In a time before Luke Freeman, there was Adrian Clarke. Both graduates of Arsenal, there is a little bit of disparity between the ages of the pair upon arriving at Boro’, but there are also some striking similarities; both being wing wizards on the left hand side for a start. Clarkey was recruited by gaffer Paul Fairclough in summer 2000, having played at Southend United in the three years after his departure from the Gunners.
Gaining invaluable experience both in the Premier and Football Leagues, he became a vital player for us; a side looking to end a four-year wait for our second Conference crown. And, with it, first Football League promotion. If only football and life were that easy and kind…
Adrian Clarke: Why Is He A Cult Classic?
One of Clarke’s significant traits in his time at Broadhall Way was the ability to score goals that would make seasoned strikers blush. Call it 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 yards; nothing was out of his range. Notable examples are two rockets against Forest Green Rovers in February 2002. But these were not in isolation. Many of his 19 goals during his time at the club were special. We think that some of them may have even surprised the man himself.
Another occasion on which Clarkey’s importance was underlined came against struggling Dover Athletic on the following April Fool’s Day. After the visitors went ahead, Clarke was determined not to see Boro’ being the fools and hit back with another pile-driver; the type that would have Alan Partridge comparing his left peg to a traction engine. But then injury forced him off after just 20 minutes. Boro’ wilted to defeat. Coincidence? We think not.
For whatever reason, he fell out of favour with Wayne Turner and was loaned to Hendon; with respect, a team below Clarke’s abilities. A permanent move soon followed; down to Margate. And we were left relying on Michael Blackwood and Louis Riddle out wide on our left wing. Was it a decision that backfired on Turner? Well, he was sacked after taking us to the bottom of the table in December. So, you tell us…
Adrian Clarke: Epilogue
After Margate, came Welling United. After Welling, came retirement. And that came far too soon; injury forcing his boots onto the peg for one last time. But he found a way to transfer his talents into a new line of work; now a writer, commentator and renowned expert on the beautiful game. He opines for the official Premier League site among others, while lending his dulcet tones to The Totally Football Show podcast. And we bet he probably still pings ’em in from 25 yards even with his injury.