Club photographer Damon Campion recently visited the South Yorkshire home of 25-year-old defender Jordan Clarke, where he resides with his girlfriend Chloe, to chat to the right-back about his life away from football.
Were you born in Coventry itself, or the surrounding areas?
JC: I was brought up in a place called Coundon, which is five or ten minutes from the city centre. My mum and dad used to live next door to Highfield Road, the old Coventry City stadium. My brother grew up there and then they moved to Coundon, which is an area of Coventry. It was a nice place to grow up in, and I went to a school called Hollyfast Primary School, which was three minutes up to the road. Behind that was my secondary school, Coundon Court. It was easy to walk there and walk back, and all my friends were in and around the area.
Did you spend every night playing football after school?
JC: There was a place behind my mum and dad’s house called Brackley, and it’s just a big circular field with a circle of bushes in the middle. We just used to climb trees there and have ‘stone wars’, which were stupid. One hit me on the top of my head once. My brother had to take me back to my mum and dad’s house and explain why I was bleeding! There was a tree there with three separate tiers of branches. An easy one, a middle one and the highest one at the top. If you swung off the top one you were ‘the boy’. I managed all of them, haha!
Are you still in touch with childhood friends now?
JC: Though I’m not really in contact with people from primary school, when I see them I’ll speak to them. It’s mainly secondary school people that I’m in touch with, such as my best mate from school and a few other people who were my age from different schools. I knew them through the academy at Coventry City.
Did your school ever have a reunion?
JC: We haven’t actually. I’ve been to a couple of parties where it’s pretty much the whole of our year but that was two or three years ago. Do you have any brothers or sisters? JC: I have one older brother, who is 26. He’s three school years older than me but was one of the youngest in his year. He was a good footballer but stopped playing.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
JC: I walk my dog now and again with Chloe, but mainly she will do that. If she’s working and I’m not here, we schedule a dog walker who comes out and takes him around for a while. It’s good that he’s little and doesn’t need walking far. Whereas if he was a big dog we’d take him out at least twice. I enjoy playing on my PlayStation and played on it for the first time in ages the other day. It was Call of Duty and I was so bad! It’s lack of practice.
Are you a TV and film fan?
JC: I watch TV all day. Looking at my planner right now, I missed a programme called ‘Are You the One?’ the other night, which started on MTV. At the minute I like First Dates Hotel, Match of the Day and football, Ibiza Weekender, UFC, Big Brother when it’s on and I like nature programmes as well actually.
Do you like travel?
JC: I love going on holiday but I don’t think I’ve been to that many places. When I was younger, my family went to Jamaica and it’s where my mum and dad got married. My dad is originally from there. He had four brothers and two sisters, and they all came over. I’ve been to places like Tunisia (but probably wouldn’t go back), Florida, Malia two years in a row, Marbella, Cancun, Greece, Egypt and Las Vegas amongst others.
Are you a music fan at all?
JC: I like R’n’B, hip hop and some pop music as well. It doesn’t matter what the genre is, if I like the sound of it I’ll like it. I don’t like rock music or heavy metal though. I like music that keeps me interested when I’m exercising or at the gym.
Are you going to see Drake on his tour?
JC: I’ve seen him a couple of times before but I’m not going to go this time. To be honest, I don’t really like being in huge crowds and I don’t want to pay over the odds to sit somewhere separate. The last person I went to see was Kevin Hart, the comedian. I saw him in Manchester with Chloe and he was really funny. There were thousands of people there but it was well organized, we got in the right area, went to our seats and it was fine.
Do you like any other sports?
JC: I used to play cricket for my local side and I also played for my dad’s team as far as back as I can remember. My dad’s a big cricket fan. I played for Warwickshire at one point and could have continued doing that but I just enjoyed football more. I loved rugby in secondary school and started off playing fly-half before moving to centre. My school coach at the time was a former England youth and he said ‘if football doesn’t work out, I’ll get you into rugby’.
Are you an American sports fan?
JC: I watched the Super Bowl the other night but fell asleep at half-time. I had to watch the highlights the next day in the end. I like basketball when it’s the top teams. Other than that, I mainly watch UFC. Duane Holmes and I always talk about it.
How was school for you?
JC: It was alright. I had troublemaker friends but at the same time I was quite academic and very sporty as well. I was decent at each subject. When it came to secondary school, I had a tutor at one point for maths but still ended up getting a C. I was only in school three days a week because of the football. If football didn’t work out, I’d have gone into something related to sport. Physiotherapy always interested me but a lot of time, effort and work needed to go into that. At the time though I was so focused on my football.
On to football then, who was your role model?
