Why Wayne Said ‘No’ To Clough
Wolves Came Ahead Of Even Old Big ‘Ead
Wayne Clarke has revealed how he once shunned an approach from Brian Clough in favour of Wolves – and was flattered by a dug-out gesture from the manager many years later.
The skilful forward might have followed in the footsteps of older sibling Allan by serving the man who performed wonders at Derby and Nottingham Forest either side of his infamous spell at Leeds.
But a yearning for home and a love of Molineux prompted the youngest of football’s five famous brothers to stay in the West Midlands instead and concentrate on a career that brought him 170 appearances and 33 goals with the club.
Clough was in charge at Forest when Wayne was approached and invited for talks in the East Midlands.
“I went with my parents to Burton, where we had been told we were going out for a meal with the boss,” Clarke said. “But, when we got there, he was standing at the bar with his squash kit, swinging his racket and clutching half a lager.
“He apologised for not being able to make the meal but said he needed to shoot off and take a shower. He left us in the hands of the club’s youth development officer, but said: “Look, I want you to come to us.'”
Clarke, who was in his teens at the time, continued: “I think the two of us could have got on just fine but I was a bit of a home-bird and it was a bit of a no-brainer when Wolves came in for me.
“I had been to Arsenal and Leeds for trials while Everton and Liverpool were also keen on taking me. I preferred to stay nearer home, though, and that was that.
“But, some years later, I went on as a half-time substitute for Manchester City at the City Ground and felt a sharp nudge in the back as I was making my way down the tunnel.
“It came with an unmistakable voice: ‘Young man, you’d have been a better player if you had come and signed for me.’
“I smiled, made my way on to the pitch and, mid-way through the half, scored with a diving header to clinch victory. I turned towards the dug-outs and there was Cloughie giving me his distinctive thumbs-up as if to say ‘great goal, son.'”
The story has been fed by Wolves Heroes to Wolverhampton-born Daily Star journalist Dave Armitage and is one of more than 140 that appear in his outstanding newly-published book, Clough Confidential.
The £18.99 hard-back, by Telford-based Hot Air Publishing, is described on the front cover as ‘A stunning new collection of stories’ and contains anecdotes from a number of other former Wolves men.
Hugh McIlmoyle explains how the peace of a coffee stop on the A1 was shattered by Clough’s sudden appearance and one of ex-Molineux youth coach John Perkins’ two entries tells the tale of what happened on a stop-off at a chippie when he and his boss realised they had no money to pay for the 20 lots of fish and chips they had just had bagged up for a squad of youngsters.
Other interviewees include Bobby Gould, Alan Hinton, Andy Gray, Bob Wilson and Wolves-supporting long-time News of the World journalist David Harrison, who recounts how his seven-year-old son Daniel was almost presented with the OBE by Clough.