Ian Clarkson

Experienced defender Ian Clarkson served Harriers tremendously as the 90s turned into the noughties…

Former Harriers man Ian Clarkson, pictured here in 2001

Strikers win you matches, defenders win you Leagues – or so the saying is supposed to go.

If that does indeed ring true then one of many men Kidderminster Harriers had to thank for their Nationwide Conference title win in 1999 was defender Ian Clarkson.

Joining the club in November 1999, Clarkson was thrust into the action away at Telford after just 13 minutes – replacing Steve Pope. Goals from Dean Bennett and Steve Hadley weren’t enough for the boys on that day as they went down 3-2, but Clarkson’s impact was immediate if understated.

His full debut soon after saw Harriers keep a clean sheet in a 5-0 home romping of Southport was a little more successful as Mark Druce bagged a hat-trick. From here on in, Harriers were virtually unbeatable. Just one solitary League defeat – away at Kettering – dented their march towards the title between November and the following April, when Woking downed them on the day they were crowned Champions.

Clarkson went onto play the fullest of parts in Harriers first League season, a pattern of regularity that he in actual fact perpetuated for his entire Aggborough career since that afternoon in Telford; 119 appearances in total over two and a half years – no mean feat.

Whilst it’s for this he’ll mostly be remembered at Aggborough, his signing was something of a coup initially given that the defender was former Birmingham City Captain. Including his junior years, he spent six years at St. Andrews, making 136 first-team appearances. He followed that up with similar spells at Stoke and Northampton, a career boasting more than its fair share of promotions.

A former Kidderminster team Captain and indeed Assistant Caretaker Manager prior to his 2002 release, Clarkson went on to feature in the non-league scene for Nuneaton, Stafford, Leamington and Forest Green before finally swapping his boots for a pen and a career in journalism (save for a short return in 2012 with Alvechurch).

He then went back to his roots to do work with the local community – a role he admitted he truly relishes. Speaking to the Guardian in 2010, he admitted that commenting on football for a living after being handsomely paid on the other side of the white line was still a privilege, but added: “It didn’t always seem like it when you got back from a night match in Sunderland at three in the morning, and then had to get up for a meaningless press conference.

“What I’m doing now seems much more real. As a society, we’ve got away from things that matter. So I believe in what I’m doing here. It’s as though I’ve found my vocation.”

It seems now that Clarkson is merely happy to be making the truest of difference in areas where it’s most needed. The game of football may not perhaps be worthy by comparison, but it’s no doubt that his contribution to Kidderminster Harriers will not be soon forgotten.

This article is about: Alumni


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