Former Everton defender Peter Clarke is the latest guest in our Bred A Blue podcast series.
Still going strong as captain of League Two promotion chasing Tranmere Rovers – almost twenty-one years after making his debut for Everton – Clarke turns 40 years of age on 3 January.
It was January 2001 when Walter Smith handed him his senior bow at Highfield Road against Coventry City, sending him on to replace Alec Cleland after 32 minutes.
Sadly for Clarke, who joined the Blues when he was eleven, it wasn’t to be the start of a long career with the Club – he would make just thirteen more appearances before being released in 2004.
“I gave it everything I had and I’m not ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears when I walked out of Bellefield for the last time,” he told the Official Eveton Podcast.
Clarke agrees with the suggestion that the departure of Walter Smith and the arrival of David Moyes at Everton happened at the wrong time for him. Moyes needed results straight away and was always likely to side with more experienced defenders.
“I always felt I was mature enough to have coped with the situation, but I didn’t get enough opportunities under David Moyes,” claims Clarke, who also adds that he still feels he was unfairly judged after the infamous FA Cup defeat against Shrewsbury Town in 2003. “I was always fighting a losing battle after that.”
Since leaving Everton, the Southport-born defender has given sterling service to Blackpool, Southend United, Huddersfield Town, Bury, Oldham Athletic, Fleetwood Town and Tranmere, racking up over 900 professional appearances and collecting a plethora of Player of the Season trophies along the way.
He still harbours immense affection for Everton Football Club and he stresses his gratitude for the grounding he got during his days with the Academy, the reserves (playing against the likes of Fowler, Cole, Yorke and Viduka) and the first team. And, as he says with a smile, “It’s not bad to be the last remaining team-mate of Paul Gascoigne to still be playing!”
Listen to our Bred A Blue podcast with Peter Clarke below or by clicking here!
To catch up on other episodes of Bred A Blue, featuring guests including Scott Brown, Adam Davies and Shane Duffy, click here.