JC: I used to watch my dad play for a team in Coventry, and three of his brothers used to play as well. My dad had trials for Coventry when he was younger but his dad didn’t let him go, so he missed out on the chance. When it comes to professional football, I first started watching Paul Ince. I used to love how Ince smashed people all the time, and was also really good at the skillful side. I used to play in central midfield when I was younger, and then I moved to right midfield, then to attack. Then there was a game where our right-back got injured, I played there and stayed there ever since.
How old were you when you started playing for Coventry?
JC: I was eight-years-old, and stayed there for 15/16 years until I joined Scunthorpe. I became a pro at 17. It was good because it was local and the majority of my friends in the team were from Coventry. It was annoying when they left though. I didn’t have to travel far, Coventry were a big club and doing well, and it was a good time to be there. It was great to be recognised by a club of that stature.
Then you got into the first team in 2008.
JC: I was on the bench when I was 16 against Newcastle and I was excited yet so nervous. It was at the Ricoh Arena. Michael Owen, James Milner and others played. I carried on playing for the youth team and halfway through the season when I was 17 they let me train with the first team for a couple of sessions. I held my own and was physically capable so they offered me a contract, which me, my mum and dad were buzzing about. Me, Callum Wilson and Cyrus Christie were in the gym from 16 building our strength up.
It must have been a proud moment for your dad.
JC: He used to take me to every training session, and each home and away game. He still comes to see me now too. You made an appearance for England as well. JC: I played for the Under-19s and Under-20s. My first match was against Russia at Shrewsbury and we won that game. I then played a few more games, against France, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and I played against Turkey at Glanford Park. One of my friends is a year younger than me and was in the youth team at Scunny at the time. It was surreal because I was in and around Premier League players like Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason and Steven Caulker. It was a good experience but I didn’t feel out of place and I played well.
Have you got your caps?
JC: I have, for all the games I played. When we played Slovenia away, me and one of my Coventry team-mates were selected for the Under-20 World Cup but the Coventry manager said no. That would have been good but I’ve got the caps, shirts, training kit and jacket.
Did you get any shirts when you played for Scunthorpe at Chelsea?
JC: Yeah, I got Pedro’s. I asked him on the pitch actually if I could swap shirts after. He said that was fine and he’d see me after the game. I was sat in the changing room, the gaffer was talking, Pedro just walked in and looked for me, passed me the shirt and said ‘well played’. I was buzzing after that.
Do you keep programmes?
JC: My mum had a really thick scrapbook at home but she hasn’t finished filling it yet. There are pictures from the academy when I was eight all the way up to now. There are academy reports too.
Later on, you can show your kids and grandkids can’t you.
JC: It’s good. I’ve got Gareth Bale’s shirt too from when Coventry played Spurs.
How are you in the dressing room before a game?
JC: I’m just chilled out. It’s the way I am. I’ll get involved with conversations if any are going on but I like to just get ready. I’ve always been like that. Generally, I’ll just banter Charlie Goode!
Do you sleep well the night before?
JC: I’m not a very good sleeper as it is, but I don’t get nervous.
Do you have any superstitions at all?
JC: I used to always put my shinpads on before the warm-up and used to always just wear white socks in the warm-up but I then changed that to shinpads. I did that until last season. Now I don’t really have any though.
What’s your pre-match meal?
JC: Recently it’s been scrambled egg, beans, pasta and either fish or chicken. It’s not a very nice mix but it works. If it’s an early game, I’ll just have scrambled eggs and a lot of beans.
Do you cook at home?
JC: I’m a decent cook actually, if I have to cook. I watched my mum and dad cook a lot growing up. My dad has taught Chloe how to cook Jamaican food. I cook mutton, stuff like that. I had a certain kind of soup with dumplings, sweet potatoes, meat and a load of stuff in it the other night actually.
I appreciate you’re only 25, but would you ever want to play abroad?
JC: I’d love to one day, because of the weather. I wouldn’t go to China though. America would be great, as would Canada. I have a few friends who have played in those two countries. It’s a great lifestyle and different, plus it’s the same language too. I just want to play good, competitive football.
You were at Coventry from an early age but stayed there for a long time, how does it feel being away from there?
JC: I was lucky to play at Coventry and go all the way there but it’s fine. When I went to Yeovil on loan, it was quiet compared to where I was from. Here, none of my friends and family from home are around, but a lot of the Scunny lads are here and Coventry isn’t too far away on the motorway.
What about life after football?
JC: I haven’t thought too much about it. I see specific jobs and careers on TV though and think I’d like to do that. I haven’t pinpointed a specific one. Coaching definitely appeals eventually. I’d look to do my badges. I know the game and have seen a lot of things people who don’t play football might not see, so it’s a decent option for me. I’d like to open my own business but, at the same time, you need to know certain people. At the minute, coaching appeals. Being a personal trainer is a role that appeals too.