Exeter City Women forward Tash Knapman has announced her retirement, bringing to a close the career of one of the region's most prolific goalscoring talents.
After securing a Bronze medal for England in the World Junior Taekwondo Championships in 2006, Knapman turned her attention to football and began playing for Totnes and Dartington. Signing for Plymouth in 2009, she would begin to establish herself as the County’s most sought after forward.
After a three-year spell in Green, Knapman signed for Exeter City in 2012, hitting 72 goals in 58 appearances, including goals in the Grecians’ two County Cup victories of the 2010s. With such a record it would not be long before, then Women’s Super League side, Yeovil Town made an approach and Knapman moved to the Glovers.
Six goals in the 2015/2016 season for the Somerset side was a promising start at the top level, but a move back to Plymouth Argyle in the summer would lead to Knapman accumulating the majority of her career goals. Six seasons in Green landed a title, golden boot awards, player of the season awards and County Cup dominance as Knapman hit 167 goals. A brief spell at Buckland Athletic the only break in her six-year spell at Home Park.
After a year away from the game, Knapman returned to the Grecians this summer, looking to provide one final season to showcase her undoubted goalscoring talent. It would not take long for City’s difference maker to indeed make a difference, two late goals against Swindon Town securing a vital three league points. Knapman played in City’s FA Cup win at Helston last weekend, rounding the Blues goalkeeper to tap into the unguarded net, a familiar sight for the number 13 but one that will now act as a footnote as her last career goal.
Knapman was full of praise for her final spell in football. “I want to thank Abbie and Aaron for the opportunity and the players and staff for being so welcoming, I only wish this set up was available ten years ago when I was in my prime! I have no doubt that the hard work put in every week will get the team where they want to be, I will definitely be cheering on from the sidelines and would love to see the girls promoted this season.”
Joint City Manager Abbie Britton is sad to see Tash depart. “It’s a big loss. Tash’s movement and finishing is an education to any young forward, it can be the difference in big moments as we saw with the Swindon game. Ultimately, Tash has made the decision to spend more time with family and we all fully respect that decision. We all wish her nothing but the best and congratulate her on a fantastic career.”
With over 300 career goals, a collection of titles, cups and personal awards, there is no doubting the fact that Natasha Knapman retires one of the Westcountry’s finest ever female footballers.