A man with a wizard left peg, Adrian Clarke was signed by manager Paul Fairclough in summer 2000 and was soon on his way to legendary status. Clarkie was let go by first club Arsenal after nine first-team starts and ended up at Southend United. But he’d play his last game for the Shrimpers against Cheltenham Town – coming on for the ‘ineffective Scott Houghton‘. Their loss, obviously, would be our gain.
Despite sometimes being one of the quieter players on the pitch, Clarke lit up games by pinging in a thunderbolt from outside the area. A total of 19 goals in 75 starts and 11 sub appearances was his return; a good ratio for any left winger. He was very attacking too – probably explaining why he’d often seem to play below par in a wing back role.
He was probably the most influential player in getting Boro’ to the 2002 FA Trophy final, but sadly played below par – along with the rest of the team to be fair – on the biggest of all non-league stages. It seemed the longer he was at Stevenage, the better he became. Despite scoring a hat-full of goals in his last season, however, he was frozen out by then-manager Wayne Turner.
Adrian Clarke: After Boro’
Talking to many fans, Clarke said how much he loved the club and how he didn’t want to leave. But he couldn’t obtain first team football here. So, off he went; moving elsewhere and giving Margate a gem of a player in the process. After three years on the Kent coast, he signed for Welling United and saw out his playing days there. He has since built quite the career for himself in the media; one of the better pundits you’ll find at that too.