Thursday, 26 September 2013

Can Clarke's departure give others the chance to shine

SO just 8 weeks after joining Northallerton, the man with more clubs with than Jack Nicklaus has moved on. Again.

Many eyebrows were raised when Jamie Clarke arrived at Town in the summer but he certainly made an impression in his short stay at the Calvert Stadium. With 9 goals in just 10 appearances, Clarke quickly became the fulcrum of the Town attack although it was not just his goals that were important. Young players like Graham 'Boy Band' Caygill and Danny 'The Flame' McLachlan have spoken of the positive impact he had on their development.

Perhaps not renowned for his work-rate, Clarke was nevertheless an important member of the side and Town certainly lacked that extra little bit of guile in the final third when he was missing. His goals against Stokesley, North Shields and Whickham, for example, where absolutely vital and without them Town would now be well off the pace.

In fact it was that stoppage time equaliser against Whickham on Wednesday evening that proved to be his parting gift to the club as he signed for Seaham Red Star the following day. The announcement did not really come as a huge shock as it was known that Seaham had put in 7 days for him and Clarke never seems to stay anywhere for very long. Lets not forget he played for 8 different clubs last season alone.

It was hoped this time would be different given Clarke's personal friendship with manager Peter Mulcaster, but even that was not enough to prevent the much-travelled striker moving on again to ambitious Seaham, who now look to be hot favourites for promotion. Already boasting one of the league's leading scorers in Adam Johnson, the addition of Clarke will give them a formidable front line.

Mulcaster has since spoken of his desire to recruit a proven goal-scorer at this level to replace Clarke, although proven goal-scorers are hard to find. So in the meantime, it may well give an opportunity for others already at the club to show exactly what they can do.

Although he was helping with their development, being in Clarke's shadow was perhaps not always a good thing for Caygill and McLachlan, who will now both be desperate for an opportunity up front. Meanwhile, Colin Anderson, with 6 goals from 7 starts this season, and Darren Kokes are the more experienced options to partner York City loanee Chris Dickinson. Elsewhere the Academy side boast the Teesside League's leading goal-scorer in Dan Baxter, so maybe now is the time for him to be let loose on Northern League defences. And of course there is Mike Colman who we have only seen fleetingly over the last couple of seasons.

However, the fact remains that a team is only as good as its strikers and unless you have a 30-40 goal forward in your ranks, your chances of success are greatly reduced. Whatever your thoughts on Clarke, he was that man.

So this looks set to be a difficult period for the team. Already struggling to find their best form, the departure of the leading scorer has come at just the wrong time. With tough games to come in the next few weeks against the likes of Brandon United, Seaham and Jarrow Roofing, Town certainly need someone to step up to the plate and deliver the goals that are required.

But for now the focus is on Saturday's meeting with Chester-Le-Street. Having picked up just one point from two home games in the last week, it is vital Town get back to winning ways against the struggling visitors.

With Kokes serving the final game of his 3-match ban, the goal-scoring responsibilities will rest with Dickinson, Caygill, Anderson, McLachlan and Colman. Although given his record so far this season, perhaps the time is right to throw Grant Hickman up front. After all, he does score from anywhere.


  1. Looking forward to seeing mac and caygill
    Given more opportunities at starting....

  2. How about Carl Chillingsworth from Richmond Town or Ben Darville

  3. Ben Darville definitely not the required standard. Charlie Cox from Richmond Mavericks could be useful at this level.

  4. Colman deserves his chance, got the ability just needs game time. Yeah get Chilli back, still got a few years left in him