“I was scared, it was frightening,” said Clarke, who was poked in the eye by a team mate as Roughyeds warmed up on The Gnoll pitch ahead of their 36-36 Northern Rail Cup draw with Scorpions.
The full extent of the disruption it caused to Roughyeds’ plans emerged today when chairman Chris Hamilton paid tribute to the squad’s desire to overcome adversity.
Said the Roughyeds’ chief: “We were up against it before Chris’s injury because Scorpions had had a full week off, while we had played a crack side like Featherstone in midweek and then had to make the long trip to Neath on the morning of the game.
“With only ten minutes to kick off Clarke was clearly in some distress and all our pre-match planning and preparation went up in the air.”
Added Hamilton: “While all this was going on, the doctor insisted that Chris had to get to a hospital to see an eye specialist because he had no vision in his right eye and his pupil was not reacting
“We eventually made contact with an off-duty eye specialist who agreed to examine Chris at Swansea hospital which was half an hour’s drive away.”
The chairman drove his injured player to Swansea, while the rest of the party struggled to hold the Scorpions, who went into a 30-12 lead early in the second half.
“Happily, Chris’s vision began to return after about an hour,” said the chairman, “but his eye was still scratched and bleeding. He was given a full examination and the specialist assured him there would be no permanent damage.
“Back in Neath, Tony Benson and the players had to make-do-and-mend with pre-match plans in total disarray and some players operating out of position.
“Not only did they get rid of an 18-point deficit to go level at 36-36 but they then had what would have been a winning try disallowed.
“To claw back a draw and pick up two pool points out of a nightmare situation like that was a superb achievement and one that was full of guts, spirit and determination.”
Clarke, who missed most of last season with a wrist injury, said: “If selected, I should be okay to play in Sunday’s clash with Dewsbury Rams at Whitebank. My luck is surely going to change sooner or later.”