Defender Ben Clark has announced his retirement from football at the age of 33.

Ben joined South Shields on a dual registration deal with Gateshead in August.

He made four appearances for the Mariners, and proved to be an excellent addition, with his experience and presence at the back impressing.

However, he was forced off with a groin injury during the 3-1 win over Washington at Mariners Park – an injury which was set to keep him out long-term.

The former Sunderland and Hartlepool United defender has now opted to hang up his boots and concentrate on coaching and community work with Gateshead.

He told Gateshead’s official website: “I’ve spoken to a lot of people – including my family – and they say ‘you know when you know’, and I think it is the right time.

“I think I’ve known for a while now.

“The (Gateshead) manager was very honest with me at the start of the season. He said he’d be bringing new lads in, and I told him I’d be giving it a go.

“It was a case of training every day and not playing on a Saturday, and I knew I didn’t really want to do that.

“I went to Shields for some game-time, and I was grateful for the opportunity to do that.”

Thanks for your efforts during your short time with us, Ben, and we wish you all the very best for the future.

The club is delighted to announce the signing of Ben Clark after agreeing a dual registration deal with Gateshead for the defender.

The 33-year-old has extensive experience in the professional game with Sunderland, Hartlepool United and Gateshead.

He captained Gateshead between 2010 and this summer, captaining the club during some of the best years of its recent history, including its run to the Conference play-off final in 2014.

His playing days started with Sunderland, and he made 14 senior appearances for the Black Cats between 2000 and 2004.

Hartlepool was his next destination, and he represented Pools almost 200 times across six years before moving on to Gateshead.

Clark has spent six years with the Heed, making nearly 300 appearances, and is now ready to pull on the Shields shirt.

Clark could make his debut for the club in Saturday’s Northern League Division One match at Chester-le-Street Town.

Picture courtesy of Gateshead FC.