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Interviews

Catching Up: Phil Clarkson

8 June 2018

Earlier in the season, we spoke to former Iron and Blackpool midfielder Phil Clarkson for our matchday programme.

The now-49-year-old arrived at Glanford Park – initially on loan – in 1995 before making that move permanent a year later. He’d later leave the club after just one season to Blackpool, where he remained for five years.

ON HIS TIME AT THE IRON…

Crewe Alexandra paid £22,500 for Clarkson’s services in October 1991, when his affiliation with Fleetwood Town came to an end. The midfielder would go on to make a favourable impression there, scoring on 30 occasions in 122 appearances for the club over a five-year period.

In October 1995, he first joined Scunthorpe on loan, making the switch until the start of 1996. He’d make a total of four league starts for the club, scoring on one occasion. That spell would be made permanent in the days that followed the end of his loan in February as his time with the Railwaymen came to an end.

The Hambleton-born midfielder’s permanent stint at Glanford Park would last just short of a calendar year, where he totalled 45 league starts and three substitute appearances, scoring an impressive 18 goals along the way. He’d also chip in with a further three goals in cup competitions, in six appearances.

Reflecting on his time with the club 20 years on, he said: “It was a very enjoyable period of my career at Scunthorpe. I’d like to think I did okay there, scoring a few goals and playing a number of games. I enjoyed it thoroughly, it’s a good little club with a good atmosphere.

“It was the first time I’d been at a club away from my local area of Lancashire, so it was a different experience for me and there was quite a lot of travelling. There were three or four of us that travelled over from that area together. Coming over from the Manchester area was Alan Knill, Mark Sertori and a few more, including myself. I’d meet them at Bury and travel in.

“I came in on loan initially and I never thought that would become a permanent deal, but football is like that to be honest. I’d been out injured for quite a while at Crewe and I’d gone down the order a little bit. The chance presented itself to come to Scunthorpe and I wanted to come and play some games. It ended up working out quite well for both parties really.

“I got quite a lot of games during my time at Scunthorpe and it was just enjoyable scoring goals and playing games.”

MOVING ON TO BLACKPOOL AND BEING INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME…

Clarkson had been something of a revelation in his 12-month stint at the club, with his 21 goals in just over one campaign sparking interest from other suitors in February 1997.

The option of being lured back to his hometown club Blackpool would have raised his personal interest – and the fact that an £80,000 offer was put on the table for the Iron made his move away from Glanford Park a reality.

The switch would begin his successful affiliation with the club, which saw him play for them for just over five years, while his legacy will remain at Bloomfield Road in the Hall of Fame.

He said: “They first told me that Notts County had come in for me – Sam Allardyce was their manager at the time. I spoke to them and then I got told that Blackpool were interested and obviously being from there, it was always going to be a pulling factor.

“It was great, I’ve always lived around this area and I know a lot of people here that support Blackpool, so it was nice to play for them.”

Clarkson and Blackpool achieved promotion from the Third Division in 2000-01 via the play-offs following a seventh-placed finish. The Tangerines had beaten Hartlepool United 5-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals to reach the final, with the side winning 4-2 in the final against Leyton Orient.

The midfielder was inducted into the Hall of Fame in April 2006 when it was officially opened by former player Jimmy Armfield. Organised by the Blackpool Supporters Association, five players were voted in for each decade, with Clarkson successful for the 1990’s.

“I don’t know how I managed that really, but it’s nice to be thought of in that regard following my time there,” he continued.

“It’s nice to see people around and about that still remember me and recognise me because it’s quite a few years now – time flies. The highlight of my career has to be the play-off success. It was when Wembley was being rebuilt, so we played at the Millennium Stadium (the first season the play-offs were contested there following the demolition of Wembley). I can remember little things about the day and the game, and I remember going 1-0 down after a minute because our goalkeeper slipped, but we won it quite comfortably in the end.”

ON LIFE AFTER FOOTBALL…

Following the end of his playing career, Clarkson studied for his UEFA B coaching licence and was a coach within the Under-16s team at his hometown club of Blackpool within their Centre of Excellence.

His other occupation has seen him take a role within the Royal Mail as a postman. In terms of his footballing career though, Clarkson has gone full circle and now coaches in the academy at his first employers; Fleetwood Town.

With the Cod Army now a world away from the club they were in 1990 when he was there – and since undergoing their second reformation and their surge up the leagues – his mission is now to bring through new talent for the fellow League One side.

“I’ve been a postman for 13-14 years now. It was going to be a job where I saw how I got on and perhaps move onto something else, but I ended up staying there. I quite enjoy it, as jobs go,” he said.

“I do coach as well. I used to coach at Blackpool in the academy, but I’ve now moved onto Fleetwood Town in the academy. They’ve recently set up their academy in the last year or two. This season is our second season and I’m involved in that.

“It’s great to see the kids enjoying themselves and hopefully we can bring one or two through. Clubs like Scunthorpe, Blackpool and Fleetwood need to bring through their own players, so hopefully we can do that."


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