THREE years on, and Huddersfield Town boss Lee Clark says the toughest part of being a manager remains dealing with defeat.
So having tasted only the 29th in 137 League I games at the helm at leaders Charlton 12 days ago, the highly-driven Geordie is determined to mark the latest anniversary of his appointment with victory over Bournemouth at the Galpharm today.
“It’s unbelievable that I’ve been here three years, because it’s flown by,” said the 39-year-old, who arrived at the Galpharm having been reserve coach at Newcastle and assistant manager at Norwich.
“I think that’s a sign of how much I’m enjoying the job because make no mistake, this is a fantastic club to work for.
“The owner and chief executive (Dean Hoyle and Nigel Clibbens) have given me terrific backing, as have the supporters, and myself, my staff and my players are determined to reward that by winning promotion.”
The 2-0 setback at Charlton, of course, was Town’s first in 44 regular league games, but while admitting his pleasure at beating Nottingham Forest’s record of 42 unbeaten, Clark is quick to admit winning a place in the Championship is the real target.
“The two things go hand in hand,” added the man who has twice taken Town to the play-offs and has an overall record of 83 wins and 43 draws in 166 matches as boss.
“The more you avoid losing matches, the more points you get, and our approach remains taking each match in turn, because three points are available whoever you are playing.”
Clark says he is learning more about the job each day, explaining: “You never stop working to improve.
“I watch and listen to all the top managers as much as I possibly can, and hearing Alex Ferguson’s reaction to Manchester United’s Champions League defeat at Basel was telling.
“He vowed to use it as a motivation to bounce back and drive the club on to even greater achievements, and when someone of his stature and experience is doing that, there’s a lesson there for all us younger managers.”
Clark goes head-to-head with an even younger boss in 36-year-old Lee Bradbury today and continued: “I’m looking forward to the match.
“We had four meetings with Bournemouth last season, and all four ended in draws (it took penalties to finally separate the pair in last season’s play-off semi-final second leg).
“Lee (Bradbury) has done a great job in reshaping the side after a number of close-season departures (including Anton Robinson and Donal McDermott, who have joined Town) and we’re expecting a tough test, but we’re ready for it.”
TOWN’S most memorable wins under Lee Clark:
February 14, 2009, Town 1 Leeds 0: Hardly a St Valentine’s Day massacre, but still a sweet win as Nathan Clarke’s goal silences those noisy neighbours in front of a bumper 20,928 Galpharm crowd.
See more on page three - including the Huddersfield Town team for Clark's first game as boss. Can you remember who was in it?
August 18, 2009, Town 7 Brighton 1: Six different players – Kay, Peter Clarke, Lee Novak (penalty), Roberts, Drinkwater and Robinson (2) – make the scoresheet as Albion are ripped apart.
November 2, 2010, Sheffield Wed 0 Town 2: It’s Anthony Pilkington’s night as Town set fire to the rain with a swashbuckling success at soggy Hillsborough. PIlks fires home to add to Graham Carey’s opener.
September 13, 2011, Sheffield Utd 0 Town 3: It seems the steel city suits Town, who show their mettle by blunting the Blades thanks to goals from Lee Novak (2) and Oscar Gobern.
November 19, 2011, Town 2 Notts County 1: Jordan Rhodes is the goal hero once again as his double ensures Town set a new record of 43 Football League games unbeaten.
LAST season’s League I play-off final defeat by Peterborough at Old Trafford ranks as the toughest result for Town to take during Lee Clark’s reign so far.
Most seasons, an 87-point haul would have clinched an automatic promotion berth, but the form of Brighton and Southampton scuppered that route to the Championship.
Town came through a thrilling semi-final second leg against today’s visitors Bournemouth, but were undone by three late Posh goals in the final, a painful scoreline which drives Clark on as he attempts to bring second-tier football back to the Galpharm for the first time since 2001.
LEE CLARK’S first match at the helm was the 2-0 home win over Hereford on December 20, 2008.
Goals from Nathan Clarke and Gary Roberts clinched the three-point haul in front of 13,070.
Clarke netted in the 70th minute, volleying home after Danny Cadamarteri’s effort was cleared off the line.
The second goal arrived seven minutes later, with Roberts playing a neat one-two with substitute Phil Jevons before curling home a shot.
Town’s line-up was Alex Smithies, captain Andy Holdsworth, Robbie Williams, Clarke, Andy Butler, Michael Collins, James Berrett, Jim Goodwin, Ian Craney, Keigan Parker and Roberts.
Cadamarteri, Jevons and Jon Worthington came off the bench.