LEAGUE ONE PLAY- Only one Clarke will be at Wem­b­ley

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jamie Holt

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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