Salisbury City: Darrell Clarke praises 'special' squad

Darrell Clarke

Salisbury City manager Darrell Clarke hailed his "special" players after they gained promotion from the Conference South back to the Premier division.

The Whites beat Dover 3-2 in the play-off final to end their three-year exile from non-league's top tier.

"You need to save the plaudits for those players who have been so special to manage," Clarke told BBC Wiltshire.

"Their attitude and desire has been fantastic. There's not a more deserving bunch of players."

Ricky Wellard's 50th-minute goal put Salisbury ahead before Ian Simpemba struck late-on to take Sunday's game to extra-time.

Goals from Stuart Sinclair and James White gave City a 3-1 lead, but Billy Bricknell's reply two minutes from time set up a tense finish.

"Credit to Dover, they didn't die," said Clarke. "I thought they gave us a tremendous game and I hope they come up next year.

"My heart was in my mouth but when I heard that final whistle it was an unbelievable feeling."

Clarke was club captain when cash-strapped Salisbury were demoted two divisions in 2010 after failing to meet payment deadlines.

And the 35-year-old former midfielder says he will savour the celebrations before looking to next term's Blue Square Bet Premier campaign.

"I'm going to enjoy the next couple of days and then we'll sit down and look ahead," he added.

"I'm so proud of every single one of them and they've all played their part.

"They'll be comings and goings - that's football. I'll be honest with the players and I'll judge it on their performance over the whole season and see if they can do a job.

"It's not a nice part of the job but it's a job that needs doing."