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
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
tvLouis Smith wins with 'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Sport
sport
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

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there