Roy Clarke (footballer)

Roy Clarke (footballer)

Football player infobox
playername = Roy Clarke

fullname = Royston James Clarke
dateofbirth = birth date|1925|6|1|df=y
cityofbirth = Newport
countryofbirth = Wales
dateofdeath = death date and age|2006|3|13|1925|6|1|df=y
cityofdeath = Manchester
countryofdeath = England
position = Winger
youthyears =
youthclubs = Albion Rovers
years = 1942–1947 1947–1958
clubs = Cardiff City Manchester City
Stockport County
caps(goals) = 039 (11)
349 (73)
025 0(5)
manageryears =
managerclubs = Northwich Victoria

Royston James Clarke (1 June 1925 – 13 March 2006) was a Welsh footballer who played for Cardiff City, Manchester City, Stockport County and Wales as a winger.


An outstanding schoolboy sportsman, Clarke became a miner during the Second World War, playing amateur football in his spare time. He signed amateur forms with Cardiff City in 1942, becoming a professional when league football resumed after the war. Part of the Cardiff side which won promotion from Division Three (South) in 1946–47, he signed for Second Division Manchester City in May 1947, Cardiff receiving £12,000 for the player. Manchester City had just secured promotion with matches to spare, resulting in Clarke achieving an unusual feat of playing in three different divisions in consecutive matches.

Clarke was a Manchester City regular for the next decade, making 349 league appearances. He was part of the Manchester City team which reached consecutive FA Cup finals in the 1950s, winning in 1956. In 1958 Clarke moved to Stockport County, and later had a spell as manager of Northwich Victoria. After retiring from football he ran a sports shop, and subsequently returned to Manchester City, where he ran the social club for nearly 25 years. He died in 2006, after a long illness with Alzheimer's disease.


Roy Clarke was born in Newport, Monmouthshire, to a mining family. At school he excelled at sports, representing Wales in a schoolboy baseball international,cite book |last=James |first=Gary |title=Manchester City — The Complete Record |publisher=Breedon |location=Derby |date=2006 |isbn=1-85983-512-0|pages=172] and winning a local table tennis championship.cite book |last= James|first= Gary| title= The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame |publisher= Hamlyn |date= 2005 |isbn= 0-600-61282-1|pages=144] Upon leaving school Clarke followed his father's career path and became a miner, as one of the Bevin boys.cite book |last=Penney |first=Ian |title=The Maine Road Encyclopedia |publisher=Mainstream |location=Edinburgh |year=1995 |isbn= 1-85158-710-1|pages=44] In his free time he played for a local amateur football team, Albion Rovers. Here he was spotted by Cardiff City, who signed him as an amateur in December 1942. [cite web
title=Roy Clarke
] In 1945 he received his first taste of playing against top-class opposition, a touring Dynamo Moscow. [cite book |title=Passovotchka |last=Downing |first=David |year=2000 |publisher=Bloomsbury Publishing |location=London |isbn=978-0-7475-4813-3 |pages=134 ] His team suffered a heavy defeat; the match finished 10–1 to the Soviets. The following year he represented the Welsh national team for the first time, playing in a "Victory international" against Ireland.

Clarke played as an outside-left for Cardiff City in 39 league matches, scoring 11 goals (1942–1947). When league football resumed after the war, Clarke was an integral part of the Cardiff City team which gained promotion from the Third Division in 1946–47. In May 1947 he transferred to newly crowned Second Division champions Manchester City, the fee £12,000. [cite book |last=Ward |first=Andrew |title=The Manchester City Story |publisher=Breedon|location=Derby |date=1984 |isbn=0-907969-05-4|pages=48] He made his debut in Manchester City's final match of the season, against Newport County. Clarke made his next appearance in the First Division against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day of the 1947–48 season, scoring his first goal for the club in the process. This meant he had completed the unusual feat of playing three different divisions of the Football League in three consecutive matches. [cite book |last=Clayton |first=David |title=Everything under the blue moon: the complete book of Manchester City FC — and more! |publisher=Mainstream publishing |location=Edinburgh |date=2002 |isbn=1-84018-687-9|pages=53]

