PAT Clarke is back at Raith Rovers and aiming to prove his doubters wrong.
Despite a record of nine goals from 19 starts for Dunfermline last season, the 26-year-old striker was frozen out of the first team picture at East End Park this season, making only three substitute appearances in the SPL.
And after making the switch across the A92 on New Year’s Day, returning for a second spell at Stark’s Park on a free transfer, Clarke is keen to get his career back on track.
“I’ve got everything to prove,” he told SportsPress, “not just to Dunfermline, but to every manager I’ve played under that I’m a good player and willing to work my socks off to score goals again.
“I scored goals early in my career, and maybe stalled a bit due to lack of games – and that’s that only reason. It’s certainly not due to lack of hunger.
“Given regular games I’ll get back to my best. Hitting the net is one of my best attributes, everywhere I’ve played I’ve scored goals.
“It’s only when I haven’t played that the goals dried up – which is natural.”
Clarke first joined Raith as a 19-year-old, again making the switch from the Pars, signing for Gordon Dalziel just a few months after Claude Anelka left the club.
He scored a double on his debut in a 3-3 draw against Clyde, but only managed three more in 24 appearances after falling out of favour with Dalziel.
“I was a young boy when I was here the first time,” he said.
“I was fed-up playing reserve football at Dunfermline and even though I was still young I was hungry for first team games.
“I made a good start under Dalziel but it never worked out for me with a lack of games.
“Guys like Scott Crabbe and Eddie Annand were around so I was inexperienced compared to them and struggled to get games.
“I took it on the chin and took the chance to go to Cowdenbeath, and managed to make a wee name for myself.”
Clarke scored 17 goals in his first season at Central Park before a move to Clyde, and another 14 First Division goals, attracted the interest of big spending Dundee who signed him in the summer of 2009.
But he found games hard to come by at Dens Park, and after just four starts and two goals he made his way back to East End Park, but once again he found himself struggling to break into the starting XI.
“Things weren’t working out for me at Dunfermline, I was strugging to get a regular game, so when I heard Raith were interested in taking me along, I was delighted,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to get back playing football, which is what I’ve missed.
“The last time I played was at Ibrox about a month ago when I came on for the last 15 minutes, but I’ve not played regularly for a while.
“That’s been frustrating, but I’ve taken it on the chin and moved here to try and change that.
“Naturally, it might take me a game or two to get the rust off, but it’s just about hard work.
“I played 45 minutes against Dundee, which will help me, and I’m looking to kick on from here.”
Clarke suffered relegation during his first stint at Raith, but he believes the current squad has what it takes to steer clear of a similar fate.
He said: “The past is gone, all I want to do is help Raith climb the league, which I think we’re capable of judging by the boys we’ve got in the dressing room.
“We’ll do well given we get a wee break here or there. We never got it against Dundee – but it will come.
“The position we are in right now is not exactly perfect, but there’s no point being negative about it. It’s up to us to change it.
“I’ve played in the First Division before, I know what it’s about.
“Every game’s a battle, as you saw against Dundee on Monday.
“I don’t think there was much between the two teams, maybe just a lack of chances created was our problem, but we need to build on that.”