Roy Clarke

Roy Clarke
FOR A MAN who had no intention of coming to Maine Road, Roy Clarke hasn’t done badly. In fact, he’s never left the place in 26 years and behind Albert Heath and Johnny Hart he’s City’s longest serving employee.
Roy laughs about that May day in 1947 when he left his native Wales for the first time for Manchester. “I was frightened and I was happy with Cardiff. I had the signing forms in my pocket for a week and I only came north for a look round.
“I had no intention of signing for City. After all I was getting married the following week.”
But Roy quickly changed his mind about moving once City had found him a house. The fee was £10,000 – and it turned out to be a bargain for a Welsh international left winger.
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His first three matches are still a record. “I’m the only player to have played in three consecutive matches in three divisions of the Football League,” says Roy. “Cardiff were in Division Three (South) and I made my debut for City against Newport County in Division Two in June, 1947.
“We were promoted and the following season my next match was the First Division against Wolves in August.
Roy, of course, had a great career. He was pulled out of the Cup Final team only three days before the ’55 final because of a badly injured knee but the following year more than made up for that disappointment.
Even when Roy left for Stockport as player and coach in 1958 and then for Northwich in 1963 he was still at Maine. Road helping out in some capacity or other.
His committment to City became total againwalsall league cup 2nd replay 1973 to 74 in 1966 when the Social Club opened. He helped mastermind the whole operation and quickly made it into Britain’s best.
He has the Club Mirror award for the best club in Britain (out of 7,000) to prove it. “My aim is to give the best to our 5,000 members,” adds Roy. “The club is a centre for sporting activities for people.
Roy still works between 12 and 15 hours a day – seven days a week. “I’d still do it if I won the pools.” He gets tremendous help from his wife Kathleen.
Roy, a teetotaller and nonsmoker, is a proud family man with three daughters Kathleen (24), Jane (20), studying at London University, and Helen (91). And he’s a proud grandfather, too.
“My grandson’s left foot is coming along nicely,” reports Roy. “I took him to his first game last week when City played Leeds.”
Roy Clarke Social club
Over the years, Manchester City spent as much time and money in the transfer bazaars as did most clubs. And like all discerning shoppers, they did not always buy what they went for. For example in 1949 they sent a deputation to the wilds of Perthshire to sign Jimmy Paterson who played centre forward for Luncarty Juniors. Instead, they retmned home with Dave Ewing. A couple of years before that, they went in search of Billie Rees of Cardiff City but in the end, after several inspections, they opted for Clarke. They never had cause to regret either preference.
Royston Clarke hailed from Newport, Monmouthshire, and from an early age he was determined that whatever his future, he would not be a misht. He played both codes of football and was “capped” for Wales at baseball, but before the Knickerbockers or Dodgers could lay hands on him and transport him to America, Clarke had joined Cardiff City while still in his teens. A combination of unusual circumstances led to his playing in successive matches for promoted sides.
With Manchester City, Clarke played in nearly 400 League and FA Cup matches, and to this day he and I often wonder how he managed it. He was not yet 20 when he was informed that he would never play football again so badly damaged were his knees. In later years he received other injuries which would have finished a lesser man, and he also shrugged off a skin complaint. Mind you, the skin rather than Clarke did the complaining.
My first sight of Clarke in action was against Wolverliariipton Wanderers on August 28, 1947 at Maine Road where he scored one of City’s four goals. Later that season he scored twice against Burnley also at Maine Road although for the most part he was content to be a provider for others. Apart from injuries, he made the left wing position his own while on the right Wharton, Linacre, Munro, Oakes (Jackie), Hogan, Bootle, Turnbull, Hart, Allison, Gunning, Meadows, Spurdle, Anders, Hayes, Fagan, McClelland and Johnstone all came and went or operated in other positions.
Clarke was built for speed rather than comfort. People used to say that he was too frail, too sickly-looking ever to make the top grade. Nevertheless, only the very best backs got the better of him as he chased along the ground with his eyes fixed on the ball or on his boots as if afraid that he might lose the lot. Whether or not he was fitted with some personal radar system I never knew, but I cannot recall that he ever crashed head on into an opponent. Instinct made him look up at the crucial moment and then a body swerve and a perfect centre would leave the opposing back firmly convinced that he had been beaten by a ghost.
Misfortune seldom left him alone for long, but Clarke always gave as good as he received. In 1955 he scored a marvellous goal with his head in a Cup semi-final against Sunderland in the cruel mud of Villa Park. Soon afterwards he was carried off injured and exhausted and did not know that City had won until his jubilant colleagues entered the dressing room at the iinish. A few weeks later, Clarke returned to Villa Park for a League game and yet another injury caused him to miss the Cup final although compensation arrived the following year.
