WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Mansfield Town’s Fourth Division champions of 1974-75
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.