Brian Myton – a memorable debut for all the wrong reasons.

Malcolm Clarke and Brian Myton are a pair of pretty obscure footballers. They played in the late sixties and early seventies and if you Googled their names you would find very little about either of them (neither warrant an entry in Wikipedia). They came up against each other in a Cardiff City v Middlesbrough match in September 1968 at Ninian Park though which for one of them signalled the beginning of the end of his time at a club where his career had been developing very nicely and for the other gave him an unwanted, permanent, place in Football League record books.

If he was playing now, I daresay Malcolm Clarke would be described as a holding midfield player. He moved from his native Scotland to sign for Leicester City in 1965 at the age of 21, but was released by them two years later having just made the one substitutes appearance in the first team. Jimmy Scoular brought him to Cardiff and, within a month of the 1967/68 season starting, Clarke made his City debut and had soon established himself in the side. That season was, without doubt, the high spot of Clarke’s career – he featured in fifty one matches, starting forty nine of them, and played a prominent part in the amazing run to the Semi Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup where he was a starter in eight out of the nine games City played in the competition that year.

Injury kept Clarke out of the first two matches of the 1968/69 season which began disastrously with 4-0 and 1-0 home defeats by Crystal Palace and Charlton respectively and matters didn’t improve immediately when he got his place back for the trip to Norwich which left City at the bottom of the table without a point after a 3-1 loss. Things quickly got better after that low point though as a 3-3 draw at Bury was followed by wins over Preston, Birmingham and Portsmouth which meant that City went into the Middlesbrough match looking for a fourth consecutive league win for the first time since the 1960/61 promotion campaign.

My memory of Clarke is of a fit, hard working and hard tackling player who had some ability on the ball, while his five goals during the 67/68 campaign wasn’t a bad return at all considering that his role in the team was, mainly, a defensive one. With City going so well after an awful start which he had barely featured in, I would guess that Clarke’s stock at Cardiff was as high as at any time during the past year, which had seen his career take a significant step forward, but, sadly, it was to be downhill all of the way after his run in with Mr Myton.

The 1968/69 City squad - Malcolm Clarke is seated fifth from the left in the front row.

If Malcolm Clarke began the game as a first team regular, the same certainly didn’t apply to Brian Myton a teenage left back from York who was making his league debut in a Middlesbrough team that was establishing itself as one of the old Second Division’s stronger outfits around that time. If Myton had been told beforehand that he would end up doing something that no one else had done on a first appearance before, I should think he would have looked on that as positive news – in fact it was anything but.

An unremarkable match was going nowhere at 0-0 when, as I remember it, Myton fouled Clarke, the City player retaliated and suddenly the two players were trying to hit seven bells out of each other. Back in the days of Ron “Chopper” Harris and Norman “bites your legs” Hunter, it took a lot more for a referee to dismiss a player than it does now, but it was pretty obvious that Clarke and Myton were in for an early bath after what I would say only has the Don Murray/Jimmy McLaughlin episode in a City v Swansea Welsh Cup match a couple of years earlier to rival it as the biggest punch up between two players I have seen at a Cardiff game.

Myton had achieved the notoriety of becoming the first player to be sent off on debut in the Football League’s history (with the much less tolerant attitude of today’s officials, it is a fairly common occurrence these days with Lee Hendrie, probably, being the most high profile player to earn the dubious distinction), but, on the face of it, losing a raw teenager would have less of an effect on Middlesbrough than the loss of a regular starter would have on City. However, this did not prove to be the case as the team grew stronger and took command, finally going ahead late on when visiting centre half Bill Gates diverted a cross into his own net.

Brian Clark followed this up pretty quickly with a headed second and in the end, City earned a victory which did not look on when it was eleven against eleven. The 2-0 win lifted us up to sixth in the table and set up the first promotion challenge I had seen from a City side since I started following them five years earlier – a great run from late October to mid March saw us get as high as second with seven matches to play, but a return of just one win and two draws from these games saw us fade away to finish in what was still a creditable fifth place.