In 1957, Clarked realised that his first class playing days were numbered and he became a successful businessman. But he still knew that he could do something for City and he became an assistant coach. The following year City wanted him to carry ron in that capacity but when Clarke knew that Jimmy Meadows, whose own career had ended prematurely, also had his eyes on a coaching job at Maine Road, Clarke generously stood down and subsequently moved to Stockport County. And eventually to the City Social Club where he carries out his duties with that thoroughness and dedication which characterised his entire career with City.
Royston Clarke belonged to an era when centre forwards were grateful that wingers were wingers and played as such. An era in which football craftsmen were not subjected to the whims of managers who all too ·readily made changes for changes’ sake, and who thought, mistakenly, that progress always meant going forward. If Clarke had been, say, in his early 20s and was playing today, he probably would not have made as big an impact as he did in the early 1950s. Certainly he would have been no good at all to those modem scandal mongers to whom what is said and done off the field counts for more than what happens on it. Clarke never said an uncharitable thing in his life, never perpetrated an unfair act. In my book, full of names and deeds going back 30 years, Clarke holds a worthy place along with Ewing, Johnny Hart, Alan Oakes and one or two more among the genuine characters who have graced City tearns.· They will not, must not be forgotten.
Played Rugby at School – represented Newport Town Schoolboys at Rugby, Swimming, Table Tennis.
Played International Baseball for Wales against England (lost by l3 runs)
A General Engineer by trade, was working as a pit engineer whilst playing part time for Cardiff City (war conditions). Gained first cap in a victory international against Ireland.
Transferred to Manchester City — played in three divisions in successive matches, Cardiff City 3rd, Manchester City 2nd (last match of season) promoted to lst division and played in first match.
Did not play for a period of three months 1953/54 season due to having hospital imnacy treatment for weeping eczema January, 1953 — 25th March,1953
Transferred to Stockport County September 19th 1958.
Became Pools Promoter for Manchester City and then on lst April 1966 became Social Club Manager, the position held at present.
Won the Club Mirror — Club of the Year award for the finest Club in Great Britain in 1971 and 1974. Won a merit award in 1972.
He is now equally well known in the entertainment world as he was in the football world as a player.
 Roy Clarke HALL OF FAME
Roy Clarke, one of the greatest club servants in City’s history, sadly died last week, aged 80.
A classic winger, Roy made a total of 369 appearances for City, scoring 79 goals. He was also capped 22 times by Wales.
Born in Newport on 1st June 1925, Roy joined City in their 1946/47 season. When he first arrived at the club many claimed he was too frail to make the top grade, People quickly realised though, that appearances can be deceptive. Clarke, often with his head down, would charge forward, looking up at the crucial moment before body-swerving an opponent then producing a perfect centre.
He scored in the 1955 FA Cup semi-final, against Sunderland at Villa Park to give City a place at Wembley but injury prevented him from featuring in the final, which City lost to Newcastle. The following year, City were back at Wembley and Roy Clarke was a valuable member of the side that defeated Birmingham 3-1.
At the end of his footballing career, Roy took up a coaching position at Stockport County, followed by a brief stint as manager at Northwich Victoria. However he soon returned to his beloved Maine Road to manage the City Social Club with his wife Kath. Here he was to remain as manager for some 25 years, helping bring success of a different kind to the Blues. Roy was also instrumental in the establishment of the Development Association and the Junior Blues.
City General Secretary, Bernard Halford, said; “Roy Clarke will rightly be remembered not only for the great effort and enjoyment he gave on the pitch, but also for the enormous efforts he made off the pitch to turn City into one of the country’s friendliest and approachable clubs. Roy was a true gentleman and ambassador and will be sadly missed.”
Roy was recently given a Life Time Achievement award and inducted into the City Hall of Fame in January 2004, an honour which he collected with his wife Kath. On accepting his award Roy boasted proudly to the audience, ‘We love City. We really love City!”
Roy C|arke’s life was celebrated with a minute’s applause prior to the FA Cup 5th round replay victory over Aston Villa last Tuesday.

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10.11.48 Wales Vs. England
9.11.49 Wales Vs. Scotland
23.11.49 Wales Vs. Belgium (1)
8. 3.50 Wales Vs. N. Ireland
21.10.50 Wales Vs. Scotland
15.11.50 Wales Vs. England
7. 4.51 Wales Vs. N. Ireland (2)
12. 5.51 Wales Vs. Portugal
16. 5.51 Wales Vs. Switzerland
20.10.51 Wales Vs. England
20.11-.51 Wales Vs. Scotland
5.12.51 Wales Vs. Rest of United Kingdom
19. 3.52 Wales Vs. N.Ireland (1)
10.10.52 Wales Vs. Scotland
12.11.52 Wales Vs. England
10.10.51 Wales Vs. England
4.11.53 Wales Vs. Scotland
31. 3.54 Wales Vs. N. Ireland `
22. 9.54 Wales Vs. Yugoslavia


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