Former Bristol Rovers, Sheff Utd, QPR, Wolves striker finds new club after eight months

Leon Clarke’s last club was Bristol Rovers - and after an eight-month wait, he is back in the game

Leon Clarke has joined League Two club Hartlepool United on a short-term deal until the end of the season, eight months after leaving Bristol Rovers.

The 38-year-old was released by the Gas in May 2022, and played a small role in helping them get promoted from League Two last season. He played 11 times and scored two goals, but his time at the Memorial Stadium was hampered by a long-term injury which ruled him out for most of the campaign.

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Clarke joined at the end of August in 2021, and scored on his debut against Crawley, but in his second match he would be sidelined through a hamstring injury. He returned in January, and scored the winning goal away at Scunthorpe United, which helped put the West Country club on their way to promotion. Clarke had further spells out of the side in both February, March and April but came on as a substitute in the 7-0 win that clinched their return to the third tier.

Since leaving the Gas, the only note of him going anywhere, was a trial at Scottish Championship club Abroath, where he trained in January. Clarke ended up not joining up with Dick Campbell's side, but did head to the northern part of England for his next club after a trial period with the Pools.

“We’ve signed Leon," manager Keith Curle said to the Hartlepool Mail. It got finalised today. People might say he’s 38-years-old but age is just a number. The lad looks after himself. He’s fit and he’s keen.

“I think I signed for Sheffield United in the Championship at the age of 37 and still understood the game. He knows what’s required.

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“He’s got a good goalscoring record, the lad can score goals. He’s a physical presence and he is a presence. He understands the game and we’ve got an opportunity to partner strikers up front. I think they will enjoy playing with him.

“He’s not coming here for a pay-cheque. He’s on a performance-related contract which means he scores goals, we win games and that’s how he earns his wages.

“I think that’s something a lot of first and second division clubs will be looking at, incentive-related pay for lower league clubs. I think that’s the way forward."

Hartlepool United will be Clarke's 21st club in his 20-year playing career, which began with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League, and now in League Two with Curle's side. He also played for both Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, as well as QPR, and Wigan Athletic.

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His most prolific scoring spell at a club came when he scored 15 goals in 23 matches for Coventry, after joining on a permanent deal. He has made 518 appearances in his senior career with 153 goals and 34 assists, with most coming in League One. At League Two level, he only made 17 appearances and hit the back of the net three times.

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