It is with great sadness that Warrington Wolves learned of the passing of former hooker Gordon Clarke on 26 December 2018 at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Ruthin aged 82 years.
Warrington-born Clarke was playing Rugby League in the Warrington amateur league when he got the opportunity to trial with Barrow in August 1957. Barrow had a hooking crisis as Maurice Redhead had joined the Merchant Navy and veteran Vince McKeating had retired. So a young hopeful Clarke was trialled in August 1957.
The trial was a success and he signed professional terms with Barrow, making his official debut on 22 August 1957 at home to Oldham.
Shortly afterwards Barrow paid St Helens £750 for Len McIntyre, who later became a Great Britain international. McIntyre actually finished his long and distinguished career at Warrington.
Consequently Clarke found himself in the Barrow ‘A’ team. The last of his five appearances for Barrow was on 28 December 1957 away at Liverpool City.
Warrington who were also suffering from a problem at hooker signed Clarke on 10 January 1958. He made his debut the following day when Swinton were beaten 32-6 at Wilderspool. He played again the following week when Warrington suffered a disappointing 17-12 defeat at York.
Clarke lost his place in the Warrington team when the Wire induced veteran Widnes hooker Jack Hayes to come out of retirement in their quest for more possession from the scrums.
Clarke played once more for the Wire, on 23 August 1958, when Warrington beat Keighley 20-16 at Wilderspool. Namesake Derek ‘Nobby’ Clarke was one of the try scorers that day along with Brian Bevan (2) and Laurie Gilfedder.
Clarke, whose Warrington Heritage Number is 588, played three matches for the club.
In 1962 he moved to live and work in North Wales, which is where he died on Boxing Day.
Clarke served as a Lancashire Fusilier while completing his National Service.
He came from a large family, he had four sisters and three brothers. All four of the brothers played Rugby League professionally. They were all hookers, Jim played for Huddersfield and was later a referee, Doug played for Leigh and Warrington and Peter had a long and distinguished career at Rochdale Hornets.
Warrington Wolves send their condolences to his wife, Freda, son Gareth and the rest of his family. The funeral is on Friday 18 January at Llangynhafal Parish Church at 11am.