'I look at the positives:' Ex-Blackpool defender on being a leader, ownership difficulties, and disappointing departure

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Former Blackpool defender Peter Clarke says he will always look back on his time at the club with fondness despite some of the difficulties that occurred.

The 42-year-old has played for the Seasiders on three separate occasions, making 150 appearances in total and scoring 19 goals. As well as spending time on Fylde Coast, the centre back also has the likes of Southend United, Huddersfield Town and Tranmere Rovers on his CV, and currently represents National League North side Warrington Town, whom he joined last summer following his departure from Walsall.

Clarke’s first taste of life at Bloomfield Road came while on loan from Everton in 2002 alongside Seasiders Keith Southern, before later returning on a permanent basis in 2004, during which time he went on to captain the club.

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"The opportunity arose to go out on loan, the manager at the time was Steve McMahon, and being a Liverpool fan, I was well aware of him and the way he played,” he said.

Peter Clarke (Photographer Mick Walker/CameraSport)Peter Clarke (Photographer Mick Walker/CameraSport)
Peter Clarke (Photographer Mick Walker/CameraSport)

"At the time the ground was part way through being redeveloped, so there was no stand where the hotel is, so it was slightly different to how it is now. I enjoyed it, there were some good lads, and we did quite well while I was on loan.

"Me and Keith (Southern) were called back at the end of that loan spell, and he virtually went straight back to Blackpool. I didn’t, they wanted me to stay there, which was a little bit frustrating as I could’ve been playing regular football.

"I signed permanently under Colin Hendry. We weren’t as successful as we would’ve liked to have been, but I really enjoyed my football, and to win one or two personal awards was nice.

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"I don’t know if I was a natural leader, I’ll let others be the judge of that. I can’t say I thought that looking back, but I was always a talker on the pitch and would always demand things from others.”

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Following Clarke’s initial departure from Bloomfield Road in 2006, Blackpool won promotion to the Championship the following year under Simon Grayson, before Ian Holloway led the club to the Premier League in 2010.

"To be perfectly honest it was a little bit of a surprise,” the defender admitted.

"There was a period of a few years where the club had struggled a little bit, but things can change, and they progressed up the divisions which was great for the supporters.”

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Clarke rejoined the Seasiders in 2014, but only lasted a season before moving on again. The 42-year-old admits the difficulties surrounding the then Oyston ownership of the club was more apparent to him during his second stint.

"You were always aware of the things going on at the club but you weren’t heavily involved in it, it was something the coaching staff had to deal with,” he stated.

"In my initial time, it didn’t make our jobs as players any harder but when I returned as a more experienced person, then it did create a more challenging environment.

"It was difficult, there’s no denying it. The timing of the squad being built was not conducive to having a really positive season. There was a distinct lack of players at the start of pre-season, and they were signed intermittently throughout- it was hard to build cohesion.

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"There was certainly poor relations between the hierarchy and the fans, and the hierarchy and the management, so as a more experienced player you’re aware of that. At times the supporters voiced their opinion and were well within their rights to do so.

"I still look back at my time at the club with a huge amount of fondness. Was it the most enjoyable part of my career?- no. Did it help me as an individual?- yes it probably did. I always try to look at the positive aspects of circumstances.

"Although the club were relegated, a huge part of me still wanted to be there, but that decision ultimately wasn’t mine. I would’ve liked to have stayed and been part of rebuilding.”

The full interview with Clarke is available as a podcast on Dailymotion, Spotify and Apple.

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