Darrell Clarke: Bristol Rovers manager takes relegation blame

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke has said he will take responsibility for his side's relegation from League Two.

The Pirates' 1-0 final-day defeat at home to Mansfield Town means that they drop out of the Football League for the first time in their history.

And 36-year-old Clarke, who was promoted from assistant to first-team boss last month, was seen in tears after the final whistle.

"Words can't describe it, I'm devastated," he told BBC Points West.

"I apologise to the supporters. I'll take responsibility as I picked the team for the last eight games.

Clarke's eight games in charge

  • Beat Morecambe and Wycombe
  • Drew with AFC Wimbledon
  • Lost to Bury, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Torquay, Mansfield

"I didn't get the points that were required in those games. My heart goes out to those supporters."

A run of three wins and three draws in February saw Rovers climb up to 14th in League Two. But a month later, after a run of four games without a victory, they were back in a relegation battle.

On 28 March, the club announced that manager John Ward was to become director of football, with his assistant of eight months Clarke stepping up to replace him as boss.

The former Salisbury boss's first game in charge brought a win against Morecambe, but they then picked up just one point from their next five games.

After winning at relegation rivals Wycombe last weekend, Rovers needed only a draw at home to Mansfield to keep their place in League Two.

But their defeat, coupled with final-day wins for Northampton and Wycombe, saw Clarke's side go down on goal difference.

"I'm not going to look for excuses. It's a 46-game season and we haven't done enough," added Clarke. "We had a lot of chances but we didn't take one of them."

Rovers have spent the past 94 years in the Football League, having been invited in as original members of the old Division Three in 1920.