There have been many solid veteran defenders to pass through the Football League to over the years that will play on until their 30’s to a decent level, but maybe none fit that mould more than Peter Clarke.
Clarke’s professional career started out over 20 years ago now when signing a contract with Everton as a teenager, where he made nine Premier League appearances over the years for the Toffees.
He would forge a career for himself in the EFL though, starting with Blackpool who he joined in 2004 after an initial spell with the Seasiders on loan a couple of years prior, as well as temporary switches to Port Vale and Coventry City.
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Clarke won Player of the Year awards in both of his seasons at Bloomfield Road before stepping up to the Championship with Southend United, where he spent three seasons before making the move to Huddersfield.
Picking up where he left off at his previous two clubs, the no-nonsense centre-back was immediately appointed captain of the Terriers and for the first two seasons he was named the club’s Player of the Year.
Both of those campaigns ended up with play-off defeats, firstly in the semi-finals to Millwall then the final to Peterborough in 2011, but one year later they finally achieved glory with a penalty shootout victory over Sheffield United.
Clarke remained a regular when they were promoted to the Championship but he missed a chunk of the 2013-14 campaign due to an injury and with his contract up at the end of that season, the defender was not offered a new one at the age of 32 and subsequently departed – but what’s he been up to since?
After departing Huddersfield Clarke returned to a familiar location of Blackpool and it wouldn’t be long before he was reunited with the man who brought him to the John Smith’s Stadium in Lee Clark who was to take over as manager of the Tangerines.
Surprisingly Clarke lasted just one season back at Bloomfield Road despite being told he was to be offered a new deal, despite the club’s relegation to League One – Clark was sacked as manager and Clarke ended up with no fresh contract as a result.
Clarke ended up at Bury in the summer of 2015 and was a key part of their season as they finished 16th in League One, with Clarke playing all but one match and like at his past clubs was named the Player of the Year.
Continuing his tour of the Football League’s north west clubs, Clarke headed to Oldham Athletic in 2016 – and it was another team where he was named the club captain immediately owing to his experience in the game.
In his three seasons at Boundary Park, Clarke was named Player of the Year twice but he did re-join Bury on loan for half a season in 2017-18 – that was despite pretty much being a regular still for Oldham.
Clarke swapped Oldham for Fleetwood for half a season in 2019, but despite scoring three goals in 17 matches he was powerless to break up the partnership of Ash Eastham and young Harry Souttar – who is doing well for himself now at Stoke – and he made the move to Tranmere in January 2020.
That is where he remains to this very day – the pandemic restricted him to just six appearances in the 2019-20 season but Clarke played every single minute of last season’s League Two campaign and now at the age of 39 he continues to feature regularly for the Super White Army, and is even their top scorer this season with three goals.
Clarke ages like a fine wine and there’s no telling as to when his career will actually end – it doesn’t seem like it will be any time soon with the way he’s playing.