Frank Clark still remembers his thoughts on the flight home from Budapest, which won the Fairs Cup in 1969 after being part of the Newcastle side.
The Magpies defeated Hungarian side Ujpest Dojsa and Clark said: “I honestly thought the victory was just the beginning.
“The manager, Joe Harvey, did a really good side and I was confident there would be a few more winners’ medals on the way.”
Well, at least Clark was half right!
There will be personal glory for him in the years to come – but not with Newcastle.
Controversially handed a free transfer by the Toon Board in 1975 after 13 years at St James’s Park, full-back Clarke was rescued by Nottingham Forest boss Brian Clough and enjoyed a stellar finish to a distinguished career. took.
In four years at City Ground, he won one Football League title, two League Cups and, most famously, was in the Forest side, which won the 1979 European Cup with a 1–0 win over Malmö.
Of the team, which defeated Ujpest Dozsa 6–2 on aggregate, Clarke was the only player to win further major honours.
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Still, he never imagined that, 52 years later, Newcastle would still be waiting to add to that particular feat.
The Durham-born Clark made nearly 400 appearances for his home-town club – and insists he has black and white running through his veins.
And the former Forest, Leyton Orient and Manchester City manager said: “I would have laughed if someone had said in 1969 that the Fairs Cup would be the last piece of silverware that we would win.
“Joe Harvey used the profits of that cup run to buy Jimmy Smith for £100,000.
“He was a tremendously talented Scot who he felt would add quality to our midfield.
It’s Another Exciting New Era – Although It Won’t Be As Simple As Some Fans Might Think
“Now Jinky was a great talent but the team had to change their style to accommodate him and we couldn’t kick enough.
“Then a year or two later, Malcolm MacDonald, John Tudor and Terry Hibbit arrived and although we reached the 1974 FA Cup Final, the less said about that day, the better!”
They lost that game 3–0 to Liverpool but Newcastle flirted with success under the leadership of Kevin Keegan in the mid-90s and reached successive cup finals in 1998 and 1999.
But now after a Saudi takeover of just £306 million, Geordie’s is being touted as the serial winners once again.
Clarke said: “When you look at what the billionaires have done for Manchester City and Chelsea, it’s not unreasonable to think Newcastle will be next.
“Sir John Hall changed the club 30 years ago but he didn’t have the kind of money we’re talking about now.
“This is another exciting new era – although it won’t be as easy as some fans might think.
“You can’t just flick a switch. There needs to be a lot of investment not just in terms of players, but the entire club.
“It will take time for Newcastle to compete with the elite but there is hope at least for now, a commodity that has been in very short supply until recently.
It is a wonderful feeling to be recognized as the best team in the country by winning the league
“Maybe it is now a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ Newcastle wins something, but I just urge supporters to enjoy the trip.
“And when it does eventually happen, the wrath of bliss will be quite unbelievable.
“It will provide such a boost not only for the fan base but for the region as a whole.”
Clark speaks from the experience after the Forest’s adventures under Claw but is reluctant to make comparisons between then and now.
He said: “When Leicester won the Premier League, everyone was asking if it was a big achievement when we won the league under Clogie.
“But I refused to draw. I don’t like things like that. Every title should be enjoyed without comparing it to another club’s big day.
You can’t just flick a switch. The whole club requires a lot of investment
“However, I will tell you something. When you go on to win the biggest honor in club football, it is a wonderful feeling to be recognized as the best team in the country by winning the league and as the best team in Europe.”
Clarke’s greatest days as a footballer came in his mid-thirties and now, at the age of 78, he is hoping there will be a few more highlights to enjoy as a fan.
Clarke, who had been well known years earlier for his musicianship as his defense, said: “I was fortunate to have success as a player and also had some good times as a forest manager.
“At my age, it would be nice to sit back and watch the club where it all started for me, do something similar.
“I’ve never been one to write my own songs, but when the day comes, I’ll be tempted to pull out the guitar and blast The Bladen Race!”
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