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Archived News from July 2020

9th July 2020 13:43

Tenacious midfielder pens Stags' deal
mansfieldtown.net, Wed 01 July 2020 6am

Mansfield Town is delighted to announce the signing of former Bristol Rovers captain Ollie Clarke on a two-year contract.

The 28-year-old reunites with boss Graham Coughlan, who appointed the midfielder as his skipper when manager at The Memorial Ground.

A product of the club’s academy, Clarke made his Rovers’ first team debut in the final game of the 2010/11 season and has since represented the Gas in over 250 matches.

The tenacious midfielder won back-to-back promotions with his hometown club as well as two Player of the Year accolades.


Manager Graham Coughlan told http://www.mansfieldtown.net: “Ollie is a top player who has showed his capabilities in League One.

“I’ve brought him to Mansfield because of his character, work-rate, attitude, commitment and honesty; Ollie epitomises everything about Mansfield Town Football Club.

“I think he’ll be a real fans’ favourite here, like he has been at Bristol Rovers in the past ten seasons.”

After signing, Ollie said: “I worked with the manager last season, along with Joe Dunne (assistant manager), and really enjoyed it.

“As soon as I spoke to them, and I knew they were interested, I just wanted to get the deal done.

“I like the way he [Graham Coughlan] works and trust his views on the game, and this is a club which is looking to progress. They were big factors in me coming here.”


Ollie Clarke eager to work with Graham Coughlan once again after joining Mansfield Town
chad.co.uk, by By Stephen Thirkill, Wednesday, 1st July 2020

The former Bristol Rovers midfielder has been reunited with his former Gas boss after signing a two year contract with Stags.

And Clarke admits the lure of working with the no nonsense Irish man once again was enough to wrench him away from his home town club.

“He is straight down the line, he is fair and honest and you know what you are getting,” he said.


“I like the way he is committed. He will reward you if you are doing well, if you’re not doing well he would take your days off away from you.

“He gets the results out of you from hard work and grit and determination and that is something I like to think I bring to my game. Perhaps it is one of the reasons we get on so well.

“We had a close bond and would share texts and our thoughts after games. I carried on speaking to him after he left Bristol and wished him all the best.

“He got a Bristol side not firing on all cylinders and not fit enough, he got us playing a certain style of football that was effective and turned it around.

“It might not have been the prettiest but he knew how to get results.

“I'm very excited to be at Mansfield. As soon as I knew Mansfield was interested, I wanted to join.”

Clarke began his playing career at Rovers in 2009 after progressing through the youth ranks and went on to play 235 times for the Pirates.

During that he enjoyed plenty of success during that period as he helped Rovers progress from the National League to League One.

And he admits calling time on his 11 year Rovers career was a huge decision which he did not take lightly.

“It was a massive decision and one I gave a lot of thought to,” Clarke added.

“The club has been a massive part of my life for 15 years and has been very good to me over the years.

“It was a massive decision to move away. A lot of friends and family would come and watch me each week up and down the country.

“In the back of the mind I knew I wanted to try something new. I wanted to experience new things and leave Bristol, because I’ve not experienced anything different.

“I told the Rovers manager I probably wouldn’t have the right mentality if I came back and I wanted something fresh and to try something new.

“Do I stay or do I go was a big thing in the back of my mind, but I felt like I needed a new challenge.

“I needed to go and test myself somewhere else. I didn’t have a lot of ties to keep me in Bristol anymore so I felt now more than ever was the time to go try something new.”

Clarke now has his sights firmly set on winning another promotion with Mansfield, with the club’s facilities and ambitions a key reason why he signed up.

He added: “The training facilities here are immaculate which is one of the reasons I wanted to join. I like the way the manager works and I trust his views on the game.

“This is a club looking to progress through the leagues, I want to try and win promotions and it is a good opportunity here to get one.

“The things you can cherish as a footballer are medals. That is what I want to achieve and that is why I have come to Mansfield.”


David Sharpe @DavidSharpe91
Some more great news for you this morning! Welcome to the stags @ollieclarke29

John Radford @JRadfordMTFC
Delighted to welcome Ollie to the #Stags’ family.
Along with his experience and engine in the middle of the park, he knows well the gaffer’s methods and philosophy, and will be a fine addition to the squad we’re building.
More great business by @DavidSharpe91.


twitter @d3d4football

Ollie Clarke 2019-20 Bristol Rovers
58 successful dribbles (1st on team)
24 chances created (2nd on team)
22 completed key passes (3rd on team)
Top, top signing


'New challenge' - Ollie Clarke explains why he rejected Bristol Rovers deal as Mansfield Town loom
Ollie Clarke has turned down a new deal with his boyhood club, and he is poised to reunite with his former boss

bristolpost.co.uk, By Sam Frost, 30 JUN 2020

Ollie Clarke says “it’s time for a new challenge” after it was announced his 15-year stint at Bristol Rovers has come to an end.

The Gas captain has rejected a new contract and is set to join League Two Mansfield Town on a free transfer, reuniting with former boss Graham Coughlan.

Following Rovers’ announcement on Wednesday, the 28-year-old took to social media to thank Gasheads for their support.

“To everyone connected with Bristol Rovers today is the day for me to say goodbye,” Clarke wrote.


