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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
When I caught up with Adrian Clarke in London's trendy Camden, it was raining.

"It's raining," he said with a wry smile, as the water pounded against the windows. He glanced outside at the widening pools of water on the pavement, the reflected lights of the traffic turning them into shimmering saucers.  Was he just commenting on the weather, or was it something more? A metaphor for Southend's poor form in 1997-98 perhaps? Who knows.

"I'm Slipperduke," I said quietly.

"Yes," he said. "I know who you are."

Had he been checking up on me? Did he know that I'd been in the crowd for the Coventry League Cup defeat, booing and name-calling when Trevor Fitzpatrick skied an open goal. He was clever. Too clever.

Adrian Clarke joined Southend on loan from Arsenal in March 1997. Despite their subsequent relegation, he made his move permanent that summer. Under new manager Alvin Martin he was an ever present in the side that was then relegated into the basement division. When Alan Little arrived, he brought half of his old York team with. Clarke was forced to watch, like the rest of us, as the likes of Gordon Connelly and Scott Houghton replaced him.

In the summer of 2000 he left Roots Hall and is now Deputy Editor of Icons.com, the official website of the world's leading footballers. He ghost-writes, amongst other things, the Barry Fry column in TakeSport and the Antti Niemi website.

He is rumoured to be working on a new book, though with characterstic modesty, he refuses to speak further about it. I resolved to get him drunk on tea and, with the caffiene coursing through his veins like a runaway train, break him apart with my questions. But he was too clever for that as well.

"Adrian?" I said quietly, as he watched the scattered detritus of London's trendy Camden trudge through the gloom.

"Yes, mate?" he answered, turning back to me.

"I have to ask you some questions. Some important questions. The people gotta know, you know?"

He smiled, a wide roguish smile. "Let's get cracking."


Matt the Shrimp: Was your hairstyle influenced by any boybands and, if so, which pop star did you model yourself on?

Clarkey: Ha ha! No, it was influenced by any boybands! My girlfriend at the time was a hairdresser and I can only assume that she was trying to stop me pulling anyone in Churchills on a Saturday night. It was hair sabotage!


Mad Cyril: When you arrived at Southend did you notice much difference between the managerial styles of Wenger and Martin?

Clarkey: Ha ha! Erm....How do I answer this one? My first manager at Southend was actually Ronnie Whelan and, yes, there was a massive culture shock. When he was on the phone convincing me to join the club, one of his incentives was that, 'there were a lot of good drinkers at the club' and that if I liked a beer I'd fit in well! Then, minutes before my debut, I suddenly realised that he hadn't mentioned set-pieces.  "Who's taking the corners, boss?" I said. "sh!t," said Whelan, "I forgot about that. Erm...you take 'em, son. Swing 'em in, eh?"


N'Zamba Legend: Who was the biggest waster at the club?

Clarkey: There was one bloke there that springs to mind. The Dane who was anything but great, John Neilsen! He had bags of talent, but he just spent all his time eating! He was either in the pub or in the bookies. I think he took to English football a little too well.


Perth Shrimper: Is Arthur C Clarke your Dad?

Clarkey: No! Harry Clarke is my Dad!


Glasgow SUFC: Did they team think they could seriously challenge in 97/98. What went wrong?

Clarkey:Well, I certainly believed that we would, otherwise I wouldn't have signed from Arsenal! I think a number of things went wrong.  Ditching Mike Marsh was a terrible move by the club, but the main problem was that Alvin Martin went on a spending spree and bought loads of old veterans. There just wasn't enough hunger in the side, not enough young faces.


Glasgow SUFC: Was there any dressing room aggro? Eg. when Sada N'Diaye got sent off at Brentford?

Clarkey: That was a shocking tackle, that one! No, generally everyone got on really well. Though Sada N'Diaye actually hated Regis Cobault with a passion. They really didn't get on!


Mad Cyril: Did you think that N'Diaye and Cobault would be the Petit and Vieira of Div 2?

Clarkey: Ha ha! See the previous answer!


CI-City Blue: Do you have any regrets about your time at the Hall?

Clarkey: It sounds bad, but I regret not leaving when I had the chance! Don't get me wrong, I loved it at Southend, but after that first full season there were a number of clubs interested in signing me. Having been a part of the relegated side, I decided to stay and try to get Southend straight back up at the first time of asking.  It didn't work out like that though. Alvin Martin dropped me and then I couldn't get a sniff under Alan Little. Not many clubs come knocking when you've been on the bench for most of the season.


Matt the Shrimp: What was your fondest memory of Southend?

Clarkey: The night we drew 4-4 with York was great. I scored twice and set up the other two, so that sticks in the mind. Also my first goal for the club against Brentford, which was probably the best I ever scored. I think the thing I treasure most about Southend was the reception I got on my last day. Little had let me play the last 15mins against Cheltenham and when the game ended the fans were just magnificent. I knew it was my last game for the club and I was really emotional anyway. I was so chuffed that, even though I hadn't featured much at the end, people seemed to appreciate my efforts. That was fantastic.


