Mans­field Town’s Fourth Di­vi­sion cham­pi­ons of 1974-75

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Neil Fissler

RAY CLARKE says that drop­ping down the di­vi­sions to join Mans­field Town was the best thing he did dur­ing his ca­reer.

Clarke was sold to The Stags by their for­mer boss Danny Wil­liams, then in charge of Swin­don Town, and the deal proved to be a mas­ter­stroke by Mans­field boss Dave Smith as they romped away with the league ti­tle, helped by Clarke’s 28 goals.

Mans­field hit top spot in Oc­to­ber and never looked back – as did Clarke who says that some­times you have to take a chance in football.

“It was the best thing I did,” he says. “Some­times you have to take two steps back­wards to move two steps for­wards.

“Dave Smith went to Mans­field at the end of the pre­vi­ous sea­son and I think he only bought three play­ers – Doug O’Con­nor, Gor­don Hodg­son and me.

“I joined them three days be­fore the sea­son started. I was part of the deal for Danny Wil­liams go­ing from Mans­field to Swin­don.

“I signed on the Tues­day, took my boots up on the train on the Thurs­day and played on the Satur­day and we man­aged to beat Southport 2-1 in the open­ing game.

“The next week we went to Scun­thorpe and I scored the only goal and from there on, I scored for fun.

“I don’t know why. It could have been con­fi­dence, I think I went on a run of scor­ing 18 goals in the next 20 games.”

Clarke can­not speak highly enough of Smith who, he says, wasn’t scared to give his play­ers a tongue lash­ing when it was re­quired or an arm around the shoul­der.

“Dave might have had his lit­tle quirks but he was fan­tas­tic for me, he gave me an op­por­tu­nity.

“He was the type of guy who would put his arm around you on a Mon­day and say you were great on Satur­day.

“I re­mem­ber we were play­ing up at Southport, and he came in the din­ning room and asked me what was wrong. I said ‘We have been here an hour boss wait­ing for some­thing to eat’.


“So he said ‘you know how I feel now when you don’t score for five games’. That is what he was like, I know cer­tain peo­ple never got on with him which caused his demise.

“When you look at the side that we had, it just clicked, we all com­pli­mented one an­other.

“But he kept us on our toes. We lost 3-2 at Stock­port and then 2-1 at Hartle­pool, both times we were in a po­si­tion to win the games.

“He didn’t mince his words, and you ei­ther ac­cepted it or you sulked about it. We were the type of team where it made us bet­ter, we went out more de­ter­mined.

“If you look at the re­sults, we beat the teams around us. We beat Shrews­bury twice.We were ea­ger to play and ea­ger to win. We felt we could do any­thing and we did.”

1. John Haselden: The trainer has worked as a physio for var­i­ous clubs and is now liv­ing in Not­ting­ham where he has his own prac­tice.

2. Paul Matthews: The mid­fielder has worked as a sales rep and then be­came pur­chas­ing man­ager for a Le­ices­ter­shire en­gi­neer­ing com­pany.

3. Colin Foster: Cen­tral defender who set­tled in Peter­bor­ough where he ended his ca­reer and works as a painter and dec­o­ra­tor.

4. Terry Ec­cles: A for­ward who has run a pub in Up­per Pop­ple­ton, been a rep for a chem­i­cal firm, scouted for Southamp­ton and has now re­tired to Mo­jacar, Spain.

5. Gary Scothorn: The goal­keeper ran his own off-li­cense be­fore mov­ing to Lon­don to work as a croupier. He is now a prop­erty de­vel­oper out­side Barns­ley.

6. Rod Arnold: The goal­keeper spent nine years on Hull City’s coach­ing staff, where he still works in hos­pi­tal­ity. He is also goal­keeper coach at Hull Col­lege.

7. Micky Lav­er­ick: The mid­fielder is now liv­ing in Not­ting­hamshire. He joined the prison ser­vice and has been work­ing as a Prison Of­fi­cer at HMP Ranby for many years.

8. Kevin Bird: The cen­tral defender lives in Mans­field and worked in the ware­house for su­per­mar­ket gi­ants Tesco.

9. Jim McCaf­frey: The ex­cit­ing winger be­came a newsagent in the Lake Dis­trict be­fore mov­ing back to Le­ices­ter where he ran a sim­i­lar busi­ness at Glen­field Hos­pi­tal. 10. Clive Walker: The left-back is now liv­ing in Gilling­ham and is the as­sis­tant man­ager of Faver­sham Town. He has run coach­ing schools in the UK and United States.

11. Doug O’Con­nor: The for­ward makes his liv­ing in his na­tive Barns­ley. He has been a youth coach at Oak­well and now works for Ren­tokil.

12. John Lathan: The mid­fielder has coached in Aus­tralia, South Africa and now New York with Man­hat­tan Soc­cer Club since 2004.

13. Sandy Pate: The right-back set­tled in Mans­field where he ran three pubs be­fore tak­ing on a man­age­ment role at Rain­worth Min­ers Wel­fare un­til re­tir­ing.

14. Dave Smith: He now lives in re­tire­ment near Ply­mouth where he ran Soc­cer Schools af­ter leav­ing club man­age­ment fol­low­ing a spell with Torquay United in 1991.

15. Gor­don Hodg­son: The club cap­tain be­came a po­lice­man on re­tir­ing from the game but sadly died in Peter­bor­ough in April 1999 aged just 46.

16. Barry Foster: The left-back – no re­la­tion to Colin – joined the fam­ily mar­ket trad­ing busi­ness in Don­caster

17. Ray Clarke: The star striker ran a ho­tel on the Isle of Man. He now lives in Suf­folk and has spent 17 years as chief scout for a num­ber of clubs, most re­cently Black­burn Rovers.


















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