Roy Clarke

Pacy Manchester City winger


Royston James Clarke, footballer: born Newport, Monmouthshire 1 June 1925; played for Cardiff City 1942-47, Manchester City 1947-58, Stockport County 1958-59; capped 22 times by Wales 1948-56; married (three daughters); died Sale, Cheshire 13 March 2006.

For a decade in the middle of the 20th century, Roy Clarke offered everything that might be expected of a winger in the top flight of English football. Manchester City's wiry Welsh international flier was a dashing entertainer, both pacy and tricky; he packed a venomous left-foot shot and he refused to be intimidated by the violent attentions of hulking defenders whose delight it was to deposit slim flankmen such as he over the touchline and into the (mostly) cloth-capped crowd.

Clarke, who turned in a brightly inventive Wembley display against the polished England right-back Jeff Hall as the Mancunians beat Birmingham City in the 1956 FA Cup final, also excelled for Wales throughout the first half of the 1950s, until he was supplanted by Cliff Jones, 10 years his junior.

A natural all-round sportsman, Clarke excelled at swimming and rugby as a boy. He experienced an early taste of international competition with the Welsh schools baseball team, but it was at football that he shone most persistently. After leaving school, he worked in coal mines during the Second World War, but found time to play for the Newport amateur side Albion Rovers, then was spotted by Cardiff City, who signed him in December 1942.

Clarke's game developed rapidly at Ninian Park and he played for Wales against Northern Ireland in an unofficial "Victory" international in 1946, then starred as the Bluebirds romped to the Third Division South title in the first post-conflict League campaign.

By then his penetrative talent was being sought by several leading clubs, and in April 1947 the shy 21-year-old was sold to Manchester City for £12,000. Soon he claimed the unusual, probably unique, distinction of playing in three different divisions of the Football League in consecutive games. After his farewell outing for Cardiff, Clarke lined up for the Maine Road club in their final match of a Second Division season in which they had already secured promotion as champions; thus his next appearance was in the First Division at the outset of 1947/48.

From the day of his Manchester City début there was little doubt that Clarke would make his mark in the top tier. By the time he made his full international entrance against England at Villa Park in November 1948, he was a regular member of the City attack. In 1949/50 City suffered the trauma of relegation, but they bounced back at the first attempt, then spent several terms in the wrong half of the table before stabilising in mid-decade, when they reached two consecutive FA Cup finals.

Clarke was outstanding on the Wembley trail in 1955, scoring the only goal of the semi-final against Sunderland with a spectacular diving header on a Villa Park quagmire, only to be shattered by a knee injury in the dying moments which was destined to sideline him for the final. Though subsequently he looked likely to make a timely recovery, he received another knock on the damaged joint and missed the Wembley defeat by Newcastle United.

There was redemption in store as the much-improved Blues reached the next final, where they faced Birmingham. Resplendent in maroon-and-white striped shirts, rendered necessary by a colour-clash with their opponents, they made an ideal start, with Clarke playing an integral role in a slickly worked goal after three minutes. The centre-forward Don Revie slid the ball to the Welshman on the left flank, then the deep-lying schemer ran forward to take a precise return before deftly setting up Joe Hayes to net from close range. Soon Birmingham equalised, but in the second half, Manchester City seized control. The northerners prevailed 3-1, thanks to further goals from Jack Dyson and Bobby Johnstone.

By now Clarke had reached his thirties and had won the last of his 22 caps for Wales but he completed another two terms in the top flight before accepting a move to Third Division Stockport County in September 1958. After one season at Edgeley Park, he spent a brief spell as manager of non-League Northwich Victoria before establishing a local sportswear business.

But Roy Clarke was far from finished with Manchester City. In 1960 he returned to Maine Road to run the development office for six years, then he and his wife Kath took over the management of the Blues' new social club, running it for more than 20 years with enormous success. Roy was nothing loath to get his hands dirty, being ready to sort out the plumbing or use a hammer and nails in an emergency.

An affable character, he was a leading light in the Manchester City Former Players Association, and after his retirement he conducted supporters' tours of Maine Road, proving an eloquent ambassador for the club to which he had given most of his life.

Ivan Ponting

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?