Malcolm Clarke played little or no part in our, relative, success though – he kept his place for the next match (a 3-0 loss at Huddersfield), but then had to serve a suspension which gave Mel Sutton a place in the team that he would not give up until he was, surprisingly, sold to Wrexham in 1972. Clarke played in just two more games for City (both of which were lost) and was given a free transfer the following summer when he made the short trip to Bristol City. He made just the three appearances for them though and, after a season at Hartlepool, left the game in 1971.

Mind you, Clarke’s career doesn’t sound that bad when compared to Myton’s because at least he had that one good season with us. Myton only tasted victory the once in his twelve appearances for Middlesbrough (against us as it turns out!) and, apparently, on the rare occasions he did play at Ayresome Park, news of his selection was greeted with an audible groan from the home support. After being released by Middlesbrough, there was a short spell at Southend for Myton before he dropped out of football to play for Kettering for a few seasons – I bet he keeps his grandkids entertained for hours with tales of his career in football!

7 September 1968

Cardiff City 2 (Gates O.G., Clark) Middlesbrough 0

City Davies; Coldrick, Murray, Harris, Derrett; Jones, Clarke, King Bell; Clark (1), Toshack; Sub (not used) Phillips

Middlesbrough Whigham, Smith Jones; Gates Rooks Myton; Kear McMordie Hickton Horsfield Lugg.

HT 0-0

Att. 14,225

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13 Responses to Brian Myton – a memorable debut for all the wrong reasons.

  1. Simon Nelson says:

    I remember Brian telling me this story when we worked together in the late 70s. He became a good friend, and being an avid Kettering fan it was a bit special to be mates with a boyhood hero.
    Brian still lives in Kettering with wife Anne, he was signed by Ron Atkinson and won 2 championship with the Poppies, then a top Non League side before going on to play for Irthlingborough Dimonds, later to become Rushden and Dimonds, before playing out with a few other UCL local clubs.
    I have lived in Torbay for 20 years now and the last time I spoke to Brian was at the Charlton V Kettering FAC 4th Round game in the late 80s.
    A true Gent, and still well thought of by the Kettering folk who remember his as there solid left Back, and do you know, I don’t think he was ever sent off in well over 200 games for the Town.

  2. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Hello Simon, I never thought I’d get a reply to that piece! I did know that Brian played a lot of games for Kettering, but thanks for coming up with some more detail on him.

    What you say about it being out of character for him doesn’t come as that much of a surprise because the Cardiff player involved, Malcolm Clarke, was a “competitive player” in the fullest sense of that term!

    That said, my recollection (which may contain a degree of exaggeration after all of these years) was that both players went at it hammer and tongs in the manner of the famous punch up from the 70’s between Francis Lee and Norman Hunter.


  3. Charlie Jones says:

    Malcolm Clarke was actually my grandad! He was always a hotheaded man, but came a long way from his extremely poor upbringing. He sadly died a few years ago, but he always had amazing stories about his footballing career. If you have any other stories then please get in touch with me!

  4. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Great to hear from you Charlie. You’ll see that I had a reply a few years ago from someone who knew Brian Myton very well.

    Sorry to hear about your grandfather – sadly, I cannot remember his passing receiving any coverage down here, although, I suppose, I may have missed it.

    I was only twelve at the time, so I don’t really have too many other recollections of Malcolm’s time with City – I do remember him being a regular in the team during a season (67/68) in which we began the transition from annual relegation candidates to one of the best teams in the Second Division though and have also found this, brief, biography of him on a City site I have access to;-

    “Another of Jimmy Scoular’s astute signings, this time from Leicester City’s reserve side. He was a tough tackling wing half with a good shot who was not afraid to get forward whenever the opportunity arose. Starting out at Scottish side Johnstone Burgh, he signed for Leicester City in July 1965 but just made the one League appearance there. He looked set for a long run with City, replacing Gareth Williams, and played a starring role in the run to the semi finals of the European Cup Winners Cup during the 1967-68 season. All was going well for him until he got suspended after being sent off in a match against Middlesbrough early in the 1968-69 season, and Mel Sutton won the role of midfield tackler from him. After moving on to Bristol City he just made 3 League appearances, and finally tried his luck at Hartlepool United between 1970-72 but left League Football after 33 further League appearances there”

    I’ve also added a story to the blog asking if any of the regulars who read it can help you – here it is

    it may be worth your while checking it over the next few days to see if it gets any replies.

