Where are they now? The Bristol Rovers team thrashed by Doncaster in Darrell Clarke’s last game as Gas boss
Darrell Clarke saw plenty of players come and go but what are the last side he fielded up to now?
For five years, Clarke was an assistant manager and later became the head honcho, overseeing a relegation out of the Football League as well as two consecutive promotions.
After posters of ‘Clarke Out’ were plastered around the ground, the 43-year-old changed the perception of the fan base and he is now a beloved figure.
Unfortunately though, his time as manager at the Mem ended with a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Doncaster Rovers.
John Marquis put the Yorkshire side ahead, before Tom Anderson scored in between Mallik Wilks’ brace.
After standing in the home dugout, he left five-days later in which he criticised the club for the lack of development of a new stadium and training ground.
Rovers have since made a new training ground at Hortham Lane and have recently began discussions on erecting a 20,000 stadium at the fruit market, though that remains in its early stages.
With much changed since in the last three years, we take a look at Clarke’s last team to take to the field.
Joining on a season-long loan from Brentford, Rovers was the fourth loan spell of Bonham’s career after
In total, he made more than 40 appearances as Rovers’ first-choice goalkeeper.
Now one of four senior first-choice keepers at Stoke City, behind Joe Bursik and Adam Davies.
A loanee from Stevenage, he didn’t stay around long and made 10 appearances during a loan spell before returning to his parent club, who were in the division below at the time. He made five appearances for them but was later released and joined Northampton Town where he played for a season-and-a-half.
A return to Stevenage came last season but after being released for a second time, he dropped down two levels to join Ebbsfleet United in the National League South.
Joining from Millwall, Craig came to the Mem with over 500 appearances in the Football League.
Craig was a reliable player and barely missed a game, racking up 120 games for the club. After the 2019/20 season was curtailed he was released.
The 36-year-old now plays for Rovers’ league rivals Crawley Town and lined up against his former club in the 1-0 defeat in early September.
Tom Lockyer was given his start in professional football by Rovers after being released by Cardiff City, who deemed him too short to play as a centre-back. Funnily enough Lockyer grew to six foot one and has played in his favoured position since.
The 27-year-old made his 200th appearance back in 2017 and was one of the players that bounced back to the Football League after their relegation. After Clarke’s departure, he stayed until the end of the season but his contract expired and he took a chance at Charlton.
Lockyer joined the Addicks on a two-year deal and made 43 appearances in the second-tier, but didn’t stay around for the second year of his deal and moved to Luton Town after Charlton were relegated. Lockyer has been with the Hatters ever since and has played 14 times for the Welsh national team, and was called up to their EURO 2020 squad.
James Clarke tended to follow Clarke to the clubs that he managed. He played for him at Oxford City and Salisbury City before joining Rovers in 2015.
The centre-back made 112 appearances for the club in total and stayed until 2019 until you guessed it... He reunited with Clarke at Walsall, where he played for two seasons.
His contract was not renewed by the Saddlers after Clarke’s departure and he joined Newport County in June.
Signed in 2017 for an undisclosed fee from Eastleigh for what they say was a club record fee, Joe Partington had two seasons-and-a-half in Bristol. He helped the side to 10th, 13th and 15th placed finishes.
At the end of the 2018/19 season he was offered a new deal after tallying up 63 appearances but instead opted to return to the non-league game.
Rejoining Eastleigh, he decided to pursue a new business which focused on fitness in Hampshire where he was based.
He stayed for two seasons but later joined their league rivals Bromley.
An academy product of Bristol Rovers’ academy, Clarke made his first-team appearance in 2011 and went on to make 250 appearances. Another player who stayed during their relegation and then oversaw his two promotions, the hometown midfielder was a loyal servant.
After ten years of service and ending the season as club captain he rejected a new deal. He joined Nigel Clough’s Mansfield Town, penning a two-year deal where he is also skipper.
So good that he had three separate spells with the club, Chris Lines is adored by Gas fans. An academy product, he battled back from being released to going on to play in the FA Cup quarter-finals in his first spell unde Paul Trollope. He moved on to the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons and Port Vale but found himself back at Rovers on loan and then permanently.
Clarke brought him back and in a four-year spell, he took his appearances in total to 357, helping them from the non-league to League One.
As one of Clarke’s trusted servants, he wasn’t kept on by the club and dropped down a division to join Northampton Town, where he spent a season-and-a-half. In January he joined Stevenage and that is his current club now.
Liam Sercombe’s career has been floating in between League One and Two, starting his career with Exeter City before a two-year spell at Oxford. Sercombe was brought to the Mem and became an influential figure in the midfield, playing 48 times that season and scoring two goals.
He remained for the start of Clarke’s final season and made one appearance fewer but remained important. The season after however he made less than half of what he had over the last seasons and was not kept on. The 31-year-old joined Cheltenham Town and last year won promotion to League One.
Rovers were in need of some strikers after Matty Taylor was sold on Deadline Day to bitter rivals Bristol City.
Nichols was one striker that they checked out but unfortunately it just didn’t work out for him.
In the three years that he had at the club, he made over 117 appearances but could only return nine goals.
Nichols is at the same club as his former Rovers teammate Tony Craig, with the pair now plying their trade at Crawley Town.
Signed from losing play-off finalists Shrewsbury Town for an undisclosed fee in August 2018, Payne came to Rovers as the Salop’s top scorer. His time though was brief at the club, he returned to Shrewsbury in January 2019 and then had his contract terminated by mutual consent.
He joined Tranmere Rovers who had been promoted to League One and scored four goals, before being loaned out to Grimsby Town.
Payne’s contract was not renewed by the Mariners and he later joined non-league Chesterfield.
Alex Jakubiak, the man who had nine loan spells in his career at just 25-years-old. Rovers were the seventh club that Watford had shipped him out to and in his season at the club, he scored five goals in 46 appearances. He would be loaned out to league rivals Gillingham for the first part of the 2019/20 campaign and then join Scottish Premiership side St Mirren. He is now playing in Scotland for his just the second permanent club in his career, Dundee.
Alex Rodman is the only first-team player from the Darrell Clarke era from this team to still be contracted to the club. Signed from Shrewsbury during the same period as Stefan Payne, winger Rodman made 34 appearances for the club and impressed both Clarke and Graham Coughlan. He unfortunately missed a lot of the 2020/21 season but made a return under Joey Barton, where he tried his best to keep the team up but unfortunately the team were relegated.
The 34-year-old has made four appearances in the current campaign but hasn’t featured since August.
Most remembered for his time at both Doncaster Rovers, where he made over 250 appearances, playing in the Championship, Bennett was brought to Rovers from Pompey on a free transfer in February 2018. He would appear 62 times for Rovers but last season was let go by Ben Garner after not awarding him a shirt number. He joined Grimsby Town on loan and played with former Rovers man Payne at Blundell Park. Bennett is now at AFC Telford United.