Allan Clarke (footballer)

Allan John Clarke (born 31 July 1946 in Short Heath, Willenhall, Staffordshire), nicknamed "Sniffer", is a former footballer who played in the Football League for Walsall, Fulham, Leicester City, Leeds United and Barnsley, and won 19 international caps for England.[2]

Allan Clarke
Personal information
Full name Allan John Clarke
Date of birth (1946-07-31) 31 July 1946 (age 74)
Place of birth Short Heath, Willenhall, Staffordshire, England
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Position(s) Striker, Inside-forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1963–1966 Walsall 72 (41)
1966–1968 Fulham 86 (45)
1968–1969 Leicester City 36 (12)
1969–1978 Leeds United 273 (110)
1978–1980 Barnsley 47 (15)
Total 514 (223)
National team
1970–1975 England 19 (10)
Teams managed
1978–1980 Barnsley
1980–1982 Leeds United
1983–1984 Scunthorpe United
1985–1989 Barnsley
1990 Lincoln City
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career

Early career

Starting his career at Walsall, Clarke made his debut in October 1963 against Reading. He moved to Fulham in March 1966 in a transfer deadline deal. Such was his early promise that Leicester City then paid £150,000 for Clarke in 1968, a then record British transfer fee. He spent just one season at Leicester City, in which he scored the winning goal in the 1969 FA Cup semi final, knocking out the team he had supported as a boy – West Bromwich Albion. He also starred in the final, which Leicester City lost 1–0 to Manchester City.

Leeds United

On 24 June 1969, Leeds United manager Don Revie paid £165,000 to Leicester City for Clarke's services, again breaking the record British transfer fee paid by his previous club. Clarke scored 26 goals in his first season at Leeds and earned the nickname "Sniffer", because of his predatory instincts in front of goal – if there was even the remotest goal scoring opportunity, Clarke would "sniff" it out. Leeds United chased a dream "treble" of League championship, FA Cup and European Cup though ultimately they won nothing. Clarke hit the post in the FA Cup Final at Wembley (with strike partner Mick Jones following up to score the rebound) and then went on a run through several Chelsea defenders in the replay to set up a goal for Jones again, but Leeds United still lost. The title had already gone to Everton who had clinched the title several weeks before the end of the season, and the European Cup campaign ended with defeat to Celtic in the semi-final.(0–1 at Elland Road and 1–2 at Hampden Park)

Clarke was in the Leeds United side which won its second Fairs Cup in 1971 – scoring in the final against Juventus – while again missing out on the League Championship in the last week of the season and losing to Colchester United in the fifth round of the FA Cup (after which he was told by club medics that he was suffering from pleurisy).

Leeds United reached the FA Cup Final again in the competition's centenary year and at Wembley they faced Arsenal, the Cup holders. Clarke scored the only goal of the game with a diving header from a Jones cross early in the second half. He had hit the crossbar with another diving header earlier in the game. Unfortunately for Clarke and Leeds, they lost the League title and the chance of emulating Arsenal's previous season "double" when they lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers two days after winning the FA Cup.

Clarke played again at Wembley – and lost – when Leeds United were beaten 1–0 by Sunderland in the 1973 FA Cup Final. Clarke was again Leeds United's top scorer as Leeds United won the league title in 1974, including a run of 29 opening matches without defeat. Leeds United lost the 1975 European Cup Final to Bayern Munich 2–0 and were denied a clear penalty when Clarke was tackled from behind and felled by Franz Beckenbauer in the penalty area.

After this match the Revie side started to break up – their manager had left in 1974 for the England job – and Clarke himself left the club in 1978 after 351 appearances and 151 goals, with a knee injury curtailing his ability to play at top-flight level. His last major act in a Leeds United shirt was to score in the 1977 FA Cup semi-final, but the game ended 2–1 to Manchester United.

International career

Clarke was called up for England's 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico, despite being uncapped.[3] He made his debut for his country against Czechoslovakia in the heat and pressure of a World Cup first round match. Clarke scored the only goal of the match from the penalty spot. He remains the last England player to make his international debut in a World Cup finals match. Over the next five years he appeared a total of 19 times for England, scoring 10 goals. England reached the quarter-finals of the European Football Championships in 1972 but did not get through their qualifying group for the 1976 tournament, or for the 1974 World Cup.

