Gerry Clarke was a prominent local player from his school days, and made it to the final trial for the English Schools' XI in 1951. After three years in one of Sheffield United's nursery sides, he joined Chesterfield as an amateur in 1954, making his first-team debut on Thursday, April 21st., 1955, during a week in which he played for the "A" team on Monday and the reserves on Tuesday. He graduated to the semi-pro ranks in 1956 and did not turn fully professional until 1962. By this time he had made more than 180 League appearances, as a full-back or wing-half. Until turning professional, he worked for the N.C.B. at Markham Colliery. He became a cornerstone of Chesterfield's side through a long and distinguished playing career that spanned eleven years: apart from his yeoman service in defence, he also took over from an injured 'keeper five times, without being beaten!
During the Easter school holidays in 1966, he ran a coaching scheme for local kids and the direction of his post-playing career became clear. When Jim Smallwood became groundsman in November, 1967, Clarke took his place as Trainer pro temps, and was confirmed as First Team Trainer the following summer. Joe Shaw's appointment as Manager in July 1973 brought another promotion - to the position of `Deputy Manager/Coach'. Gerry held this position for a year before taking everyone by surprise and resigning, to join Brian Clough and Peter Taylor as Chief Coach at Brighton. His decision was understandable: he had, apparently, been working without a contract at Chesterfield, and Brighton offered to double his wages. The next surprise was Gerry's: he came in for his second day of work at the Goldstone Ground to find that Cloughie had quit!
Gerry stayed only a few months on the south coast. He resigned in November, 1974, having been unable to settle in his first job away from his home town. He came back with a different outlook, too: "I've learned," he said, "that there's more to life than money." He returned to Chesterfield as Chief Scout and Trainer to the reserves.
In July 1976, Gerry returned from a family holiday in Bude to find out, in a three-minute interview with Joe Shaw, that he'd been sacked. Within a day, he was appointed to the coaching staff at Mansfield, who obviously recognised the value of a man who had been on no fewer than sixteen coaching courses at Lillieshall. Reunited with Ernie Moss and Kevin Randall, Mansfield won the Division Three championship in his first season and, in all, he stayed three seasons at Field Mill, leaving only after Manager Billy Bingham had been sacked. In 1979 he began helping David Pleat by scouting for Luton Town while working for Hubbard Print, in Dronfield. Although his full-time football career had drawn to a close he kept up an involvement in the part-time game, with such clubs as Staveley Works, and played cricket regularly to a good standard. These occupations stopped abruptly in 1993 when Gerry underwent a quadruple heart bypass operation. Happily Gerry recovered fully and became a keen but occasional golfer.
The wider Clarke family continues an active association with Chesterfield Football Club; Gerry's son in law Mark Mullins was an apprentice at the club and currently serves as physio to the youth team, while Mark's son (and Gerry's grandson) is a member of the club's Centre of Excellence.
For Chesterfield: 382 league appearances, 21 goals.