In the 1954–55 season Manchester City had success using a tactical system known as the Revie Plan, in which Don Revie was used as a deep-lying centre-forward. Clarke was one of the players to benefit from this system, with interplay between Clarke and Revie prominent. A long run in the FA Cup followed. Clarke scored the winning goal in a semi-final against Sunderland, heading in a Joe Hayes cross to send City to Wembley, but suffered a knee injury late in the match. [Ward, "The Manchester City Story", p46] After missing five matches Clarke returned to the starting line-up, but he aggravated the injury in the final league match of the season. The knee required an operation, causing him to miss the 1955 FA Cup Final. [cite book |last=Rowlands |first=Alan |title=Trautmann: The Biography |publisher=Breedon |location=Derby |date=2005 |isbn=1-85983-491-4|pages=164]

Manchester City reached the FA cup final again the following season, Clarke playing all but one match of the cup run. Manchester City played Birmingham City in the final, and were viewed as underdogs, despite reaching the final the previous year. [James, "Manchester City — The Complete Record", p 125] Early in the match Clarke exchanged passes with Don Revie, who set up Joe Hayes for Manchester City to take the lead with less than three minutes played. [James, "Manchester City — The Complete Record", p 122] Birmingham equalised in the first half, but two second half goals meant Manchester City beat Birmingham City 3-1. The final is most well-known for being the match where goalkeeper Bert Trautmann continued play after breaking his neck.

By the 1957–58 season injuries had taken their toll upon Clarke and first team appearances were sparse. After a pre-season game against Borussia Dortmund, which Clarke had played despite carrying a knee injury, manager Les McDowall informed him that he would soon be made available for transfer, [Rowlands, "Trautmann: The Biography", p197] but an injury to Jack Dyson meant Clarke was retained for one more season. [Rowlands, "Trautmann: The Biography", p201] He made seven appearances in his final season at the club, the last in a 5–1 FA Cup defeat to West Bromwich Albion, in which he played centre-forward instead of his customary position on the wing. [cite book |last=Wallace|first=Dave |title=Century City – Manchester City Football Club 1957/58 |publisher=King of the Kippax |date=2007 |location=Leigh |isbn=978-0-9557056-0-1|pages=115] In total he played 349 league matches for Manchester City, scoring 73 goals. He had a brief spell as assistant coach in the latter part of his Maine Road career, but stepped down from the position to allow his former teammate Jimmy Meadows to take the position instead.James, "The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame", p150] In September 1958 he moved to Stockport County for £1,500, [James, "The Official Manchester City Hall of Fame", p150] where he played 25 league matches, scoring 5 goals. He also won 22 full international caps for Wales. [cite book |last=Brandon |first=Derek |title=A–Z of Manchester Football: 100 Years of Rivalry |publisher=Boondoggle |location=London |year=1978|pages=38]

Non-playing career

He later managed Northwich Victoria for a brief period, before returning to Manchester, where he opened a sports shop in Fallowfield. Through his friendship with Bert Trautmann he gained a contract to become the first Adidas merchant in the area, [Rowlands, "Trautmann: The Biography", p190] but the shop closed a few years later as Clarke wished to concentrate upon activities at Manchester City. Clarke became the manager of the Manchester City social club in 1966; he and his wife Kathleen ran the social club together for nearly 25 years. During this time Clarke was a founder of two other Manchester City organisations: the Development Association, which acts as a fund for ground improvements and youth development, and the Former Players' Association, which was co-founded with Paddy Fagan and Roy Little, Clarke serving as secretary. [cite web
title=City legend dies
] In 2004 he was inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame, receiving a lifetime achievement award. Towards the end of his life he suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and died on 13 March 2006, leaving a wife and three daughters. [cite web
title=Stuart Pearce tribute to ex-City great Clarke
publisher=South Wales Argus


As a player

Manchester City F.C.

* FA Cup winner 1956


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