Mens Team

City DNA #119: Three successive matches in three different divisions

Roy Clarke holds one of football’s most bizarre records.

In fact, his achievement is likely to never be repeated…

So what did the 22-year-old Welsh winger - who played 349 times for City  and scored 73 goals - actually do?

It needed a bizarre set of circumstances, but that’s what happened, and it guaranteed Clarke a place in pub quizzes for eternity.

Clarke was celebrating promotion with Cardiff City in the Third Division in May 1947.


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The Bluebirds had gone up with games to spare, so when Second Division champions Manchester City offered £12,000 for Clarke’s services, Cardiff were happy to accept and let the player move to England before completing their season.

City, meanwhile, had won the second-tier title and been promoted with Burnley, also with games to spare.

As the Second Division season had lasted a record length and City still had a fixture to play on June 14 against Welsh side Newport County – ironically, Clarke’s hometown club – and he made his debut in a 5-1 win over The Exiles at Maine Road.

That was City’s last game of the 1946/47 campaign and meant that Clarke had now played two successive games in different divisions – one for Cardiff in the third tier and one for City in the second, which isn’t unheard of at all.

But Clarke’s third game would also be City’s first match of the 1947/48 season and, of course, having won promotion back to the First Division, it meant that his last three games  - the final appearance for Cardiff and first two for City - had been played in the third, second and first divisions of English football.

He celebrated the feat in that third game with his first City goal against Wolves in a 4-3 victory at Maine Road.

Capped 22 times by Wales, Clarke would go on to enjoy 11 years with City, and though injury denied him a place in the 1955 FA Cup final, he was an integral part of the team that returned a year later to win the trophy in the famous ‘Trautmann Final’ against Birmingham.

In 1958, a 33 year-old Clarke joined Stockport County, but would return his beloved Maine Road to run the successful City Social Club in 1966, situated on the corner of Maine Road and Claremont Road for many years with his wife Kath.

In fact, he would remain as manager of the City Social Club for 25 years, also finding time to co-found the Former Players Association with Paddy Fagan and Roy Little – an association that is still running strong to this day.

So, next time you get asked to come up with a City brainteaser, think of Roy Clarke and his unique and fascinating three games in three divisions feat.

A great player and a fantastic servant for Manchester City FC.

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