North End captain’s tears of joy over Wembley triumph

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North End captain Tom Clarke admitted he shed tears of joy after Simon Grayson’s side made history by lifting the play-off final trophy at Wembley yesterday.

Clarke will go down in history as the first ever North End captain to lead his men to play-off glory after nine failures.

Tom Clarke holds the League One play-off trophy aloft at Wembley

Tom Clarke holds the League One play-off trophy aloft at Wembley

The defender left the field crying for the wrong reasons when PNE suffered heartbreak on the last day of the season at Colchester as MK Dons pipped them to an automatic promotion spot.

North End made it tenth time lucky with a superb 4-0 victory over Swindon Town at Wembley and captain Clarke is proud to have been part of the team that broke North End’s play-off curse.

He said: “The tears were still there, just a different feeling – joy.

“It is just unbelievable, I still can’t believe it. It still hasn’t sunk in.

The tears were still there, just a different feeling – joy.

“When I first signed I heard about this hoodoo in the play-offs and we were disappointed at Rotherham last year.

“But we have a great group of lads and we are just glad that we are the team that could put the hoodoo behind us.

“We work tirelessly hard on the training pitch to get clean sheets and it is rewarded with days like that and games like that.

“Going up the steps and getting hold of the trophy is what dreams are made of.

“That is what I work hard everyday for.”

And Clarke heaped praise on hat-trick hero Jermaine Beckford and revealed the striker’s feat is even more impressive as he has been playing with a broken toe.

He said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better start to be 3-0 up at half-time.

“Becks and Joe Garner have been brilliant.

“I was with Becks at Huddersfield – off the pitch he is a great guy, a great laugh, a lot of banter and he is involved in a lot of it. On the pitch it showed.

“He hasn’t been training because of his broken toe for most of the weeks building up to it. So it just shows what a great effort it was for him.

“There is no-one who you would want more running on to a one-on-one situation than Becks.

“He is a cool character. It is a great achievement for him to get the goals and get the headlines.”

Clarke also hailed the 23,000 Lilywhites fans who made the trip to the capital and praised them for keeping the faith. He said: “It was a great turnout from the fans, they have been incredible all season.

“Even with the devastating result at Colchester they kept behind us, they are magnificent.

“It was disappointing at Colchester but we have finished on a massive high. Now I have a baby on the way and Championship football to look forward to.”