7th February – Clayton Donaldson

Clayton Donaldson has played a big part in Birmingham City’s revival this season under Gary Rowett and helped his side to a 1-1 draw with Fulham on his birthday but unfortunately could not add to his goal tally.

Now 31 it has been a long road for the 31 year old to reach the Championship but he has always scored goals at whatever club he has been at in England. It seemed like he made a bad decision leaving Brentford for Birmingham in the early months of the season but in recent weeks his new club have started playing much better.

The striker started his career at Hull City and scored on his debut on the 22nd October 2002 against Port Vale in the Football League Trophy. Shortly afterwards he joined Northern Premier League club Harrogate Town on loan and also scored on his debut for them against Gateshead. He spent three months at the club, scoring five times in 10 games. Back at his parent club he signed a new two year deal and made a further two appearances before the end of the season. After short loan spells at Scarborough and Halifax Town, he returned to Harrogate again on loan and had more success with the club, winning the Conference North Player of the Month in October 2004 and scored four times in 11 games before being released by his parent club.

In June 2005 Donaldson joined York City and had an impressive first season, finding the back of the net 18 times and being named Clubman of the Year. During his second season he was being linked with moves away from the club and this may have distracted for short periods and many clubs tabled bids for the striker but none were accepted. After 26 goals in the Conference he did leave York in the summer of 2007 and made the step up to the SPL and joined Hibernian. Donaldson got his first goal for the club after winning and scoring a penalty against Falkirk but was later sent off in the game. After serving his suspension he scored on his return against Motherwell and then later in the month got a hatrick against Kilmarnock.

Donaldson York

During the second half of the season he was frozen out of the team and didn’t play leading to a transfer to Crewe Alexandra in the summer. He first season wasn’t as prolific as he hoped but he improved in his second season despite injuries and eventually in his third season he showed his true potential. He ended the campaign as League Two’s top scorer with 28 goals.

Donaldson CA

Once again his talents were seen by teams in higher leagues and on the 1st July 2011 he joined League One side Brentford. In each of his three seasons he hit double figures and was a constant threat to the opposition, ending his time there with over 50 goals but even though he helped them to promotion at the end of the 2013-14 season he declined their new contract offer and joined Birmingham. He is already in double figures so he has proved he can make the step up to the level and it will be interesting to see how far he can go.

Donaldson Brentford

The final word can go to Birmingham manager Gary Rowett. “He deserves his purple patch because he works so hard for the team. His role is pivotal to the way we play and he plays it brilliantly. He occupies defenders and all the players appreciate the role he does. He’s picking up goals as well and for me they’re bonuses.”

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14th October – Clarke Carlisle

Clarke Carlisle is known as the smartest footballer in Britain and he has lived up to this reputation by appearing on Question Time and Countdown but has also shown another side when working as a commentator on ITV.

Although the 35 year old has added knowledge to the matches he commentates on, he has occasionally made mistakes, including one that was picked up at the World Cup when he didn’t understand why Colombian striker Jackson Martinez couldn’t get into the Ecuador team. It was an honest mistake but it was still funny especially considering the reputation he has.

Focusing on his playing career, he started at Blackpool and made his debut in a 4-3 win over Wrexham on the 2nd September 1997. In the following match he scored his first goal to give his side a 2-1 win over Carlisle United. In his 93rd and final appearance for the club he scored in a 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic and despite not being able to keep them in Division Two, his performances had attracted the attention of other clubs.
Carlisle Blackpool
On the 25th May 2000 Carlisle signed for QPR. He made 32 appearances for the club but his season was cut short on the 31st January 2001. After missing the entire 2001-02 season he returned on the 7th September 2002 in a 4-0 win over Mansfield Town. He returned to good form and helped the team reach the playoffs but they lost in the final. His career once again took a turn for the worse as he developed an alcohol addiction and missed a month of the season to have treatment. He returned to action in October 2003 and was in fantastic form winning the Division Two Player of the Month in November. Carlisle scored one goal in 39 games as QPR were promoted to the Championship. But after rejecting a new contract he joined Leeds United.
Carlisle QPR
During the early months of the season he was a regular starter but an injury on the 29th November 2004 kept him out of action and he found it difficult to break back into the first team. After just one season and 38 games he left for Watford. He was a key player in Watford’s promotion, but missed the playoffs and the injury forced him to miss eight months of the Premier League season. To gain fitness he joined Luton Town on loan on the 2nd March 2007 and played five games for the club.

He finally made his Premier League debut on the 9th April in a 4-2 victory over Portsmouth but could not stop them getting relegated. In the summer he joined Burnley and had a solid season but ended it with two red cards in the final four games. In the 2008-09 campaign he had a lot more success and in the Playoff final win over Sheffield United he picked up the Man of the Match award. Unfortunately they, like Watford, only spent one season in the top flight.

He was regular in the side during the 2010-11 season but when Eddie Howe was appointed he decided to send him out on loan to Preston for the entire 2011-12 season. He played 27 times for the club before the deal was terminated by mutual consent and on the same day he signed for Northampton Town on loan. He was appointed captain and played 18 times for the club.
Carlisle NT
When his contract at Burnley expired he joined York City on a short term deal, playing 14 times before rejoining Northampton Town. He helped the club reach the League Two playoffs but they were beaten 3-0 by Bradford City and on the 23rd May 2013 Carlisle announced his retirement.

The final word can go to Aidy Boothroyd. “I’ve known Clarke a long time. He’s a leader in every sense. I’m hoping he will be someone to lay down a lot of foundations off the pitch as regards to culture.”