Thanks for the memories - magic man Chris bids farewell as Posh win race to sign him

Words John Edwards | Pictures Jonathan Moore

CHRIS Conn-Clarke has landed the chance to relaunch his career in the Football League after Peterborough United won the race to sign him by agreeing to pay Altrincham an undisclosed club record fee.

Alty bosses stuck to their guns over a valuation for the brilliant attacking midfielder, in the face of growing interest from a host of admirers, and were rewarded for holding their nerve when League One Peterborough finally came up with a figure that was deemed acceptable.

The 22-year old was given permission to visit London Road, and after talks over personal terms were successfully concluded, he put pen to paper to become a Peterborough player.

"Thanks to the gaffer for believing in me, trusting and giving me the platform and guidance to perform each week," Chris said.

"A big thanks to Sorvs and the rest of the staff for giving me all the support. To my team-mates for sticking by me and giving me the best chance to help the team and to the amazing fans - you've been a joy to play in front of."

It marks the end of an eventful chapter in the Northern Ireland under-21 international's career after he made a favourable impression in an initial loan spell at Alty and then stepped it up in spectacular style after returning to The J.Davidson Stadium from Fleetwood Town on a permanent deal last summer.

Clearly benefitting from the expert tutelage and man-management skills of Phil Parkinson and Neil Sorvel, Chris illuminated the Vanarama National League with a stunning individual contribution that proved key to the Robins capping a memorable campaign with a fourth-place finish.

"It's a very proud moment for myself, the outgoing Rob Esteva, Neil and all the staff who are all involved with the development of a player, to see them move on to bigger and better things," said manager Phil.

"The club will get a decent fee and be recognised as a place that helps people develop, get back on track and progress. Everyone wins, exactly how it should be. Good luck CCC."

He tormented opposing defences with his ability on the ball, scoring 22 goals along the way, and when those same clubs who had been on the receiving end acknowledged his stunning exploits in Alty colours by voting him National League player-of-the-year, the club sensed that holding on to him was going to be more difficult than ever.

So it proved, as offers and enquiries started flooding in, with Peterborough finally seeing off the competition after manager Darren Ferguson identified him as an extra injection of flair that could make a difference next season, as the Posh bid to go one better than their recent promotion near-miss.

After the impact he made on Alty fans, the club did their utmost to keep him, but Co-Chairman Lawrence Looney admitted it was always likely to be a losing battle, as he said: "We are extremely sorry to see Chris go, but he leaves with our best wishes and gratitude for the impression he made on all of us in what was an unforgettable campaign last season.

"We would loved to have kept him, but the downside of having a player who lights up the stadium to the extent that Chris did last season is that it tends to get noticed. The list of clubs showing an interest in him as the season wore on grew longer and longer, and it soon became clear there was likely to be only one outcome.

"We were adamant he would not be allowed to leave on the cheap. We set a valuation that was fair and reasonable, and I think clubs began to realise we meant what we said. To be fair to Chris, he fully understood our stance, which spoke volumes for him and gave an indication of how much he enjoyed and valued his time with us.

"He deserves the opportunity to play at a higher level, and we didn't want to stand in his way, provided the move was right for us as well as him. That is how it has worked out, and we will be following Chris' fortunes in League One with great interest next season. He leaves some great memories behind, and there's every reason to believe he will create more for himself at his new club."

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