“I joined this amazing club 15 years ago and never could I have imagined the journey I’d go on.

“To win two promotions and play over 250 games and to have been captain is something I’ll always be proud of.

“I’d like to that all the players and staff down the years who have helped me along the way. It’s been incredible.

“Finally to the fans who have supported me it really has been greatly appreciated. The atmosphere and the Mem is special and I will miss it greatly.

“For me now it’s time for a new challenge and one I’m looking forward to, so thank you again.”

Clarke was close to agreeing a new deal with Rovers, which would have included a testimonial as reward for a decade in the first team, but Bristol Live revealed on Tuesday Coughlan and the Stags swooped in late to take the midfielder to Nottinghamshire.

The allure of a fresh start for Bristol-born Clarke, who made 269 appearances after his debut in 2011, has proved too strong to resist, and Ben Garner will need a new captain in place when Rovers return to the pitch.


Breaking: Bristol Rovers confirm Ollie Clarke departure as Mansfield Town move nears
The club captain leaves Bristol Rovers after more than 200 appearances for his boyhood club

bristolpost.co.uk, By Sam Frost, 30 JUN 2020

Bristol Rovers have confirmed club captain Ollie Clarke will leave the club after turning down a new contract amid interest from League Two Mansfield Town.

The 28-year-old played more than 200 senior games for his boyhood club after graduating from the academy, but his time at the Mem is over.

The midfielder is poised to reunite with former Gas boss Graham Coughlan at Mansfield on a free transfer after the Dubliner made a late move to secure Clarke's signature.

Clarke and the Gas were close to agreeing a new contract as negotiations dragged on over the summer, but the Bristol-born man has opted for a fresh start at Field Mill.

Rovers CEO Martyn Starnes paid tribute to the departing skipper on the club's website.


"We want to thank Ollie for his contribution and services during his time at the club," Starnes said.

"Ollie has been a terrific servant to Bristol Rovers over the past decade, with a highlight reel of memories to choose from, which has earned him the label of a fan-favourite.

"We had been negotiating a new deal with Ollie, with the offer of a testimonial to mark his decade long service, but he felt the time was right for him to seek a fresh start elsewhere.

"We respect his decision and he leaves the Club with our best wishes as he embarks upon the next step of his career."

Mansfield have been aggressive in the transfer market this summer, and Clarke also has a strong bond with Coughlan, who awarded the midfielder the captaincy following the departure of Tom Lockyer.

Clarke, from Portishead, played 269 games for the Gas in all competitions, scoring 21 goals including some memorable strikes in the back-to-back promotion seasons under Darrell Clarke.

He made his debut in 2011 before cementing his place in the first team in 2013/14.

In what proved to be his final season at the Mem, the captain struggled for consistency, but Rovers boss Ben Garner was keen to for Clarke to stay nonetheless.

The player, however, believes the time is right to move on and Rovers will have a new captain leading them out of the tunnel when the club returns to action.


Ex-Bristol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan makes late attempt to sign Ollie Clarke for Mansfield Town
The Bristol Rovers captain's contract expires at midnight

bristolpost.co.uk, By Sam Frost, 30 JUN 2020

Mansfield Town have made a late attempt to sign Bristol Rovers captain Ollie Clarke, Bristol Live understands.

The out-of-contract midfielder was close to agreeing terms with Rovers on a one-year extension, but his former boss Graham Coughlan has made a last-ditch attempt for his signature.

Coughlan has previous, trying - and failing - to sign Gas defender Rollin Menayese on deadline day in January, but his move for Clarke could be more successful with the Stags favourites to sign the 28-year-old.

Dubliner Coughlan handed Clarke the Rovers armband following the departure of Tom Lockyer last summer.

Of the squad who were part of the Coughlan era, Clarke is the closest to the now Stags manager and contacted him directly when he left Rovers.

Read more at https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/ex-bristol-rovers-boss-graham-4277194

Should Clarke swap the Mem for Field Mill, he would be forfeiting a testimonial earned for 10 years of service with the Gas.

Rovers and their skipper have been negotiating since the turn of the year, with the coronavirus outbreak complicating matters, but with days remaining on his contract - which expires on at midnight - the parties were on the verge of inking a new deal.

However, the League Two side - well backed by chairman John Radford - have come in late and may have gazumped Rovers’ offer.

The Stags have been aggressive in the transfer market this summer, one of the reasons Coughlan quit Rovers when they were flying high in League One in December for the League Two strugglers.

The Nottinghamshire side won the battle for sought-after Torquay United striker Jamie Reid and have brought in several other free agents with experience higher up the EFL pyramid already this summer.

Clarke played 33 games for the Gas in his first season with the armband, and Ben Garner is keen to have him around for next season.

Garner has frequently insisted he wants local lads in his team, emphasised by the professional contracts given to academy graduates this summer, and he wants the 28-year-old to stay not only for his playing ability but also as evidence of the pathway from academy to first-team.

Clarke’s experience, having been in the Gas first team for almost a decade and playing more than 200 games for the club, would also be valuable to the Rovers boss - who released Football League veterans Tony Craig and Liam Sercombe earlier this month.

But Garner faces a battle with his predecessor for his captain’s services.



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