Played as a centre-half for all his Spurs career, but Harry Clarke enjoyed the physical nature of the game that being in that position brought enjoying eight and a half years in the first team during his 10 years with the club.
Harry's career started with Woodford Schools and he went into work on leaving school in a shipping company and working for the GNER as an engine fireman before he went into the RAF for five years during war-time, of which three years was spent in the West Indies, without a football team to play for. While playing for the Station XI and Command XI in Wiltshire on his return to England, he was spotted by Lovell's Athletic - a works team for the sweet company based in Newport, Gwent. Initially signing as an amateur and working in the company's factory, he signed as a professional in August 1945, winning Welsh League championship and Welsh Cup medals with the club. Clarke won a Welsh Cup with the club, before he was scouted by Spurs' man in Wales and brought back to London in a £4,250 deal in March 1949.
His consistency was a notable feature of his play and the was the first two campaigns he took part in that brought the biggest successes of his career. Clarke signed in March 1949 and was immediately handed a first team place, staying in the side until the end of the season. His part in keeping things tight at the back was instrumental in the Spurs side's “push and run” style taking the Second Division title in 1949-50.
During that championship season, Harry played in every game in cup and league and he repeated the feat the following season as Spurs ran through the First Division to storm to the title with Arthur Rowe's team ruling supreme.
At the heart of the defence, Clarke provided a calming presence, with his excellent reading of the game allowing him to anticipate the play and pick the ball off before it reached it's intended recipient. His height and long legs helped in this and also gave an air of casualness, but he was strong in the air and good on the ground with the ball, making him a formidable defender. His willingness to learn new skills and applications helped him improve as a player and later were used in his coaching career. All theses attributes contributed to gaining him the role of captain later in his Spurs career.
Harry suffered an injury that ruled him out of the start of the 1951-52 season, but was soon back to regain his position in the side. His form was good enough to win him an England cap in the spring of 1954 at the age of 31, but he was not called upon again.
His presence made him a player's player and hew as captain a couple of times in the 1955-56 campaign, with a vote in the summer after that season handing him the honour on a regular basis until he finished his first team playing days in December 1956. Harry stayed on for three years playing reserve football and coaching the young players at the club.
In December 1959, he had an offer from Llanelli to take over as player-manager at the Welsh club - a post he held for three years before coming back South to Romford, where he was manager when they won the Southern League in 1966-67. Having served the Essex club for 13 years, Harry went into the security business.
Having suffered ill health and moving into a nursing home in Upminster, Essex, Harry Clarke died on 16th April 2000.