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Frank Clark

Frank Clark

Joe Harvey: "I've never seen a winger give Clark a roasting twice. This lad has the lot - pace, judgement, a strong tackle and a sharp mind. He out-thinks other players".

Frank Clark
Bth 09/09/43 Highfield Co. Durham
P/HLB6’ 0”
Jnd11/62 Crook Town £200
Deb 18/04/64 Scunthorpe (A) D2
Dep21/05/75Nottm. Forest Free
A/G 484 (2)2

Left-back Frank Clark was at United for almost 13 years and would have stayed longer if the club hadn't given him a free transfer. He made almost 500 appearances and ranks third in the all-time appearances table.

Clark made his debut at the end of the 1963/64 season and established himself as first-choice left-back in the 1964/65 promotion campaign.

For the next 11 seasons he would make the position his own and would develop one of the best full-back pairings the club has ever had with David Craig.

He had two good feet and could happily fill in at right-back or in the centre of defence. Clark was a model of consistency, rarely praised by fans, but always sticking to his winger like a second skin.

He would rarely dive into a challenge, preferring to defend his ground and bide his time until the player showed enough of the ball for him to get his foot in.

However, he was prepared to make dives as an “auxiliary goalkeeper” saving goal-bound efforts on the line on at least two occasions.

Joe Harvey thought the world of him: "I've never seen a winger give Clark a roasting twice. This lad has the lot - pace, judgement, a strong tackle and a sharp mind. He out-thinks other players".

He famously went over 400 games before scoring his first goal for United against Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup and in celebration a bottle of champagne was shared in the dressing room and all the players signed the match ball.

Clark would deputise as captain when Bobby Moncur was unavailable and Joe Harvey made him captain for the 1974/75 season following Moncur’s move to Sunderland. But that would be the final campaign on Tyneside for both of them with Clark being handed a shock free transfer which “absolutely shattered” him.

The following season Clark was given a much-deserved testimonial and he would enjoy a trophy-laden swansong with Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest until he retired in 1978/79 having won the European Cup in his final game.

Although never considered for the full England team he won representative honours with the Football League.

His style wasn’t always appreciated by the fans, particularly the patrons of the Popular Side. Some thought he was too laid back and slow and did not push forward enough.

Frank was a decent cricketer and played for Lintz in the North-West Durham Cricket League. And he was very popular on away trips in the sixties as he was the club’s “entertainment officer” who played guitar and sang.

Clark was clean-shaven until a mouth injury prevented him from shaving, so taken was he by his new facial accompaniment that he decided to keep it.

Season by Season

Frank Clark
Frank Clark

Pre Toon

He started as a centre-half for Highfield in the Northern Alliance before moving to Crook Town where he won an Amateur Cup medal whilst still a schoolboy. He represented England at youth level and once at amateur level against Holland.

He turned down offers from both Sunderland and Preston to turn professional, but chief scout Temple Lisle persuaded Frank to sign as a part-time professional so he could complete his laboratory technician training.


Signed in November 1962 but broke his leg playing for the reserves against Liverpool in March.

1963/64 (2)

Made his debut in the penultimate game of the season at Scunthorpe.

1964/65 (44)

Took over as first-choice left-back and played in every game in United’s promotion season.

1965/66 (38/1)

Couple of minor injuries and dropped once in September. During the League match at Goodison Park Clark showed his goalkeeping skills when he dived full-length to punch a goal-bound shot from Labone off the line. Somehow the referee missed it and the Toffees were grateful for the linesman’s intervention.

1966/67 (42)

Frank missed the first three games of the season due to a chipped ankle, but returned to play in every match after that.

1967/68 (37)

Missed a couple of months when he suffered a knee ligament injury against Lincoln in the League Cup. Frank is at it again when he tips a Ron Davies header over the bar in the home win over Southampton.

1968/69 (54)

Helped United win the Fairs Cup. Missed a handful of games after he injured his knee when his studs got stuck in the lush turf in Feyenoord.

1969/70 (40)

As with the rest of the defence was in great form during the season. He was injured at the beginning of March and an attempt at a comeback in the home game against Anderlecht ended in him having to be substituted. Had a cartilage operation thereby missing the final run-in. Played for the Football League against the League of Ireland in September.

1970/71 (37)

Spent the summer regaining his fitness only to damage his other knee in a pre-season friendly. Clark was furious after being dropped following the defeat at Nottingham Forest in January claiming he was being made a "scapegoat". He calmed down after a meeting with Chairman Westwood, but had to bide his time in the reserves until he regained his place from deputy Ron Guthrie when he picked up a hamstring injury.

1971/72 (50)

Missed only one game and was an almost permanent fixture at left back although he also deputised at centre-back following Moncur's injury. Took some concerted abuse from the fans on the Popular Side in the New Year.

1972/73 (58)

Consistent as ever Frank again missed only one game once; most of the time he was in his usual left-back slot but once more deputised for Moncur in the centre.

1973/74 (54-2)

Was again first in line for the number 3 shirt although he did also cover at centre-back and played at right-back at Wembley. He made his 350th League appearance during the season and memorably scored his first goals for the club.

1974/75 (24)

Made club captain following the departure of Moncur, but was ruled out at the beginning of the season through a pelvic injury and then when he returned he badly gashed his leg on a corner flag. Further injuries restricted his appearances as did the startling progress of Alan Kennedy. Despite this it was still a shock when he was given a free transfer a few weeks after he and his wife had moved into a new house in Whitley Bay. Clark was “absolutely shattered” and said “I honestly believe they have made a big mistake and, while it is easy to say that, I will just have to prove it now”. Frank signed for second division Nottingham Forest three weeks later.

Post Toon

Won the League, the European Cup and the League Cup (twice) with Nottingham Forest.


Painting by Piotr

cards/stickers from