COMMENT: Lee Clarke leaves as St Albans City opt for youth

Lee Clarke skips past a challenge. Picture: Leigh Page

Lee Clarke skips past a challenge. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Football is a young man’s game; Lee Clarke was reminded of that this week.

Charlie Gorman

Charlie Gorman - Credit: Archant

St Albans City jettisoned the club legend on Saturday, instead opting for younger players. Clarke, who has made over 200 appearances for the Saints in two spells, will be replaced by 19-year-old Matt Taylor and Charlie Gorman, 20, who have made 67 appearances combined.

The 31-year-old was the second oldest member of a midfield that now has an average age of 23.25, and Steve Wales, at 32, is bringing it up by over a year.

Was it a popular move to get rid of Clarke? Absolutely not, especially for a club struggling to get the fans on side after an admission price nightmare for a Herts Senior Cup tie. Was it the right move? Absolutley.

Clarke, undoubtably one of the club’s top earners, was a bit-part player at best and, at this point in his career, James Comley and Sam Corcoran are better players.

Two of his appearances this season came as a lone striker and while he performed admirably, that role belongs to John Frendo for the foreseeable future.

“You need experienced players at this level but you also need to give the young lads games,” said joint manager James Gray after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Whitehawk.

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In the end, Gray and Graham Golds decided that giving their young crop of players minutes in the Conference South was more important than experience.

Gray also insisted that City have enough quality to compete this season, but that won’t include Clarke, who many expect will join former Saints Paul Bastock and Tom Ward at St Neots Town.

“Lee wasn’t playing as much as he’d like so we said maybe it’s time for a new challenge. I’m sure there’ll be clubs looking to take him,” said Gray.

It won’t be with City, though, who are blooding their youth for the future.