Gateshead boss Ben Clark to consider future after Fraser Kerr sold to Hartlepool behind his back

Gateshead manager Ben Clark has revealed that he was unaware of the sale of Fraser Kerr until hours before the defender joined Hartlepool United – and says he is now considering his future at the club.

By Mark Carruthers
Friday, 01 March, 2019, 06:00
Fraser Kerr signed for Hartlepool this week from Gateshead (pic via HUFC/Shutterpress)

Pools completed the capture of the former Scotland Under-21 centre-back on Wednesday afternoon, just hours after Clark had been informed that the deal was close to completion.

The deal leaves the former Pools defender with just 14 senior outfield players in his squad ahead of Saturday’s National League fixture at Aldershot Town.

Gateshead are still unable to replace Kerr as they remain under a transfer embargo enforced on them by the National League.

“We still have a strong spirit within the dressing-room, but it’s been a big blow to lose Fraser,” explained Clark.

“Football is a ruthless business and I have been around long enough to know that this can happen.

“It’s getting a little bit difficult, but we will stick together.

“I found out on Tuesday night. Fraser rang me and said he was going to Hartlepool on Wednesday to complete a move to join them.

“Once I heard the words that the club had accepted an offer, there is not much I could do as a manager.

“Fraser admitted that he didn’t really want to leave the club but felt that he had to do so.”

Gateshead owner Doctor Ranjan Varghese and the club’s Chief Financial Adviser Joseph Cala will meet with National League officials on Friday to try and get the transfer embargo lifted.

Clark confirmed that he would be involved in the meeting as he looks to add some fresh faces to a depleted Heed squad.

The 36-year-old will resist any temptation to name himself as a substitute over the coming weeks, but admitted that it would be tough to throw any of the club’s under-19’s players in a matchday squad.

“The embargo is still in place, but we have a meeting with the National League on Friday.

“That is still going ahead and I will be in that with Ranjan and Joseph.

“I will be in that meeting and hopefully we can move things forward.

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“I have had my time, I don’t want to be on the bench.

“I retired for a reason and I haven’t played for two years.

“We have an under-19s squad and we can use them, but they aren’t ready.

“I could say I could trust them, but they aren’t ready.”

Clark cut a defiant figure when he spoke after training at the International Stadium on Thursday.

He admitted that he has had some thoughts of walking away from the club but doesn’t believe he can let the players and supporters down in such a challenging period of the season.

However, the Heed boss confirmed that he would “re-evaluate the situation in the summer”.

“It’s difficult, and I am a very positive person.

“I am blessed in life, I have a lovely wife and a wonderful family that keep me grounded. I know what is important in life and this club is important to me.

“I have to be myself, I have to smile and keep positive, because it is difficult.

“I have had some thoughts about walking away, but I couldn’t do it to the players and the supporters. I will re-evaluate the situation in the summer.

“We are in a great position and we are challenging for the play-offs.

“We could just throw the towel in, but we won’t do that.”

The National League were approached but declined to comment on the situation at Gateshead.