Matthew Clarke (footballer, born 1980)
|Full name||Matthew Paul Clarke|
|Date of birth||18 December 1980|
|Place of birth||Leeds, England|
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|2006||→ Darlington (loan)||2||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 1 October 2013.
He started his professional career in 1998 with Wolverhampton Wanderers but was released after his first full season as a pro and without making a first team appearance. He went on to play for Halifax Town and Darlington before signing for Bradford City in 2006. He remained with The Bantams until 2010 before joining Maltese Premier League side Hibernians, during a three-year spell in Malta Clarke also played for Msida Saint-Joseph and Marsaxlokk.
Clarke started his career as a trainee with Wolverhampton Wanderers but never made it to the first team appearance. Clarke signed for Halifax Town in 1999. He played 78 times and scored twice for Halifax.
He then signed for Darlington in July 2004 following a trial at Manchester City the previous season. He was set to leave Darlington in May 2005 but following talks with manager David Hodgson he stayed at the club and was rewarded with the club captaincy.
He signed for Bradford City in 2006 to replace Damion Stewart after playing 169 league games and scoring 13 goals for Darlington. He was sent off on his debut for City during a Football League Trophy game defeat to Scunthorpe United. He rejoined the Quakers on a month loan during the 2006–07 season after an injury-plagued start to his Bantams career. His loan deal lasted two games because of an injury caused by driving before he returned to Bradford, for whom he made his league debut on 5 December 2006. He played just ten games in his first season for Bradford City and made his first prolonged spell in the first team during the following season when he displaced Mark Bower from the team.
He scored his first goal for Bradford City – and first for 21 months – in a 2–0 win over Accrington Stanley on 1 January 2008. He made his first prolonged run of games in the Bradford team until he suffered a medial ligament injury in training, which allowed loan defender TJ Moncur to make his debut and play throughout February and March 2008. He missed the rest of the 2007–08 season because of the injury, but signed a new contract in April 2008, which kept him at Bradford City for the following season.
He started the following season, helping Bradford to two clean sheets in their first three league games, before he suffered another injury, after half-an-hour of a 3–2 defeat to Aldershot Town. City were 1–0 ahead when Clarke went off with a calf injury which was due to keep him out for up to a month. However, after missing a Football League Trophy derby game with Leeds United, he made a quick recovery playing in City's next league game. He was sent off after only 12 minutes of a 3–1 victory against Grimsby Town on 24 October 2008. In March 2009, Clarke and striker Barry Conlon were both dropped for a game with Exeter City and punished following a breach of club discipline. Manager Stuart McCall said: "It's an internal matter and has been dealt with in the dressing room." In the following game, Clarke scored City's equalising goal, but they fell to a 4–1 defeat to Bournemouth, which prompted McCall to offer to resign if the side did not reach the play-offs.
Move to the Maltese League
That summer he moved to Malta to sign for Maltese Premier League side Hibernians. At the end of the season he moved clubs and joined Msida Saint-Joseph where he scored once in 17 appearances. In the summer of 2012 he signed for Marsaxlokk and eventually left the club and the country the end of the 2012–13 season.
On 3 June 2013 Clarke joined Conference National side Grimsby Town on trial. The following day Grimsby joint-manager Rob Scott denied it was a trial and said Clarke had contacted the club and asked to train for a few days, he said the player was training with Grimsby as a favour as he is good mates with Grimsby winger Joe Colbeck. Scott went on to add that The Mariners never had any intention of signing him. He later went on trial at FC Halifax Town but failed to earn a contract.
He is the twin brother of fellow footballer Chris Clarke.
- Hugman, Barry J, ed. (2006). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2006–07. Edinburgh: Mainstream. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-84596-111-4.
- "Quakers capture Clarke". BBC Sport. 5 July 2002. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "Clarke set to stay at Darlington". BBC Sport. 30 May 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "Clarke is honoured by captaincy". BBC Sport. 8 August 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- "Bradford sign Darlington's Clarke". BBC Sport. 24 June 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- Parker, Simon (29 November 2006). "Journey was a real pain, says Clarke". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- "Bantam Clarke to rejoin Quakers". BBC Sport. 26 October 2006. Retrieved 10 March 2008.
- Parker, Simon (17 October 2006). "Long wait is over for Clarke". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- Parker, Simon (6 December 2007). "Black stars as City end losing run". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- Crowther, Mike (21 November 2007). "McCall's faith in Clarke is rewarded". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- Parker, Simon (4 December 2007). "Don't be Staggered if Clarke scores". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- Parker, Simon (1 January 2008). "Accrington 0 City 2". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 27 January 2008.
- Parker, Simon (4 March 2008). "Clarke comeback delayed". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 4 March 2008.
- Parker, Simon (17 April 2008). "Clarke agrees new City deal". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
- Parker, Simon (1 September 2008). "City playing pain game". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- Parker, Simon (5 September 2008). "Clarke set for rapid return". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- "Port Vale 0–2 Bradford". BBC Sport. 6 September 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2008.
- "Grimsby 1–3 Bradford". BBC Sport. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2008.
- Parker, Simon (16 March 2009). "Conlon and Clarke disciplined by City". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- Parker, Simon (17 March 2009). "Bournemouth 4 City 1". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- Parker, Simon (17 March 2009). "McCall: I'll quit if we miss play-offs". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
- "Bradford City release seven players from their squad". BBC Sport. 7 May 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Azzopardi, Kevin (2 July 2010). "Hibs to sign British duo". Times of Malta. Retrieved 2 July 2010.