Today is a special day in Nottingham.
A great servant of Nottingham ice hockey and one of the best British hockey players of the modern era will be celebrated by Panthers fans tonight as David Clarke receives a well-deserved testimonial in his tenth season at the NIC.
The Peterborough-born 32-year old has already amassed a career that he can look back upon with pride, becoming the all-time highest points scorer in the EIHL last season and scoring of a rate at over a point a game-he’s currently on 488 points from 472 EIHL games, all with the Panthers, and has scored a total of 696 points in 738 games in UK hockey-an incredible statistic.
He’s won ten trophies in his time at the Panthers and worn a letter every year he’s played at the NIC, as well as being voted an EIHL All-Star, Best British Forward and many other individual awards during a career spent at Peterborough, Newcastle, London, Milton Keynes and Guildford and a brief spell in Italy as well as Nottingham.
He’s represented his country 91 times, scoring 69 points in the process, too, and been league MVP twice.
But perhaps the most telling thing about Clarke’s career is that he’s almost universally viewed as one of the best British players of the modern era. Aside from one year in Alleghe in Italy, he’s been one of the first names on the Panthers team sheet for the past ten years, and consistently one of their most dangerous forwards.
Clarke is the kind of player you love to watch. He’s fast, skilled, hard-working and plays the game with just enough of an edge and needle that he attracts the ire of the opposition fans…but his true talents lie around the net. When David Clarke picks up the puck in space, he always provokes the same, contrasting reactions: if you’re a Panthers fan, you rise from your seat in anticipation. If you’re from the opposition, you panic. More often than not, the panic is justified as he’ll either create a scoring chance or finish one.
Clarke is one of those players who every opposition fan secretly wishes was on their squad. He’s one of the greatest British players of the modern era and has represented his club and country with pride, hard work and integrity for ten years.
Tonight, he gets a deserved “thank you”. A “thank you” that even we here in Coventry will echo, despite the fierce Nottingham/Coventry rivalry. Tonight at least, David Clarke deserves nothing less than your fulsome praise, whether you’re a Panthers fan or not.
Congratulations from Coventry on your testimonial, David. Well done, and enjoy the night. You’ve earned it.