Walsall FC are delighted to announce the signing of Bristol Rovers defender James Clarke.
The 29-year-old helped the Pirates win promotion from League Two under Saddlers boss Darrell Clarke in 2015/16 and also worked with his namesake at Salisbury City.
“I’m buzzing to be here,” said James Clarke, who made 120 appearances for Rovers.
“It’s a great project from what the gaffer has explained to me. The club have got lovely training facilities and a great stadium and I am really happy to be here.
“I am a versatile player. In the last few seasons, I have played across the back four, predominantly as a centre-half, but I can do a job anywhere across the back four.
“I am somebody who will give everything for the shirt and for the club.
“In my only season in League Two, I was fortunate enough to be in the gaffer’s side that went up with Bristol Rovers.
“He knows how to build a good changing room and that is a big part of being successful.
“We need to kick on in this new era and hopefully it is going to be a positive season.”
Boss Darrell Clarke commented: “I’m pleasantly surprised, to be honest with you. I didn’t think we would have a chance of getting him.
“He’s a lad I know very well and he can play anywhere across the back four. He’s more of a centre-half but he’s played a lot of times at right-back.
“We’re not going to be working with as big a squad this year so it’s important we’ve got players who can fill in a few positions.
“He is 100% commitment and it’s about getting the environment right to the football club.
“He’s quick, strong and uses the ball well. He’s one of the best man-to-man markers from set-pieces I’ve ever worked with; I can’t ever remember his attacker scoring a goal.
“He’s got all the attributes.”
Born in Aylesbury, James Clarke started out with Watford before turning professional at Oxford United, making 36 appearances for the U’s.
He spent three years with neighbours Oxford City, winning promotion from the Southern League in 2011, and first linked up with Darrell Clarke at Salisbury in 2012.
Part of the Whites’ Conference South promotion-winning team, the versatile defender played 37 games for Woking before reuniting with his former boss at Bristol Rovers in 2015.
He featured 40 times as the Gas gained promotion in his first EFL season and made 43 outings last term, helping Rovers keep the fifth best defensive record in League One.
James Clarke will officially join the Saddlers on 1st July when his contract expires at Bristol Rovers.