Ellis looking to go out on a high

Published: 21 September, 2018 - 9:00 am

York City Knights hooker Andy Ellis will make a milestone 350th – and final – appearance in professional rugby league on Sunday, and he is aiming to finish a glittering career in the best way possible.

Now 33 years old (not 103 as Wikipedia claims!) Ellis began his career with Hull KR in 2003 aged 19, going on to score 18 tries in 50 appearances, and lifting the old Northern Rail Cup in 2005 with victory over Castleford.

He then starred for Barrow during a brief golden era for the Cumbrians, taking them up to the Championship and being named that tier’s Man of Steel after leading them to the 2009 title and the National Rail Cup final, scoring 53 tries in 94 games during three seasons with the Raiders.

He then had nearly three years in Super League with Harlequins (eight tries in 39 games) and Wakefield (10 games) before moving to Featherstone, initially on loan, in 2012, helping them top the Championship that year and again 12 months later.

He briefly retired at the end of 2015 to concentrate on teaching but returned to Featherstone in March 2016 and went on to play 24 times last season, including in all seven matches in the Middle Eights. He played 120 times in all for Rovers, notching 29 tries.

He hung up his boots again, but Knights Head Coach James Ford convinced him to join the new look Knights revolution in March 2017, and has gone on to make 34 appearances in amber & black to date, scoring 9 tries.

Reflecting on this year and a wonderful career, Ellis said: “It’s been a fantastic year for the club on and off the pitch. The fans have backed us all the way and we have tried to deliver week in week out for them. Behind the scenes, the club have worked hard to create a great environment and successful team, giving us as players, all the tools to perform week in, week out. There is a buzz about York rugby around the city and its well deserved, we are definitely moving in the right direction.

As for me and my career, I think it’s 16 years professionally playing and 6 different clubs, I’ve had the opportunity to play with some world class players that have both taught and influenced me along the way, as well as some players that are still at the early stages of their career that have some huge potential in their futures.

I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone at York for the past two years, it helped me fall in love with the game again. Special mention to Fordy, even with his ‘strange sense of humour’, I’d like to thank him for the opportunity he gave me and I hope he progresses both the club and his career further.

Ending my career this year by helping York achieve promotion and topping it off with my 350th appearance makes a bloke reflect a bit. There’s plenty of highs and lows, I will miss being part of a rugby team, the banter, the hard work, the wins, the losses, the feeling of walking onto a pitch with blokes that are willing to die for ya. I won’t miss the pre-seasons, the time away from family and the Strength & Conditioning coaches though.

If it wasn’t for my Dad, I would have never started rugby, I owe it to him for the pre seasons, black eyes and missed social occasions I’ve accumulated over the years, but, seriously, THANK YOU Dad! I am truly grateful, you led me onto a path that brought me happiness, challenge and memories, I wouldn’t change it.

Finally, rugby has been my life for so long, I’m going to feel lost and empty at times. But thank god I have a amazing wife that has stuck with me through the highs and the lows. I now have time to pay her back for everything she’s had to put up with and fill our time with new and exciting memories in the future.”

You can see Andy’s trademark head strapping for one last time when the Knights take on play-off chasing Whitehaven at Bootham Crescent this Sunday (23rd September, 3pm) in the final round of the regular season. Victory will see York crowned as Betfred League 1 Champions and seal automatic promotion to the 2019 Championship…

(Video by Ollie Jackson)