It’s probably fair to say that Billy Clarke’s second spell at Bradford City didn’t go quite as well as the first.
While his first spell at Valley Parade saw him rack up well over 100 appearances in all competitions for the Bantams as an established League One club between 2014 and 2017, that return to the club was much briefer, and likely far less enjoyable for Clarke.
After joining Charlton at the end of the 2016/17 season, the striker reunited with Bradford in January 2019, when he rejoined from the Addicks, but after adding just 14 appearances to his tally for the Bantams, Clarke was released by the club at the end of that same season, after relegation to League Two was confirmed.
Following that departure from Valley Parade, the challenge of finding a new club proved to be a difficult one for Clarke, with a move to Bolton falling through following the departure of his former Bradford manager Phil Parkinson from the crisis-hit League One club.
Eventually however, Clarke would find a club, when it was confirmed in October that he had joined Plymouth – one of those sides relegated from League One alongside Bradford at the end of last season – on a short term deal.
Unfortunately for Clarke though, that move would not pan out in the way he would have wanted, with the striker starting just three of the 12 appearances for the Pilgrims, failing to score.
As a result, it was perhaps not surprising that Clarke’s time at Home Park would last just a few months, with the 32-year-old released by Plymouth in January.
This time however, Clarke would move quickly to secure himself a new club, with his arrival at another League Two side – Grimsby Town – on a deal until the end of the season confirmed on the same day his release from Plymouth was announced, and it didn’t take long for the 32-year-old to make an impact for the Mariners.
After being brought on as a second-half substitute away at Leyton Orient just two days after his move to Grimsby, Clarke opened the scoring with his first goal for the club in what would ultimately finish a 1-1 draw.
Since then, Clarke has gone on to make himself something of a regular feature in Ian Holloway’s side, featuring in every one of the eight games the club have played since he joined, adding a second goal to his Grimsby tally with a penalty in a 3-1 win over struggling Stevenage.
Those contributions have helped his new side pick up 12 points from those eight games, allowing the Mariners to establish themselves comfortably in mid-table.
It seems therefore, that after months of uncertainty, Clarke has finally found a club where he can settle down to focus on football, and if he can continue to make the sort of impact he already has in the coming weeks, there may be no reason for him not to secure a new contract at Blundell Park, beyond the end of the current season.