No Thanks – Dave Clarke
I haven’t had to write about many of the GMVC winning players here, and it seems unusual to be writing about Dave Clarke. I remember him from my earliest games, and that seems a lifetime ago now!
Clarke played at left back for the most of his Imps stay, joining the side in 1987 as Colin Murphy put together a side capable of getting back in the Football League. he came from Notts County with Mick Waitt in a swap deal that saw Gary Lund move to Nottingham. Prior to signing for the Imps he had earned England youth honours with the Magpies.
He even racked up 16 appearances in the old First Division for County. His arrival, as with many of the players signed that summer, was a coup of significant proportion but like his place in history, is often overlooked in favour of some of the bigger name players. He was part of the GMVC-winning team which makes him as important in my childhood as He-Man, Rainbow and Subbuteo.
Injuries often plagued his Imps career and during our first season back in the Football League that was the case. He made 36 appearances in the league, again trading places with Shane Nicholson, scoring three times. He did bag both goals of our League Cup tie with Southampton, proving his worth as a dead ball specialist.
As his Imps career ploughed on he became as dependable as any. He nailed down the left back spot again in 1989/90, only to again pick up an injury and suffer from a lack of games. He missed 16 matches in Colin Murphy’s final season in charge, then played just 14 times in 1990/91.
It seemed as though his days might be numbered as those injuries bit hard, but Clarke persevered. He bounced back under Steve Thompson, making another 30 outings in the league in 1992/93. Never one to shy away from striking the ball from distance, he bagged a wonderful opener against Northampton to give us a 1-0 lead, with Jason Kabia adding a second on a memorable away day.
Clarke’s rotten luck with injuries was about to end his spell with the Imps. He played in both legs of the memorable FA Cup tie with Everton, looking every bit as mobile and committed as he did the first time he pulled on the red and white.
Just a couple of days later he picked up an injury in a game against Doncaster, which the Imps won 2-1. Ian Baraclough took his place and that was the end of Clarke’s Imps’ career, he left for Doncaster at the end of the season.
Could he have stayed with the club? Possibly not, his time was up but it’s still not nice to see a long-serving player move to another club, certainly not one we were up against.