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Is Paul Clark one of the greatest 12 figures in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    94
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,894
Location
London
The Viking

That alone might be enough words for many on here to vote yes to Paul Clark, but if you weren't fortunate enough to have witnessed his crunching tackles and never say die attitude, I suppose I should give a lengthier bio.

The first local player up for election, Clark was born in Benfleet and joined the club as an apprentice. An England schoolboy and youth international, he made his league debut on the opening day of the season at the tender (a phrase not normally associated with Clarky) age of 17, as Southend beat Watford 2-1.

The young Clark featured in around half the games that season as the Blues finished 10th in division 4. The following season saw Clarky open his Southend goalscoring account, with a goal against the real Dons, but just as he'd looked to establish himself in the Southend team, he was snapped up by 2nd division Brighton, with Gerry Fell moving in the opposite direction. Southend went on to finish 2nd and gain promotion with Fell a prominent part, whilst Clarky helped drive Brighton to the verge of the top flight, only to miss out to Spurs on goal average.

Clarky in the heart of the Brighton midfield helped them go one better and secure promotion the following season. In the top flight he struggled with injuries and made just 11 appearances the next season, although he still managed to score against both Liverpool and Man City. Unfortunately it was a similar story in the following two seasons and Clarky left to rejoin his hometown club.

A combination of injuries and suspensions (although I can't think why) meant that he missed a number of games over the next few seasons, and perhaps missing his influence, Southend were relegated in 1983/84 and then slumped to an unedifying 20th in division 4.

The appointment of subsequent Hall of Famer Dave Webb in 1986 however sparked Southend after the disappointment of finishing 9th the previous year. For the first time Clarky was an ever present playing all 56 games that year and helping inspiring Southend to promotion. Indeed such an inspiration was Clark that when Webb walked out after a bust up with Jobson (still no nominations!), it was the 27 year old Clark that the club turned to as caretaker manager. Clark didn't disappoint and finished the job of guiding the team back to the 3rd tier of English football.

Disastrously the following season the club appointed Dick Bate ahead Clark, but it took only 8 league games (and 28 goals conceded) for the club to realise its mistake and fire the useless Bate and hastily reinstate Clarky, making him the youngest manager in the league. Clark's first game back in charge was the small matter of top flight Derby County, boasting England internationals like defender Mark Wright, future useless manager John Gregory and the legendary goalkeeper Peter Shilton in the league cup. Amazingly Southend pulled off arguably their biggest ever cup shock thanks to Roy McDonough's penalty and even more amazingly a clean sheet for Eric Steele. To show it wasn't a fluke the team then went and kept a clean sheet in the second leg at the Baseball Ground to pull off a stunning upset. As player-manager Clarky managed to guide Southend to the safety of 17th place.

Sadly those heroics couldn't be repeated the following season. Clark played just 16 games as Southend were relegated, with Dave Webb returning midway through the season as general manager.

Manager for 99 league games of which Southend won 35 but lost 38 might not sound that impressive, but a promotion and keeping the side up the following season was. Clark's biggest legacy as manager was however in the transfer market where he signed Hall of Fame nominees Paul Sansome and David Crown (the only manager to have signed two HoF nominees?) and midfielder Peter Butler. Along with Clarky himself these four were to form the spine of the legendary double promotion team.

Whilst his time as manager might have been over, his time as player most certainly wasn't. The Blues bounced straight back, with Clarkey forming a particularly effective partnership with on-loan Guy Butters in the second half of the season.

The 1990/91 season was at the time probably the greatest season in the club's history. Clark was a rock at the back, missing just 6 games all season and if elected, he'll be the first player who started at Bury, the most famous game in the club's history, to be so honoured.

Bury would have been a fitting send off to his Southend career, but the last two games of the season were anti-climaxes as we missed out on the title that we so richly deserved. At the end of the season Clarky left for the security of a longer contract at Gillingham, a move I certainly didn't begrudge him, although it was hard to take as the previous season they'd come in and knicked Crowny away.

The image of Clark with his flowing blonde mane and beard thundering into a tackle, is for me one of the defining images of being a Shrimper. In fact his tackle on Steve Bull, surely the most famous in Southend history, is arguably worthy of Hall of Fame inclusion alone. For those that didn't see it, he got the ball cleanly and he never touched Bull;)

These days Clarky is often to be found providing the radio commentary on Southend games, where his passion always shines through. His incisive analysis on Southend's defensive shortcomings is always particularly revealing.

The whole point of a Hall of Fame is surely to honour men like Clarky. Fifth in the all-time appearance list.... captain (de facto if not de jure) of the legendary 1990/91 side..... a local boy and former apprentice who represented Southend United at international level as a schoolboy and youth and then in the top flight as a Southend graduate..... player-manager guided the club to promotion, keeping them up.... inspiring the team to arguably our greatest cup upset.... signing the spine of the team of our glory years..... As player, captain and inspiration, driving us to consecutive promotions.... part of 4 promotions - surely a club record (shared with Spencer Prior).....If Southend have had a tougher tackler, I'd have loved to have seen them.