Shrimper Sam: If you could change one thing about your time at Roots Hall, what would it have been?

Clarkey: Ha ha! Alan Little! That appointment was bad for me and it was bad for the club! He was a good coach, but he made strange decisions. He filled the club with York players, most of whom didn't even want to be there.


Dave the Shrimper: You share a flat with Slipperduke. How does the reality compare with the depraved stories online?

Clarkey: Ha ha ha! Yeah, I've read some of those stories! What can I say? I reckon at least 10 per cent are probably true! Actually, he's been with Mrs Slipperduke for the last nine months, so it's all been very civilised in the flat. I did meet the Greek girl from the Chlymdia story though and I can confirm that she was a bunny boiler! Nice arse though.


Mad Cyril: Whilst in Devon providing expert analysis of the Plymouth - Southend game for BBC Essex you stated that the Cornish pasty you ate at half-time was, "the best I have ever had." Do you still stand by that statement?

Clarkey: No Cyril, I don't. I've since had one in Liverpool that totally eclipsed it for meaty flavour. It had slighty more spice as well, which I think was the deciding factor.


N'Zamba Legend: Which stand has the worst moaners - East or West?

Clarkey: Hmm, difficult to say. The West could get quite grumpy, but most of the moaning seemed to come from the East Stand Black seats.


M25Shrimper: Would you like to be our next manager? Oh and how does being a journalist compare with playing. For what it's worth, I thought you were one of very few shining lights during our barren years!

Clarkey: Aww, thanks mate. Yes, I'd love to be the next manager of Southend. I think I proved my worth on Football Manager 2006 when I took cash-strapped Brentford to the play-offs while Slipperduke fought off relegation with Southend. I think I could carry on where Tilly left off! But in all seriousness, Tilly deserves all the plaudits he's picked up in recent years. He's living proof that you don't have to be a w%&ker to succeed. How does being a journalist compare? Well, I guess it's the next best thing, but it's no real subsititute. I get to talk about football all day, but nothing compares to actually playing.


Slipperduke: Hong Kong Blue has given us a lot of questions, Clarkey. Can you handle a quick-fire round?

Clarky: Of course I can, fire away!


HKB: How may times did Andy Harris mention his 10 GCSEs?
Clarkey About as many times I told him that I had 10 as well"

HKB: Did he ever make up his mind about who to represent at international level?
Clarkey: I think when he ended up at Leyton Orient, he realised that it wasn't going to be a pressing issue for him!

HKB: Was it intimidating playing alongside such greats of the game as Ben Lewis, Keith Dublin and Simon Livett?
Clarkey: Oi! I'm not knocking Stilo! He's a great bloke and I'm still in touch with him. Did you know he's now a painter and decorator in Las Vegas?

HKB: What's the capital of Costa Rica?
Clarkey: Easy, San Jose.

HKB: Why did you only play 58 times for us?
Clarkey: Alan Little!

HKB: Who was the worst player you were ever dropped in favour of?
Clarkey: I don't want to slaughter anyone, but it didn't seem right to watch Gordon Connelly from the bench.

HKB: What are your views on the prevention of deforestation in penisular Malaysia?
Clarkey: Keep chopping away. I'm a journalist and we need the paper.

HKB: Did you really score 8 goals for us?
Clarkey: Nope, I scored 9.

HKB: Did the players deliberately play badly against Doncaster in an effort to get rid of Alvin Martin?
Clarkey: No! We just had an absolute mare that day. I was as guilty as anyone for missing an absolute sitter. I still feel sick thinking about that one.

HKB: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Clarkey: African or European?

HKB: You must have trained with some of the best: Bergkamp; Wright; Adam; Gridelet; Seaman. Who was the best and why?
Clarkey: Oh, Grido's definitely up there, but he's just pipped by Bergkamp. He'd do stuff in training that would have Ian Wright purring.

HKB: I was at Carlisle for the 5-0 defeat. How many more goals do you think we'd have conceded had Keith Dublin been available?
Clarkey: Possibly a few more! He wasn't in his richest vein of form at that time!

HKB: When you were at The Echo, did Howard Southwood teach you how to report on games without watching them?
Clarkey: I'm afraid I wouldn't know, I was on the news desk and my hands were full with the crime reports from Canvey!

HKB: What would be the worst Southend XI you played with? You can only have Keith Dublin in one position. As a clue you played with Southall, Hails, Dublin, Harris, Lewis, Livett, Maher, McGavin, Roach and N'Diaye.
Clarkey: I think you've got to take Hails and Maher out of that list for starters! I'd add Gordon Connelly, Scott Houghton, David Whyte and put Alan Little in as manager!

HKB: And the best XI? Actually better make it a five-a-side team. Royce, Jobson, Roget, Marsh, Thomson and you as sub?
Clarkey: I'd drop Roget for Newman and play myself from the start!


Slipperduke: Adrian, you've been very patient. Thanks for your time

Clarkey: Slipperduke, it's been no problem at all. I'm very chuffed and a little surprised that so many people sent in questions. All the best to everyone on ShrimperZone!
 
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