Date: 14th May 2017 at 9:56am
Written by:

The season is done, the dust is settling on the League Two title winning season, but still I cannot help feel a little sense of injustice towards an unsung Pompey hero, Matt Clarke.

Ahead of the end of season awards being dished out it was my opinion Clarke would be a fitting Player of the Year winner. Do not get me wrong, the likes of Enda Stevens and Christian Burgess were players I thought were unquestionably in the running.

Burgess picked up a few, Kal Naismith several as did Stevens, including the top honour of Player of the Year, the former Aston Villa full back was later announced as Players’ Player of the Year too – now he’s off to Sheffield United.

However, Clarke, didn’t get a mention, which is criminal for me as he was Mr consistency throughout the 2016-17 season.

When PompeyFrippy, who is doing a series of player reviews for the League Two champions, saw his article on Clarke go out of the front pages I’d commented on what a signing he was from Ipswich, and what a deal we had done involving Adam Webster.

I said: ‘Ipswich got a cracking player in Adam Webster, who I was really sad to see leave, but WHAT a signing Matt Clarke has been. Perfectly suited to battle in league two with the ability, quality and (most of all) time to grow into a Championship, if not Premier League footballer. To get Clarke, cash and a sell-on clause with Webster from Ipswich was a great deal. Clarke would have been my Player of the Year to be honest, but not going to argue against Enda Stevens, gutting he’ll move on, hopefully we can keep Clarkey though?’

It doesn’t happen often, I admit I do talk a load of old nonsense on the whole, but scott mc agreed with me.

They said: ‘Agree, he was mine too. Though of course any of the back 4 had a good claim. Shame that Clarkey didn’t pick up a single one (?) of the PotY awards. Most of the awards (I think) other than the ‘official’ (Stevens) & Player’s own (Enda again), went to Kal Naismith, with Christian Burgess getting the rest.’

My retort, including view Burgess’, not that his performances were not top class mind, impromptu training session with local kids swayed some – what a gesture this was though, worthy of great recognition – also looked at Naismith.

‘A real shame wasn’t it scott mc. Burgess was impressive, but how much of this was aided by Clarke? Don’t get me wrong Burgess deserved the plaudits but I cannot helped but feel his ‘flair’ got him the nod and, which warranted praise alone, that impromptu coaching session he did with some local kids helped. Naismith, yes can good at the right time, a crucial time, but Player of the YEAR by so many groups? Really?!’

In the mind of scott mc, mine too, Clarke has been an unsung hero.

They added: ‘Agree again – Burgess was great – though his (2 or 3) mistakes normally led to a goal. Very good, but catches the eye a little more. Fair comment on the Bransbury (Milton?) Park bit too. He is a possible Captain candidate too. BUT: Clarke was arguably more *consistent* – every game (almost) 7 or 8/10. Excellent in the air, & up against some big (& pacy) forwards too. Yet pace not necessarily his strongest point. Unsung hero. Naismith – superb (last *third* of the season!), it could be argued that’s what got us up, but until half-way, wasn’t featuring that much.’

Stevens and Burgess, deserved Player of the Year award winners, but, as well as he played and as crucial as he was at the right time, if Naismith can be viewed as a Player of the YEAR it’s a crying shame Clarke, who might have missed the opening months, couldn’t for his contribution.

Maybe this will come next season, well, assuming we’re able to keep hold of him as clubs will surely be looking at him?


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