Sunday, 5 December 2010
211 Chris Clarke
Position : Goalkeeper
Played : 1994-95 to 1995-96
Appearances : 30
Goals : 0
So we come to the 1994-95 season, not a very happy time for me personally and events at the club largely matched that. We saw the end of Dave Sutton, a woefully botched attempt to replace him and the start of a five year re-acquaintance with the lower half of the table. I remember going on the pitch after the Scunthorpe game which rounded off the previous season. Sutton came out with a mike and said "We're going up next season no doubt about it". Naturally enough there was a cheer at this but it was lukewarm; my friend turned to me stone-faced and said "Remember where you heard it first". That was the general feeling - that Sutton was a tired act at the end of the pier. Shortly afterwards Chester's promotion-winning manager Graham Barrow quit and many openly called for Sutton to be replaced by him.
It didn't happen so we now discuss his last crop of summer signings only one of whom was any good. With Martin Hodge walking out on him, Sutton had to find another keeper and despite the Gareth Gray disaster he went for another untried keeper from Bolton. Chris actually got off to a good start ; he was brave and agile and pulled off some spectacular saves particularly in an early away game at Gillingham. Unfortunately he took a kick to the head in the Auto-Windscreen game at Blackpool and was out until the following February. By this time confidence in the side was running low but Chris did OK until heavy defeats at Darlington and Fulham in the last two away games raised question marks about him.
In the summer of 1995 Mick Docherty signed one of his stand-ins, Ian Gray, on a permanent basis and Chris became second choice. He didn't get a game until December when Gray had to have an operation. That meant he was in the nets for the FA Cup tie at Anfield where he had a nightmare, his blunder for the second goal opening the floodgates. It's clear from Kicking In The Wind that his team-mates had no confidence in him and Docherty soon decided that loanees were a better option. Chris appeared once more in the final game of the season away at Hereford (a forgettable 2-0 defeat but a red letter day for me as I spoke to my future wife for the first time that evening) then he was released. I actually got told off for shouting "Good luck Clarkie" at the end of the game as people thought it was cruel.
Chris re-joined Dave Sutton at Chorley and plied his trade in non-league for a number of seasons.