CITY new boy Billy Clarke has no fears about the fighting spirit of his latest club after witnessing the infamous brawl with Crawley.
Five players were red-carded after the final whistle – and another was later suspended – during the Valley Parade free-for-all two years ago that drew national headlines.
Striker Clarke was on the visiting bench that night in March 2012 and got a “ring-side” view as punches were flying.
Andrew Davies and Jon McLaughlin were among those given their marching orders – and the Irishman has been quick to mention it since teaming up with them for pre-season.
He said: “I’ve had a bit of a joke with them about what went on. We've had a laugh but I know not to mess now!
“I was nowhere near it at the end because I wasn’t on the pitch so I was just looking on like the rest. But it was completely mad.”
Clarke, 26, rejected the chance of a return to the Championship this summer when he left the Broadfield Stadium to join Phil Parkinson’s Valley Parade overhaul.
He has featured in the second tier for Ipswich and Blackpool but was not prepared to go back to a bit-part role.
“There was a possibility of me going back to the Championship,” he added. “But ultimately I left Blackpool to play games.
“That’s why I went to Crawley in the first place. Being a squad player in a Championship club is nothing compared with playing regularly at a different level.
“If you play most games during the season and then go back to not being involved so much, it would be tough. Hopefully I can play regularly here.”
Clarke is finding his feet after the first week back at Apperley Bridge and feels he has settled in quickly. He is not fazed by the Nick Allamby training regime.
“It’s still early days but there have been some good running sessions
“I spoke to the manager beforehand and he did mention the fitness level of the team. But football everywhere now is about technical fitness.
“Look at the top players. You see Jose Mourinho bark on about it to Eden Hazard for not tracking back.
“You’ve got to play at both ends of the pitch, it’s part and parcel of the game now. But general fitness is something I’ve never had a problem with.”