11 Key Moments of 2011: No.2 – Leon Clarke & Mike Grella
No.2 – Leon Clarke & Mike Grella
A list of the top eleven moments of 2011 wouldn’t be right without the petulant Leon Clarke featuring somewhere. Even though the incident brought masses of negative publicity to the County Ground it’ll live long in our memories, so this justifies its placing at No.2 in our countdown of 2011.
Clarke played up perfectly to the visiting Sky TV cameras, leading to pictures of Di Canio ‘fighting with his own player’ being beamed around the world. Of course, all these shenanigans were much to the amazement of the delighted national press. They had their fingers hovered over the ‘Paolo’s Gone Mental’ button ever since he arrived back in May.
There’s no need to go over the Clarke incident again here in detail. If you want to read our views then you’ll find our initial reaction here, why the writing was always on the wall here and an interesting excerpt from Leon’s diary of his last week at the County Ground here.
The swift departure of Clarke was ultimately positive for both sides. In the next league game we beat Rotherham, albeit tarnished by Sky TV’s decision to concentrate on Di Canio’s every move in the dugout. From that point onwards we slowly built up momentum to put behind a disappointing start and get into the hunt for promotion.
At Chesterfield, Clarke stunned all by hitting 9 goals in 13 games. Despite being in the form of his career Paolo has already (rightly) dismissed a return to the County Ground for Leon. Fortunately for us Chesterfield and several other clubs are looking likely to take him off our hands in January.
Let us not forget that Clarke wasn’t the only stroppy and uncommitted striker we’ve seen at the County Ground in 2011.
Here Leon Clarke features alongside Mike Grella, who couldn’t wait to pack his bags and return to Yorkshire in April.
The American was a last ditch signing by Danny Wilson on loan from Leeds United in February until the end of the campaign. Grella would only play once under Wilson – in a 4-1 defeat at Southampton – so it was down to the incoming Paul Hart to get the best out of him.
In one of Hart’s ambitious moves he switched Grella into a wider position in his new 4-5-1 system. After six games and a single goal against Dagenham & Redbridge, Grella was dropped to the bench. When he missed out on being in the XI versus Brentford he didn’t show up, deciding to return to Leeds citing a lack of promised first team football under the new management.
The problem was that the loan could not be cancelled and Grella would remain a Town player for the rest of the campaign. Both Hart and Leeds boss Simon Grayson blasted Grella for his decision – Grayson stating that he may ‘suffer the consequences’, Hart saying that it was ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’, and that he would ‘fight tooth and nail’ to not pay a penny of his wages.
Whether or not STFC did pay his remaining wages I don’t know, but sure enough Grayson booted Grella out of Elland Road at the first opportunity.