Castleford Tigers winger Kirk Dixon has been forced to call time on his illustrious playing career, following surgery in the off season to replace a disk in his neck.
Speaking after making his announcement, Dixon said: “I’ve had surgery to remove a disk and I’ve had an artificial disk put in there and it was going to be at least a six months no contact rehab period, That would have taken up most of this season and prior to the surgery I already had an idea that I might retire at the end of the 2015 season. But it has come to an end now and you simply can’t put a price on your health. It’s certainly not the way I wanted to go out.”
2014 saw Dixon find some of his best ever form, constantly putting in solid displays particularly in defence as the Tigers reached fourth in Super League and a Challenge Cup final. He scored 12 tries in 19 games, and he also passed the 1000 point mark for the club in the opening day win over Bradford, by scoring a try and six goals.
Dixon remembers the promotion back to Super League in 2007 and of course playing in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley in 2014 as two of his many treasured memories from his nine year career with the Tigers.
He said: “People try to tell you what it feels like to play at Wembley, but standing there in that tunnel with your best mates behind and in front of you, surrounded by coaching staff that you have upmost respect for, and to do it for a club you have fallen in love with because they have adopted you as your own, after all the club has been through, is just something so special.”
Tigers CEO Steve Gill said: “When a player has to quit the sport he loves through injury it is always going to be a sad day. Kirk Dixon has given us so many fantastic memories in his nine year career at the Tigers and has always been a fans favourite. We will all miss having him around the place, and I am sure he will miss being part of our great club. On behalf of the people of Castleford I would like to thank Kirk for his magnificent contribution to Castleford Tigers over the years.”
“I will miss everything about this place, the office staff, the coaches, the players, Castleford itself,” Dixon continued.
“There are a great bunch of people here in Cas, and honest set of fans who always pick you up when you need it, I’ll just miss it all. Trying to come to terms with not putting the shirt on and walking out of that tunnel is something that hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t for quite some time. Watching the boys walk out v Wakefield is going to be tough. But it’s my health that has to come first now, I have a family, a lovely little girl, and it would have been selfish of me to carry on from both a family and a club point of view. I probably wouldn’t have come back from the injury as the same player.”
Daryl Powell was full of praise today for Dixon, saying: “Kirk Dixon has been a consummate professional for Castleford Tigers over many years. His work rate and attention to detail in his practice has been absolutely superb during my time at the club.
“I know everyone connected with the playing and coaching staff will be hugely disappointed with Kirk leaving the club however everyone’s time as a player has to end and Kirk is leaving with everyone’s best wishes and moving on to the next chapter in his life. I wish him the very best in his new challenge and thank him for everything he done for the Tigers, it has been a real pleasure to work with him.”
Dixon also paid tribute to the Castleford fans, commenting: “All I can say is a massive thank you to the Castleford fans. They’ve welcomed me from day one even though I am a codhead, they’ve not held that against me. The people here are fantastic. We’ve had some seasons where there really hasn’t been much to shout about but they’ve still been here supporting us.
“It’s really humbling as players to know that we’ve got these great people supporting us. My family love coming here, there’s two great clubs in Hull they could support but it’s all about Cas for us, so from me and my family it’s a massive thank you and I will look forward to getting behind the boys from the terraces with you all.”