AT the age of 41 and with more than 900 professional appearances under his belt, nobody would blame Peter Clarke for hanging up his boots.

However, it is clear the competitive fire still burns within – and Warrington Town look set to be the beneficiaries of that.

The veteran centre-back is arguably the headline new addition to Mark Beesley’s squad as they embark on their historic adventure in the National League North, which starts at Southport on Saturday.

They may be getting a player in the autumn of his career but one still performing at a very high level – it was only last year that he was named in the League Two Team of the Year for his displays for Tranmere Rovers.

A new role working for the Professional Footballers Association means a drop down into part-time football has been necessary, but it is a challenge that intrigues him.

“I just love playing football,” said Clarke, who has also represented the likes of Huddersfield Town, Bury and Oldham Athletic with distinction having earlier played a handful of Premier League games for Everton.

“The competition games bring, being out there every Saturday and Tuesday – I still find it all great.

“I possibly could have hung the boots up, but this new challenge is one I’m excited by.

“Once we get into the campaign, I think we’ve got the makings of a really good group to have a successful season in terms of progressing on what’s gone before.

“There are a number of players that are brand new to the level, but the manager and staff trust those guys implicitly.

“That’s why a lot of the squad were retained after last season – there’s that continuity which is a good thing.

“It does help but hopefully I can help encourage the lads that are here and push them to take us further forward.”

In Tom Hannigan and Evan Gumbs – a former teammate of Clarke’s at Tranmere – Town have a pre-established and successful partnership in the heart of defence that proved the foundation upon which their promotion push was built last season.

Beesley had been keen to add depth and competition in that area and in bringing in a player of Clarke’s experience, he has done that and some.

It brings onto the table the prospect of playing a three-man defence – a system Beesley has used in the past and one his is known to be considering for certain games as Yellows make the step-up in quality.

“It’s a group that’s been together for a while,” Clarke said.

“They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they understand each other, so there’s a fantastic foundation in place.

“In order to evolve, sometimes you have to add some freshness and a bit more competition.

“We want to push the boundaries and I’d say I’m someone that’s competitive in everything they do.

“I know Evan as I played with him at Tranmere for a period of time when he was a young player there.

“He’s had a good season alongside Tom, but everyone needs that competition.

“It brings out the best in individuals and successful teams need that throughout the group.”