Matt Clarke started out as a youth player at Wolverhampton Wanderers, and then after joining Kidderminster Harriers. He signed for Hereford United in November 1998.

Matt told us “Ron Jukes had spotted me playing football when i was 15/16. I went to Wolves under Graham Turner, so knew of them when i signed for Hereford”

Injuries though had put the brakes on Clarke’s career and moving to Edgar Street was a fresh start “Graham Turner was the best manager I have ever had, I respected him so much. I wasn’t easy to manage, and we had a few run ins, but he had an aura about him. Sometimes Graham didn’t take the training sessions, but the minute he appeared the intensity across the players must have trebled”

“My debut was at home to Doncaster Rovers and we won 1-0, we had a good team, it was unbelievable that there were no play offs back then. During my 5 years at Edgar Street the team would get better each season, but would hover around the 3rd/4th position and would fall away.

During the 1999/2000 season Hereford went on a FA Cup run where they were defeated by Premier League Leicester City in a 3rd round replay. Clarke was part of the team that knocked Football League side York City in the 1st round, but had to make do with a place on the bench during the 2nd round tie with Hartlepool and the Leicester ties.

A low point came in the spring of 2001 when Hereford were defeated over two legs on aggregate 6-3 in the FA Trophy Semi Final by Forest Green. The 1st leg at the Lawn saw Hereford draw 2-2 with their local rivals, and most thought the hard work had been done.

“That was without any shadow of a doubt the biggest disappointment of my career. I loved my time at Hereford, and it would have been the icing on the cake to have reached a cup final. We didn’t underestimate them at Edgar Street, but on the day we choked, it really affected me that we lost that afternoon”

After finishing a disappointing 17th in the 2001/2002 season. Richard O’Kelly joined Hereford United as assistant to Graham Turner. “He was a real breath of fresh air. He was enthusiastic, and had great knowledge, and it was no surprise whatsoever that he’s gone on to bigger and better things, he was outstanding”

In the 2002/2003 season Hereford reached the 1st round of the FA Cup. They were defeated 1-0 by Wigan Athletic at Edgar Street. Clarke had a goal controversially ruled out for offside.

Hereford ended up finishing 6th, just one place of the play offs. Clarke got on the scoresheet in a 2-0 win over Kettering towards the latter part of the season.

After five seasons at Edgar Street it was time to move on “I had such a good rapport with the fans, and the likes of Tony James, Michael Rose, and Paul Parry. I was 29, and been offered a new contract, me and Graham Turner sat down and we both asked the question, would it be season to long, I didn’t want to outstay my welcome.

I met Nigel Clough at Burton Albion, and was impressed, and actually shook hands on a deal, but Andy Shaw the Telford chairman called me, he came to my house, and the deal he offered me I couldn’t turn down. It didn’t quite work out at Telford as they ended up going bust.

It was a massive regret leaving Hereford, but they replaced me with a superb player in Ryan Green, and I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight”

Matt returned to Edgar Street in May 2019 for Rob Purdie’s testimonial ” Rob was a great lad, a young chap from Leicester. It was a great day being reunited with former colleagues again”

Matt had previously been the manager of Halesowen, and after a short break is the current man at the helm of Redditch United, where his assistant is former Hereford coach Richard Sneekes.