Where did it go wrong for Billy Clark?
AS Billy Clark walked up to Paul Jewell’s office to learn whether he would be getting a new professional contract, the 19-year-old already knew his fate.
The midfielder had burst onto the scene at the end of the 2009/10 season and was already billed as one-to-watch by Town fans.
But as quickly as he arrived into Roy Keane’s first team fold, making impressive substitute appearances in all of the Blues’ final three matches, he then largely disappeared without a trace.
A few pre-season games aside a year ago, Clark never again donned the blue and white first team shirt of his beloved home town club.
Part of Ipswich since the age of six, Clark had his fears confirmed in April when Jewell told him that he had no future with the club.
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So where did it go so wrong for the centre midfielder now searching for a new club with the season just six weeks away?
Keen to tell fans what really happened, he explained: “With what happened to me, people might think I got all big-time over the last summer but it was just not like that.
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“Coming from the youth team, I didn’t know what it was like to be a professional and keep playing in the first team. When I came back and I wasn’t as fit as everyone else, so I couldn’t expect to be involved.
“You just don’t know what you have to do – no one tells you really. You just have to learn for yourself and I won’t be making mistakes like that again.”
A change of manager can often be the signal for an upturn in fortune but Clark revealed that Jewell had enough to worry about keeping the club in the Championship.
He revealed: “He (Jewell) said that everyone would get a chance to impress but with the problems the first team were having, you couldn’t blame him for not taking a chance on a youngster.”
So when Clark received the dreaded news that he would not be offered a new deal after his one-year professional contract expired, it came as little surprise.
The teenager said: “The manager got me in the office and explained his reasons for not offering me a contract.
“He said they are not going to be in the reserve team league next season and that he didn’t feel I was quite ready for the first team at the moment.”
Clark has been at Portman Road since the age of six and was finally accepted into the academy after twice being turned down.
The former Kesgrave Kestrel player and Northgate High School pupil said: “Ever since I could do anything, playing football is all I wanted to do.
“I have always been an Ipswich fan. Most boys dream to play for their local team and I was so lucky that I was able to do that.”
Now Clark is fully focused on the future, starting with finding a team for next season. Sheffield United has been mentioned and he is expecting to go for a trial at Bramall Lane in the next few weeks,
But he said: “The club have put my name around other clubs but that’s about it. I’m a young pro so not every club knows about me. It is hard to be offered something on the back of just three appearances.”