Belfast Telegraph

Richard Clarke on move after old pals have say

By Graham Luney

Richard Clarke sought the advice of old pals Paul Leeman and Michael Halliday before agreeing a two and a half year deal at Crusaders.

Ballinamallard United were also hopeful of landing the midfielder from Glentoran but, even though Clarke lives just 30 minutes away from Ferney Park, the lure of challenging for silverware has taken him to Seaview.

And the 28-year-old could make his debut for the Hatchetmen at the home of the Mallards tomorrow afternoon.

"Paul (Leeman) and Michael (Halliday) are really good friends of mine and I spoke to them to get their thoughts before I opted for Crusaders," said Clarke, who was at The Oval for four and a half years.

"I've known those guys since our Glentoran days and both of them could not speak more highly of the club. We all know how much experience those guys have and of course their word is good enough for me.

"There's an opportunity for me to challenge for trophies and guys like Paul Leeman are legends, not just great players but winners. We have a good friendship and his performance at the cup final showed us again why he is still a class act in this league.

"I'm looking forward to playing for Crusaders and regaining match fitness as I haven't started a game since December 20. Ferney Park is a great pitch and United are a great club with great people but the move to Crusaders is the right one for me.

"I had many good times at Glentoran and leave with no animosity. It's a move that will suit the club as well as they can build for the future.

"I think it's a good decision for everybody and I'll never forget the Irish Cup win last season. It wasn't always smooth going at Glentoran but players showed loyalty and winning a major trophy was a nice reward for everyone."

Clarke's old club Glentoran welcome Warrenpoint Town to The Oval while Portadown host Ballymena United.

Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine clash at Stangmore Park and at Mourneview Park it's Glenavon against basement side Ards.

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