Stow sign Clarke as Bramble trains

FRESH START: Billy Clarke
FRESH START: Billy Clarke

Stowmarket Town’s desire to follow up their first promotion in their 134-year history with another was shown again this week by the signing of ex- Ipswich Town professional Billy Clarke.

And the Free Press understands former Premier League star Titus Bramble could sensationally follow him in.

A source close to the club confirmed the rumours that ex-Newcastle, Wigan Athletics, Sunderland and Ipswich defender Bramble has been training with the Old Gold & Blacks.

He was not involved in Tuesday’s friendly at AFC Sudbury (0-0), it seems, as the 3G surface was not thought to be good for his knee.

The club were officially keeping tight-lipped on the situation involving the player who turned 35 on Monday.

Bramble has been coaching in Ipswich’s academy since being released from then Premier League Sunderland following the 2012/13 season but seems set to make a return to the pitch.

Clarke is now dual registered for both Step Three Needham Market and Step Five’s Stow, to boost his form.

Needham Market’s Richard Wilkins said: “Billy needs a few months of football to get his mojo back. Last season wasn’t easy for him, he broke his ankle in September and lost a family member.

“He didn’t get a string of games under his belt and hopefully he can return to the levels we know he can operate at.”

And assistant manager Paul Musgrove was delighted at ex-Bury Town Clarke signing for Stow.

“I’m very pleased that Billy has decided to sign for us, I think we can help each other a lot,” he said.

“We’re delighted that he will be with us this season.

“He’s taken on board what we want to do this season and is behind us.

“And we want to help get him back to playing at as high a level as possible as well, hopefully with Stowmarket.”

Stowmarket’s newest signing Billy Clarke hopes to help his new club gain promotion at the end of the season — as the club ambitiously targets a second promotion in two years.

The Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division club enjoyed their first promotion in their 134-year history at the end of the 2016/17 season, but they are not content to stop there.

Management has targetted promotion to the Bostik League Division One North, where they would join the likes of AFC Sudbury — who they played in their final warm-up match before they begin their season away to Barkingside in the Extra Preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday (2pm).

And Stowmarket have brought in a host of higher-division players to help achieve their goal, with Clarke the latest to join.

Most of the new signings were on show against The Yellows on Tuesday, with Scott Mitchell, Angelo Harrop, Andrew Wood, Ollie Brown, Jemel Fox, Ethan Clarke, Ryan Yallop and Craig Brand donning the Old Gold & Blacks shirt during the 0-0 draw.

Only striker Josh Mayhew did not appear for the club as they gear for the new season.

New assistant manager Paul Musgrove,who was appointed earlier this summer, said: “We played well, exactly what we needed for the last game — and a good test of where we are against higher opposition.

“There’s obviously been a lot of changes, on and off the pitch, so I’m really pleased with where we are.

“The players have really taken what we want to do on board and we’re in a good position going into the first game.

“We’re looking at a top three finish and I think we’re in a good place to do that.

“We just want to get that first game under our belts now. It’s a bit of an unknown so we’ll see.”