10 August 2006

Colin Clarke


A prolific scorer at all levels of the Football League, Colin Clarke held the Northern Ireland goalscoring record until surpassed by David Healy...

Name: Colin John Clarke
Born: 30 October 1962, Newry
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 12.10 st
Position: Forward

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 38 Full Caps / 13 Goals (1986-1992).

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
FL Cup
Others
Millvale Swifts
-
-
Youth
(Carnbane League)
Ipswich Town
80/81
-
Youth
0 (0)/  0
-
-
-
Peterborough Utd
81/82-83/84
-
Free
76 (6)/ 18
4(0)/ 2
7(0)/ 2
3(2)/0
Gillingham
83/84
-
Loan
8 (0)/  1
-
-
-
Tranmere Rovers
84/85
-
Free
45 (0)/ 22
2(0)/ 3
2(0)/ 1
4(0)/3
AFC Bournemouth
85/86
-
£22,500
46 (0)/ 26
4(0)/ 2
4(0)/ 3
2(0)/4
Southampton
86/87-88/89
-
£400,000
82 (0)/ 36
3(0)/ 1
13(0)/ 0
1(0)/0
AFC Bournemouth
88/89
-
Loan
3 (1)/  2
-
-
-
Queens.Park.Rangers
88/89-89/90
-
£850,000
39 (7)/ 11
7(0)/ 2
3(0)/ 1
-
Portsmouth
90/91-92/93
-
£450,000
68(17)/ 18
6(0)/ 4
11(0)/ 4
5(0)/1
TOTALS
-
£1,722,500
367(31)/134
26(0)/14
40(0)/11
15(2)/9

Biography:
If it wasn’t for a stuttering start and a premature end to his career, Colin Clarke may have become considered a much bigger star in the history of Northern Ireland football. As it was he made his international bow at 23 and his final appearance at 30, scoring, a then record, 13 goals in 38 caps.

Having signed as a pro with Ipswich Town on his eighteenth birthday Clarke failed to make an impact at a club which at the time was one of the best in England. He was released in July 1981, and signed for Peterborough. Again he failed to impress, and after 18 goals in three seasons he was again released. It was then that Bryan Hamilton snapped him up for Tranmere Rovers. His partnership with John Clayton saw the pair net 65 League and Cup goals, 29 of them scored by Clarke.

In the summer of 1985 Clarke signed for Bournemouth where he netted an impressive 35 times in a single season and was called up by Northern Ireland. He made his international bow against France in February 1986, and scored on his third appearance, against Morocco. His impressive form earned him a place in the Mexico World Cup Finals, where he played a part in all three of Northern Ireland’s games and scored in the 2-1 defeat by Spain following a fluffed clearance by goalkeeper Zubizaretta.

On his return from the World Cup Finals Clarke was linked to a host of clubs, including Italian side Torino. It was however First Division Southampton that signed him for £400,000, £130,000 of which went to Tranmere due to a resale clause. Although he wasn’t quite as prolific in top-flight football, a return of 36 goals in 82 League games showed that he was more than capable at the top level.

Despite scoring in a 2-1 win over Newcastle United on his QPR debut following an £850,000 move in March 1989 Clarke’s spell at Loftus Road was largely unsuccessful. Still he was popular with the club's fans and they were sad to see him go when he was signed by Second Division Portsmouth in June 1990.

In September 1991 Clarke took his Northern Ireland goalscoring tally to twelve with a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over the Faeroe Isles, leaving him equal with Gerry Armstrong and Joe Bambrick and just one behind then record-holder, Billy Gillespie. That same season he helped Portsmouth to the FA Cup semi-finals, where they lost out to Liverpool in a penalty shoot-out.

Early the following season Clarke scored his thirteenth and final goal for Northern Ireland in a 3-0 win over Albania at Windsor Park. On 18th November 1992 he played his final international game, a World Cup qualifier 1-0 defeat against Denmark. Shortly after that game a collision with a goal-post seriously injured his knee, forcing him into retirement. During his twelve year Football League career he played 361 games, and scored 146 goals.

On his retirement from playing Colin Clarke went into catering and coaching. It was the latter at which he excelled, earning an FA badge, before moving to the USA. He was head-coach of Richmond Kickers (1998-99) and San Diego Flash (2000) in the A-League, before becoming assistant-coach of Dallas Burn in the MLS, and head coach at the end of 2003. Following a second consecutive failure at the first stage of the end-of-season play-offs, Clarke was sacked by (the now called) FC Dallas in November 2006, to be replaced by assistant coach, and former international colleague, Steve Morrow.

In January 2007 Clarke returned to soccer as head coach of United Soccer League First Division team, Virginia Beach Mariners. However they folded just two months later. The following May he was appointed head coach at another USL side, Puerto Rico Islanders. In January 2008 he took charge of the Puerto Rico national team, a role he relinquished in 2011. In December 2011 he took charge of Carolina RailHawks.

Colin’s son Lee has represented Northern Ireland at Under-21 level.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
26-02-1986 France........ A D 0-0 FR
26-03-1986 Denmark....... H D 1-1 FR
23-04-1986 Morocco....... H W 2-1 FR. 1 goal
03-06-1986 Algeria....... N D 1-1 WCF sub
07-06-1986 Spain......... N L 1-2 WCF 1 goal
12-06-1986 Brazil........ N L 0-3 WCF
15-10-1986 England....... A L 0-3 ECQ
12-11-1986 Turkey........ A D 0-0 ECQ
29-04-1987 Yugoslavia.... H L 1-2 ECQ 1 goal
14-10-1987 Yugoslavia.... A L 0-3 ECQ
11-11-1987 Turkey........ H W 1-0 ECQ
17-02-1988 Greece........ A L 2-3 FR. 2 goals
23-03-1988 Poland........ H D 1-1 FR

27-04-1988 France........ H D 0-0 FR
21-05-1988 Malta......... H W 3-0 WCQ 1 goal
14-09-1988 Rep of Ireland H D 0-0 WCQ
19-10-1988 Hungary....... A L 0-1 WCQ

21-12-1988 Spain......... A L 0-4 WCQ
08-02-1989 Spain......... H L 0-2 WCQ sub
26-04-1989 Malta......... A W 2-0 WCQ 1 goal
26-05-1989 Chile......... H L 0-1 FR
06-09-1989 Hungary....... H L 1-2 WCQ
11-10-1989 Rep of Ireland A L 0-3 WCQ
27-03-1990 Norway........ H L 2-3 FR
12-09-1990 Yugoslavia.... H L 0-2 ECQ sub
17-10-1990 Denmark....... H D 1-1 ECQ 1 goal
14-11-1990 Austria....... A D 0-0 ECQ
06-02-1991 Poland........ H W 3-1 FR
27-03-1991 Yugoslavia.... A L 1-4 ECQ sub
01-05-1991 Faroe Islands. H D 1-1 ECQ 1 goal
11-09-1991 Faroe Islands. A W 5-0 ECQ 3 goals
16-10-1991 Austria....... H W 2-1 ECQ
13-11-1991 Denmark....... A L 1-2 ECQ
19-02-1992 Scotland...... A L 0-1 FR
02-06-1992 Germany....... A D 1-1 FR
09-09-1992 Albania....... H W 3-0 WCQ 1 goal
14-10-1992 Spain......... H D 0-0 WCQ
18-11-1992 Denmark....... H L 0-1 WCQ

Summary: 34(4)/13. Won 8, Drew 12, Lost 18.


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