Leyton Orient defender Michael Clark grateful for loan spell at East Thurrock
- Credit: Archant
Centre back played 33 times for National League South side in first half of the 2016/17 season and learned a lot
Michael Clark has expressed his gratitude to the players and coaching staff at East Thurrock United after a successful spell at the club last season.
The defender joined the Rocks on a work experience loan in August and stayed at Rookery Hill until the start of February.
Clark played a lot of his football at East Thurrock alongside ex-Barkingside centre back Joe Ellul.
And the duo helped the National League South club lose just five league games between August and January before both departed midway through the campaign.
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“Joe has moved on to Billericay now, but I enjoyed playing with him and I learned a lot from him,” said Clark.
“He is really good aerially and playing with him helped me and I felt I learned a lot in each game, especially at the start.
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“I adapted after and settled in when I played about three or four times and enjoyed it a lot more. I owe a lot to John Coventry as well.”
O’s young centre back had other loan options before linking up with East Thurrock at the beginning of August.
But Clark wanted to test himself at the highest level and didn’t just do well from a defensive point of view.
The defender scored four goals including one against Colchester United in the last eight of the Essex Senior Cup.
Clark added: “I did have other loan options, but East Thurrock was at the best level and John Coventry asked me to play in their last pre-season friendly.
“It was at Canvey Island and I did that, did really well and then he wanted me to play in the first game and it went from there.
“I think I played almost every game (before returning to Orient), I might have missed one, so it was a really successful loan and I enjoyed it a lot.”
East Thurrock did extremely well in the FA Trophy last season and reached the second round before exiting the competition.
Clark starred as they progressed past Margate before shocking National League outfit Aldershot in the first round.
The Orient defender won man of the match against the Shots in December, as the two teams drew 1-1, which forced a replay.
Rocks and their O’s loanee then earned a stunning 4-3 win at Aldershot, which set up a tie against Braintree Town next.
Although Braintree proved too strong and won 5-2, Clark enjoyed the test of going up against two National League clubs.
Having featured against the likes of Ebbsfleet United and Maidenhead United too, the teen is ready for non-league football again.
“I played against Aldershot and Braintree in the FA Trophy, so I would like to think I am well prepared for next season,” said Clark.
“I just want to play as many games as possible. That is where you learn most because there is only so much you can learn on the training pitch.
“The rest is done on a match day and through experience, so I want to play as much as I can for Leyton Orient next season.”