The word legend is over used these days: it should be reserved for men like Clarky.

Top five in appearances + would run through brick walls + 4 promotions + played at a higher level = Hall of Fame.

Paul Clark
Southend United 1976*-1977, 1982-1991
*Signed professionally, was an apprentice at Southend before this
Total appearances 358 (league 300+11, FA Cup 13+1, League Cup 15+2, Other cup 16+1)
Total goals 7 (4 league, 1 FA Cup, 1 League cup (an equaliser against Col Ewe no less) and 1 other cup
Promotions 4: 1977-78, 1986-87, 1989-90, 1990-01
Relegations 2: 1983-84, 1988-89
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,889
Location
Benfleet
100% yes from me. Was lucky enough to see him at the start of his career for us, always been the type of whole hearted player you want.
 

Mohave Shrimper

formerly Drastic™
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
Messages
8,821
Location
Lake Havasu City, USA
I never saw Paul Clark play, but the words 'The Viking' are ones I've often heard over my years as a Blues fan, and i enjoy hearing his comments on BBC Essex.

The description of his character as player (and manager) and his record of acheivements/appearances etc. have pursued me.
 

number11

"Good morning everybody........"
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
5,589
After bucking my trend of 'no-votes' in these polls by backing Sansome, I guess there must be something about the late 80 /early 90's era that I hold a special affection for. At an age when I would go over the park pretending to be the Southend players my Dad was taking me to watch, I guess I will always look back fondly on this era.

I started watching Southend in 1986 and to me Paul Clark was THE abiding memory of that era. I don't know whether it was just the beard, but he seemed ferocious.

I dont really recall him being 'that' big for a centre back, but he was absolutely fearsome. Was the classic defender you love to have in your team, could read the game to give him that half a yard headstart, but no doubt on occassions would delay so he could take ball and man in one go. Every ball was attacked like it was posing a threat to his home, every attacker tackled like they had personally insulted his family. For his playing alone he should be a hall of famer.

However, his management contribution is often vastly underrated and underlooked. Has a team ever had a more disasterous start then that inflicted upon us by Dick Bate? From there he brought in the likes of Crown and Butler to keep us up. After Webb and throughout the 90's I was always surprised he was not one of the front runners for top position here, but even now on radio his passion for Southend comes through.

Paul Clark; my first Southend hero and for me worthy of the Hall of Fame.
 

Csboy

Manager
Joined
Dec 8, 2003
Messages
1,599
2nd only to Ron Pountney in terms of legendary status. Yorkshire blue has done a great job in listing all his achievements while at Southend not much more that I can add only that he also had a decent long throw on him that set up a few goals.

Has to be in the HOF, I would be very interested in hearing from the 5 people who have voted no and their reasons for voting no because I can't think of any.
 

BARNETBLUE

First XI
Joined
Mar 20, 2005
Messages
579
I saw Paul Clark from his first performances.What struck me was that at 17ish( being just under 1 year older than myself) he was already a man.Physically, and competetively, and it was clear he had something about him.It was a dissapointment that he left for Brighton, and I felt we got the poor end of the deal in Gerry Fell too!

So for me, a definate "Hall inclusion"...Thanks for the memories Viking!
 

steve54

Youth Team
Joined
Nov 23, 2005
Messages
106
anyone see the big match revisited this sunday it showed a young paul clark score for brighton v orient in a 3-3 draw.
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,889
Location
Benfleet
I saw Paul Clark from his first performances.What struck me was that at 17ish( being just under 1 year older than myself) he was already a man.Physically, and competetively, and it was clear he had something about him.It was a dissapointment that he left for Brighton, and I felt we got the poor end of the deal in Gerry Fell too!

So for me, a definate "Hall inclusion"...Thanks for the memories Viking!

I think that's probably why I've never been able to hate Brighton as much as some do, purely because he went there.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Messages
22,733
Location
Canvey Island
I remember a match early in his career at Roots Hall against IIRC Stockport, and he was outstanding on the night, and it was obvious we had a decent player on our hands. It was obvious he had all the attributes to make it and it was no surprise when eventually a decent bid came for him, and we got Gerry Fell in part exchange.!

At he time I worked with a Brighton fan who thought he would play for England, I have an idea that he was called into U-21/23 squads, but I think injuries and possible lack of real pace put paid to his chances. He was called the Tank at Brighton.

It was great to see his return to Roots Hall, both as a player and manager, Clark was a true Southend stalwart and always worth a listen when he's the co commentator on BBC Essex. Not a waffler like Phillips, and I'd like to hear his views more often on the club that is at his heart.

I've no wish to indulge in a witch hunt with the dissenters but I'd be interested to hear their views as to why he shouldn't be in. Where I've voted no I have tried to give some justification rather than a no comment.

A definite for the HoF IMO.
 

Southend Neil

First XI
Joined
Nov 27, 2008
Messages
357
A yes for me because of the reasons given above. Also his management contribution at such a young age musn't be understated.

To be fair I think people may have voted no because to be honest we have had a few better defenders, however he should be in as he more than meets all the other criteria.
 
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