcroft outdoors and New Earswick indoors. He also had a passion for nature and often fought campaigns against housing developments on green land.

On his care at hospital, Pat said: "The ambulance paramedics who attended at home were very efficient and very kind to Jim and to me. It would also be impossible to find fault with any of the A&E personnel during his time there."