In 1973, he was in the England team which needed to beat Poland at Wembley to qualify for the 1974 World Cup. A goal down, England were awarded a penalty from which Clarke scored, but he was among many England players to be thwarted by the Polish goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski. A 1–1 draw was not enough and England did not go through to play in the 1974 World Cup.

Managerial career

Clarke was appointed Barnsley player-manager on 31 May 1978[4] and under him they won promotion to the old third Division in May 1979, Clarke scoring 12 goals himself that season including a hat-trick against Port Vale on Boxing Day. On 29 December 1979 Barnsley lost 7–0 at Reading and Clarke decided to end his playing career. He took his players down Woolley Colliery to show them what they could have been doing for a living.[5][6] Clarke then began to bring in new players such as Trevor Aylott and Derrick Parker and Ian Evans and Barnsley finished mid-table. Leeds United asked Clarke to come back as manager in September 1980. Leeds finished 9th under Clarke at the end of the first season, but the following season, they were beaten 5–1 at Swansea on the opening day, and only won once until October. The club was relegated and Clarke was sacked on 25 June 1982. He then was manager at Scunthorpe United between February 1983 and 24 August 1984, when he and the chairman both resigned. He led Scunthorpe to promotion to the Third Division in May 1983, but a year later they were relegated.

Clarke had another spell at Barnsley between 1 July 1985 and 8 November 1989. Despite having no money to spend, low gates, and being forced to sell players such as David Hirst and John Beresford, Clarke led Barnsley to the fifth round of the FA Cup twice, when they were knocked out by Arsenal in 1987 and Everton in 1989. At the end of 1988–89 season, Barnsley finished just two points off securing a play-off place, losing only twice in the last 17 games. However, in the following season Barnsley played poorly and with the club third from bottom in the Second Division, he was sacked. Clarke was Lincoln City manager for six months but he was sacked on 30 November 1990 to be replaced by Steve Thompson. After a few months scouting for Derby County, Clarke has not been employed in football since.

Life outside football

From 1993 until he reached retirement age[7] Clarke was a travelling salesman for MTS Nationwide, a firm based at Wakefield, West Yorkshire. He has, however, remained an outspoken critic of the game, and like all the Leeds United players of the Revie era, has remained fiercely protective of the reputation of both the manager and the club. He has suffered from arthritic knees in recent years.

Clarke now lives in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

The Clarke footballing brothers

Allan was the second of five brothers to play the professional game – four of whom played for Walsall across three decades. Frank was the only Clarke brother not to represent Walsall, playing for Shrewsbury Town, Queens Park Rangers, Ipswich Town and Carlisle United; Derek played for Walsall, Oxford United and Orient; Kelvin played for Walsall; and the youngest sibling, Wayne Clarke, played for Walsall towards the end of his career after successful spells with Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City and Everton (where he won the League championship in 1987). He also represented England at schoolboy level.

Career statistics

Details of Clarke's career:[8]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
SeasonClubLeague AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals AppsGoals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1963–64Walsall[9]Third Division60000060
1965–66FulhamFirst Division81000081
1968–69Leicester CityFirst Division361281234616
1969–70Leeds UnitedFirst Division281797--524226
1978–79BarnsleyFourth Division34123220--3914
1979–80Third Division1332130164
Total England 514223609285
Career total 514223


Leeds United[10]

Leicester City[11]



  1. Rollin, Jack, ed. (1980). Rothmans Football Yearbook 1980–81. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 58. ISBN 0362020175.
  2. "Allan Clarke". UK A–Z Transfers. Neil Brown. Archived from the original on 30 January 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  3. Allan Clarke Statistics FIFA. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
  4. Barnsley Chronicle - 2 June 1978
  6. A Yorkshire Tragedy: The Rise and Fall of a Sporting Powerhouse By Anthony Clavane
  8. "Allan Clarke". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmermann. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  9. Matthews, Tony (1999). The Complete Record of Walsall Football Club. Breedon Books. ISBN 978-1859831564.
  10. "Leeds United F.C. History - Allan Clarke". OZ White LUFC. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  11. "Manchester City 1 Leicester City 0". FA Cup Finals. 26 April 1969. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  12. "Allan Clarke". England Football Online. Retrieved 1 October 2014.