Whitton United’s Anton Clarke hoping for Suffolk Premier Cup upset against Lowestoft Town

Anton Clarke

Anton Clarke - Credit: Archant

There will be no prouder man than Anton Clarke should Whitton United lift the Suffolk Premier Cup for the first time this evening, at Leiston’s Victory Road ground (7.45pm KO).

The Thurlow Nunn Premier Division side go into tonight’s showpiece with Conference North outfit, Lowestoft Town, as rank outsiders, but have already pulled off a major shock, defeating Ryman North promotion-chasers AFC Sudbury in the semi-final.

Just to have reached the Premier Cup final is a remarkable achievement for Paul Bugg’s side, who just six years again were forced to pull out of the Premier Division, as they were unable to fulfil their league fixtures.

The 2011 and 2012 Senior Cup winners have not looked back since, first under current Hadleigh United manager Ian Brown and, latterly, under Bugg, much to the delight of Whitton-born Clarke, whose brother Ethan also plays for the club.

“We have a good unity and camaraderie at the club that we have not had for some time, and it reminds of when we first won the Senior Cup under Ian Brown (in 2011),” said the 28-year-old.

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“We are looking forward to the game and it just shows how far we have come as a club.

“I think the club thought Ian (Brown) had taken us to the pinnacle and when a new manager comes in there is always uncertainty.

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“But we have done really well under Paul, especially when you consider the last time we were in the Premier Division, we had to pull out.

“I can’t speak highly enough of the chairman, Mark Richards, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we are getting it right off the pitch and making strides on it.”

Clarke spent time as a youngster with Ipswich Town and Colchester and also had a spell with Stevenage, but Whitton has always been in his heart.

“I am very proud to play for Whitton and feel very fortunate to do so,” added Clarke, who, along with his brother, is joined by fellow Whitton-born players Robbie and Ashley Knott at the club.

“I feel content where I am. There are other younger players who can play higher, including my brother who can play wherever he wants to provided he keeps working hard.

“I was born and bred in Whitton and a lot of players don’t get the chance to even play at this level, let alone for the estate they grew up on.”

Tonight’s opponents are on a high, having just secured Conference North football for next season, and have won the Premier Cup 11 times.

Clarke added: “We have got nothing to lose.

“A lot of people expected us to lose by a cricket score against AFC Sudbury but we deservedly beat them.

“The mere fact we are in the final is an achievement but we would be foolish to worry about Lowestoft and be daunted by the challenge.”


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