NOW IT’S NATHAN’S GO FOR GLORY
LEAGUE ONE PLAY- Only one Clarke will be at Wembley
NATHAN CLARKE could have been battling with his brother for a place in the Championship next Sunday had Preston made it past Rotherham in the playoff semi-finals.
But the Leyton Orient captain still says leading his side out at Wembley will rank as the greatest achievement of his career so far.
Two days after the O’s had secured their place in the play-off final with a 3-2 aggregate win over Peterborough, the elder of the Clarke siblings watched on in angst as 26-year-old Tom failed to prevent North End slipping to defeat against Rotherham on Thursday. The pair, who both started their careers
at Hud- dersfield, have followed each other’s careers through thick and thin since they left the Terriers.
And Orient captain Clarke says his brother should be there cheering him on again in the final.
“I had a good luck message from my brother before the match and I had the well done message afterwards,” said the 30-year-old.
“We’re fairly close as brothers, we support each other as much as we can. We’re both desperate to go that one step further.
“I’m so proud of him as well, it’s a fantastic achievement to get in the play-offs – it’s hard work and he’s worked hard as a kid and I’m really pleased for him.
“I would think he would come to support me at Wembley. We’ve tried to support each other throughout our careers.
“If they would have qualified it would have been a strange one for our parents! But I want to
play in the Cham- pionship so much and I want to lead this team out in the Championship.”
The last time Clarke visited Wembley he was the one screaming from the stands, while Tom was an unused substitute, in Huddersfield’s 2012 League One play-off final victory over Sheffield United.
But the towering defender admits it will be a proud moment when he leads his side out against Rotherham.
“It’s a magnificent stadium, you’re desperate play there and I’m thrilled we’ve got that chance. Leading the team out at Wembley will be the highlight of my career, 100 per cent,” he added.
“To be a captain leading your team out at Wembley is right up there with the best feelings that you can get.
“I was in the stands at Wembley a couple of years ago when Huddersfield beat Sheffield United on penalties and that was the only time I’ve been to the new Wembley.
“I’ve been to the old Wembley and to Cardiff and when I was there with Huddersfield I was thinking I’d give anything to be out there one day and even when you watch it on TV you want to be there.” Now he is there Clarke insists it doesn’t matter if Orient go into the game against the Millers as underdogs.
He claims they have been battling against the odds all season.
“I was very emotional after the Peterborough win – it’s a massive achievement and I’m so proud of all the lads,” he continued.
“It’s been a tough season but we’ve stuck together and it’s turned out that we get a trip to Wembley which is fantastic for the players, fantastic for this club and the fans as well.
“We’re going to have a right go and look forward to the challenge of such a big day.
“The fans have been with us throughout, and full credit to them they got right behind the lads from the word go (against Peterborough).
“I’m so pleased for everyone associated with the club and I hope we can go that one step further.
“These occasions don’t come along very often and there’s some of the lads who have never been in a play-off situation before so it’s a massive achievement.We look forward to a massive day at Wembley and we’ll be raring to go.
“We’ve been underdogs throughout the season so it doesn’t bother me that we’ll be seen as underdogs for the final – it certainly doesn’t bother any of the lads.
“If that’s the case then fair enough but we’ll just concentrate on ourselves, we know the quality we’ve got in this squad and we’ll be ready to perform.”
WEMBLEY-BOUND: Nathan Clarke and Jamie Jones celebrate after their win over Peterborough
ON ITS WAY IN: Dean Cox, left, fires home Orient’s first goal STAR MAN DEAN COX Orient