Tragic tale from football field after player died from injury

Bentham Wanderers in 1923-24 photographed at Ford Ayrton (Rose Gardens)'Back Row: Tom Slater, Rubin Wilcock, Tom Adamthwaite, Billy Oldfield, Bill Harrison, Charles (Charlie) Clarke, John Bush'Middle Row: Lionel Shackleton, Billy O'Neil, Ernie Redfearn, George Lister, Edgar Lister'Front: George Burrow, E. Downham
Bentham Wanderers in 1923-24 photographed at Ford Ayrton (Rose Gardens)'Back Row: Tom Slater, Rubin Wilcock, Tom Adamthwaite, Billy Oldfield, Bill Harrison, Charles (Charlie) Clarke, John Bush'Middle Row: Lionel Shackleton, Billy O'Neil, Ernie Redfearn, George Lister, Edgar Lister'Front: George Burrow, E. Downham
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A brave Bentham lad - by Terry Ainsworth, sponsore by Vincenzo’s coffee shop

Charles (Charlie) Clarke was born in Bentham on June 5 1908 and played for Bentham Wanderers when they won Division II of the North Lancs League in season 1923-24.

Morecambe 1927-28'Back Row: H. Gorst (trainer), A. Holt (chairman), William Greatorex, Charlie Clarke, Whipp, Edmund Eastwood, Mr Bland (director), Richard Carlisle (captain), Swain (linesman)'Front Row: Richard Woodhouse, Thomson, Iddon, English, Threlfall, Farnworth

Morecambe 1927-28'Back Row: H. Gorst (trainer), A. Holt (chairman), William Greatorex, Charlie Clarke, Whipp, Edmund Eastwood, Mr Bland (director), Richard Carlisle (captain), Swain (linesman)'Front Row: Richard Woodhouse, Thomson, Iddon, English, Threlfall, Farnworth

At the end of that season in April 1924 he had a trial for Morecambe while still only 15 years old.

All the statistics appended here are courtesy of Lawrence Bland, meticulously recorded and preserved by this fine historian.

Morecambe 1924-25 - 1 league & 1 FA Cup, 1 Lancashire Junior Cup, 3 Combination Cup & 1 JT Charity Cup-[final]) appearances.

Morecambe 1925-26 - 7 league & 2 Lancashire Junior Cup (SF) appearances, Morecambe 1926-27 - 7 League & 4 Combination Cup (winners) appearances.

Morecambe 1927-28 - 34 League, 3 FA Cup, 2 Lancashire Junior Cup & 5 Combination Cup (final) appearances.

At the present time I have put forward a suggestion to the Morecambe FC board of directors to commemorate Charlie’s memory at the Globe Arena as well as former director John Charles Drake who died tragically in 1927 in a storm at Christie Park.

At the ripe old age of 20 Charlie moved to Barrow who played in the Third Division (North) of the Football League in August 1928.

Barrow (Third Division North) 1928-29 - 32 League & 1 Lancashire Senior Cup appearances.

Barrow 1929-30 (Third Division North) - 8 League & 1 Lancashire Senior Cup appearances.

Ingleton United 1930-31 – North Lancashire League Division I Champions.

Charlie re-joined Morecambe in August 1931.

Morecambe 1931-32 - 36 League, 1 FA Cup, 2 Lancashire Junior Cup & 1 Combination Cup appearances,

Morecambe 1932-33 - 7 League, 2 FA Cup & 1 Combination Cup appearances.

At the Morecambe Football Club annual meeting on Thursday June 29 1933, chairman Mr W. Curwen expressed regret at the serious illness of Charlie Clarke, the club’s goalkeeper, who was again in hospital.

“It has been a very trying time,” he continued, “and we are grieved to know that Clarke is not making the progress we hoped. I am sure I am voicing the expression of not only followers of football but of all concerned when I express a hope for his speedy recovery.”

Charlie died five hours later.

Headlines and report from the Visitor newspaper, following the player’s death, read:

A TRAGEDY FROM THE FOOTBALL FIELD

CHARLIE CLARKE SUCCUMBS TO HIS INJURIES

HIS BRAVE FIGHT FOR LIFE AGAINST GREAT ODDS

“He had suffered a severe internal injury when playing for Morecambe against Dick, Kerr’s at Christie Park on January 7 1933.

On that occasion during a goalmouth struggle, he accidently received a severe kick in the back, necessitating his removal to hospital, where he lay at death’s door for many days.

Examination revealed that his remaining kidney had become infected the same as the one which had been previously removed and gradually this remaining kidney ceased to function with the inevitable result – death.

Charlie fought a wonderful battle for his life against the most excruciating pain but in the end it proved too much for him.

A native of Bentham, where he worked as a labourer, Charlie joined Morecambe FC ten years ago and throughout his career with the club he has always been a thorough sportsman and his unassuming ways have made him a favourite with supporters of the club.

Unlike so many professional footballers today, he did not play the game just for what he could get out of it.

His loyalty to Morecambe may be realised from the fact that last season, when the club was in financial difficulties, he consented to accept the lowest possible terms a professional footballer could have.

The funeral at Bentham on Sunday afternoon was attended by representatives of Morecambe FC, Lancaster Town FC and 
Dick, Kerr’s FC as well as players and officials of junior clubs.

* An inquest was held into Charlie’s death and a 
verdict of accidental death recorded after the coroner REJECTED a suggestion that the player’s death was due not to the injury but to a diseased kidney.”