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🎞️Ian Holloway Pre-Leyton Orient Press Conference

Grimsby Town manager Ian Holloway praises new signing Billy Clarke ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet League Two clash with Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road

9 January 2020

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Grimsby Town manager Ian Holloway says new signing Billy Clarke will ‘fit straight in’ among his teammates at Blundell Park.

The 32-year-old striker signed a deal until the end of the season, after leaving fellow Sky Bet League Two side Plymouth Argyle earlier today.

And Holloway, who managed Clarke at Blackpool, said the forward’s determination makes him the perfect match for Town.

He said: “We used to call him wild Bill at Blackpool because he was 21 at the time and he was angry that I wasn’t playing him in front of some of the other players that I had.

“I said ‘You’re going to work hard, do things, and learn.’

“He’s probably the unluckiest player I’ve ever had in my life because he just started to hit fantastic form, and understand what I wanted him to do, before he got injured.

“We played Preston North End, our local rivals, live on the TV and he scored a fantastic goal in the first minute so we were 1-0 up.

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“They scored a brilliant free-kick, and then he crashed two shots off the bar, and we drew 1-1.

“In that game he got an injury that kept him out quite a while, which held him back while we were progressing.

“At the time I had to replace him in the squad. We went up, and in the end he was so frustrated that he wasn’t part of it so I had to let him go.

“He’s so determined, he understands what I do, he moves naturally, and he’s played with James Hanson before and he’s scored goals higher than we are.

“I’ve rescued him a bit because his family situation is quite bright – he’s had a new child not long ago with his lovely wife Kate and he’s been so far away from them that it just tugs on your heartstrings.

“We’ve got a little group who live where he lives so he’ll be able to travel in with them, and they’ll share the driving.

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“With the greatest of respect to Plymouth Argyle they’ve been great – he was contracted until January 18.

“But when he said he wanted to come here, Ryan Lowe’s a great fellow and he said ‘Okay Bill,’ so they sort of tore it up and we got him straight away.

“Has he been playing as much as he would want to? Probably not, but he’s fit and ready, and he knows exactly what I do, and I’m absolutely delighted to have him.

“I think he can help me quicker than anybody else anywhere, who I could bring in.

“The spirit I’m trying to grow – I believe he’ll slot straight in because he’s so determined and he suits us down to the ground.

“I’d love to get him going again, and for him to be with us for a long time, because I believe he can play at a much higher level than this quite easily.”

And Holloway wants Town to continue the good momentum, on and off the field, into next week – regardless of Saturday’s result against Leyton Orient at Brisbane Road (3pm).

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He said: “The fact we’ve sold around 1,200 tickets is absolutely fantastic.

“What I want is for that euphoric feeling to carry on into next week – whatever the score, and whatever happens, because you never know what you’re going to get.

“I want to continue that into our home games because we want home crowds bigger than we’ve ever had before because that will really help us move forward.

“I want us all to earn that right, earn the fact that the fans want to come back, and earn the right to please them.

“Be very forgiving if it goes wrong because you know they’re never going to stop trying.

“I want every single person who wears that shirt to be like that – I want them to reflect what Grimsby Town fans have to feel every day of their lives, how proud they are of their wonderful, historic, beautifully-coloured shirt, what it means to them, and why.

“I’m a bit lonely this week because my wife hasn’t come up, but I’ve signed two players, and I’ve got the house secure, so I’ve done my job.

“Hopefully I can do it again and make it three wins in a row, but we have to earn that right.”

James Hanson will face a late fitness test ahead of Saturday’s game, but Holloway says it may be more ‘realistic’ for him to return for next weekend’s clash with Exeter City at Blundell Park.


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