Timmy Clarke – 100 Not out!
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Timmy Clarke made his 100th appearance for Distillery in the PIL game against Banbridge Town at New Grosvenor on 22nd February 2020.
At the start of the 2016/17 season Timmy was one of manager Colin McIlwaine’s early signings from amateur team Nortel. When at Nortel, Timmy had represented the Northern Amateur Football League twice in their annual challenge match with the Scottish Amateur Football Association for the ‘Britton Rosebowl’. He took part in the game at Killyleagh on 11th May 2014 when the Irish lads had a rare victory over their Scottish counterparts. That game saw him play alongside five other team-mates with Distillery connections: — Barry Moore, Aaron Harris, Gareth Ringland, Ally Wilson and Peter McCann as well as manager Paul Kirk.
Timmy is a versatile player down the left side who is comfortable at left back or left wing and he made his Distillery debut on 16th August 2016 in a PIL game at Bangor. The team that day was: — Jack McCrea; Darren Doherty, Barry Moore; Steven Hislop, Stephen Curley, Tyrell McCrory; Alan McMurtry, Aaron Harris, Paul Young, Johnny McCaw, Timmy Clarke. Sub: Marcus Beattie for McMurtry. Paul Young was also making his debut that day and he scored along with Johnny McCaw in a 2-2 draw.
Timmy made a total of 32 appearances that season, missing only 5 games and his versatility saw him play in seven different positions for the team. Note that he first played at left bank in the ignominious 11-1 League Cup defeat at Cliftonville!
Timmy scored two goals that season: — He scored his first Distillery goal in a one-side 10-1 victory over Camlough Rovers in the Intermediate Cup on 22nd October 2016 at New Grosvenor. After setting-up Alan McMurtry for the Whites fifth goal in the 35th minute after another driving run down the left, he got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half with the White’s seventh goal. A cross from McMurtry evades Mason McSorley and landed at the unmarked Clarke’s feet. He had time to set himself before rifling the ball high into the far corner of the goal giving the keeper no chance.
His second goal of the season was scored on 10th December 2016 in a 2-0 PIL victory at Newry City. The Whites took the lead in the 24th minute when Aaron Harris played the ball out wide to the marauding Timmy Clarke and he delivered a perfect cross into the penalty area for Darren Bell to head home. In the 81st minute Johnny McCaw and Clarke exchanged passes for Clarke to beat the offside trap and as the keeper came out Timmy calmly picked his spot before blasting the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar from 18 yards.
He played a significant part in the three crucial games at the end of the season to avoid relegation. A disastrous run of 9 games without a win from early February 2017, had seen the team plummet from 5th down to 11th with a serious chance of relegation to another dimension. So with only four matches remaining, the Whites (25 pts) travelled to Sport & Leisure Swifts (24 pts) in a ‘do-or-die’ situation on Tuesday 18th April 2017. The pressure was enormous, but the team rose to the occasion and put on one of their most impressive performances of the season. Aaron Harris put the Whites in front on 16 minutes, then further goals from Alan McMurtry (pen) and Paul Young gave a 3-0 cushion. Sport & Leisure pulled a goal back and bombarded the Whites resolute defence in the second half. Then on 75 minutes the Whites broke away and Aaron Harris fired in his second goal to seal a crucial 4-1 victory. Timmy came on as sub in the second half.
Four days later on 22nd April they had to beat Bangor at home to ensure safety. After a very tentative opening by both sides, Paul Young opened the scoring in the 29th minute. Then 10 minutes later he scored a second. Bangor pulled one back from a penalty to put the pressure back on. However in the 67th minute McCaw scored a penalty to seal the important 3-1 victory. Timmy had a great game at left bank, putting in some last-ditch tackles and earning a booking.
They next played Newington at home on 25th April with Timmy operating on the left wing and had an emphatic 4-0 victory, with two goals each from Jonny McCaw and Paul Young. McCaw scored a penalty in the first minute and nine minutes later Paul Young beat the offside trap with a perfectly timed run and fired a shot from just outside the box which went in off the post. He repeated this move at the start of the second half, running in to round the keeper and slot home the third goal. After this Young turned provider when his inch-perfect pass from the wing allowed McCaw to tap in his second goal and seal the win.
Note that 9 different players were sent off that season and Timmy was not one of them!
In 2017/18 he again was a regular, making 36 appearances and missing only 2 games. Half of these games were at left back and a quarter on the left wing.
He scored two goals that season: — He scored against Sport & Leisure Swifts in a 3-0 PIL victory at New Grosvenor on 25th October 2017. It was a result that saw the Whites return to the top of the league. Distillery were two goals up through Aaron Harris and Matthew Ferguson when Timmy scored the third in the 84th minute. Harris crossed from the right but Ferguson missed an easy chance, however Timmy (a second half substitute on for Paul Young) surged in to smash the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.
He scored against Albert Foundry in the 3-1 Irish Cup victory at New Grosvenor on 2nd December 2017. With the Whites 2-1 up at halftime with goals from Aaron Harris and an Alan McMurtry penalty, Timmy sealed the win in the 52nd minute with a curling goal-bound cross that went in off a defender.
In 2018/19 he only made 15 appearances due to injury. He started the season at left back but picked up an injury in September which kept him out until February. He returned at left wing as Conor Curran was the regular left back by then.
So far in 2019/20 Timmy has made 17 appearances to complete his century. Those 100 appearances include 19 as sub.
Timmy Clarke is a key player in the Distillery squad. An intelligent solid defender, tenacious tackler and very versatile player. He is also a determined and dangerous attacker. Exciting to watch when he is flying down the left wing at speed to send in tantalising crosses.
Timmy has won several awards at the Whites: — he was the Grosvenor Whites Player of the Season for 2017/18 and has won the Echlinville Distillery Player of the Month in November 2019 (his second such award having won Player of the Month in January 2017).
So, Timmy many congratulations on your 100 appearances. You now join the list of recent recipients of this landmark: — Aaron Harris, Paul Young, Nick Beta and Jonny McCaw.
Compiled by Dawson Simpson
All statistics up to 25-2-2020.
All statistics up to 25-2-2020.