  5. Mike Herbert says:

    Hi Charle Jones. I remember your grandad Mal Clarke as a a very hard-working wing half who was not particularly fast but who kept running all game from box to box. I also remember meeting him at the Pontypridd Cottage Hospital where he was sent to recuperate after an injury or minor operation sometime around 1968. My mum was a ward sister at the hospital and suggested I visited him as he wasn’t getting many visitors from Cardiff. I took him some chocolate and enjoyed a long chat with him – the first chance I had ever had to talk football with a “real” footballer. Sorry to hear he is no longer with us.

    Mike Herbert

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Thanks for that Mike – hopefully Charlie will get to read your comments.

  7. Charlie Jones says:

    Hi Mike, thank you for commenting about Malcolm. That’s great to hear about how you met him in Hospital! Do you remember what you spoke about? It’s so interesting hearing about him when he was playing, I never really spoke to him about his playing days.

  8. Gerry says:

    I think Malcom played in one of the great Ninian games v Hamburg
    Its on YouTube. Mind you I can’t watch it!!?
    It’s as bad as the Bla***** Pla*****off

  9. The other Bob Wilson says:

    Hello Gerry and thanks for getting in touch. I was 12 at the time of the Hamburg match and, possibly, didn’t appreciate the enormity of the occasion because I can’t remember being too upset at the time. In fact, I can remember consoling my Dad who was never really one to get too worked up when at a match – I’d never seen him so disappointed after a game and I never saw him like that again after either.
    Anyway, I’ve watched the video Charlie and I can confirm that Malcolm is in it – he’s wearing number four and gets mentioned by the commentator a couple of times – here’s a link.

  10. Gerry says:

    re Hamburg
    I was there at the age of 16 and I am sure I have never recovered from watching those last seconds. A match that resonates with your nomme de plume.
    As a matter of fact I wonder what the worst/most traumatic 10 results have been for Cardiff?
    I don’t count for example the 2008 cup final, Malky’s playoff defeat etc.; sad as they were, they were, at least to me, not traumatic.
    May I offer, before I leave the keyboard in tears, Cardiff v Watford…… v.Sheff Utd…..
    v Sheff Wed…..v Stoke………v M’boro………Well there’s a few to go on. You wont need the dates, you will just KNOW the match!

  11. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I agree with you are those matches you say weren’t traumatic Gerry – I really enjoyed the FA Cup Final despite the result.
    The Watford match was worse than the Sheffield United one for me. Blimey, it’s forty five years ago now, but I can remember that game on a dusty Ninian Park pitch pretty well – in a funny way, it was a little like the recent home match with Leeds where we did everything but score and ended up losing to a very ordinary team indeed. If we’d have won that game, there is a good chance that the 5-1 defeat at Sheffield United would have counted for nothing because I would have picked us to beat a Luton team with nothing to play for in our final match.
    There was a kind of inevitability about that Sheffield Wednesday match. I can remember a week earlier that Preston kicked off at Birmingham about half an hour after our miserable final game at Ninian Park against Ipswich and despite that massive downer, we were in the Play Offs with a minute to go with the score 1-1 at St Andrews – it was when Preston scored right at the death that I just knew we were not going to finish in the top six. Middlesbrough was weird, I was watching it thinking “this isn’t really happening, but, again, it was late goals which killed us – Norwich scored so many goals after the 90 minute mark to turn draws into wins and defeats into draws (like they did against us at Carrow Road). I can remember us winning at Preston and having promotion in our own hands until Norwich scored the goal which enabled them to beat Derby 3-2 eight minutes into added time!
    Stoke was the worst for me, because I was so sure we were in the Final after the first leg. The game at Ninian Park was a bit of a non event with neither side looking like scoring, so when the goal came as we were being told to stay off the pitch at the final whistle, it was absolutely devastating and to have the winner come via a huge deflection from a free kick only put the tin hat on things.
    I wouldn’t put either of them above any of the matches you list, but I hated that match against the wurzels when Scott Murray ran in front of the Bob Bank doing the Ayatollah after scoring. I remember thinking we were finally going to beat then when Kav put us ahead in the second half, but then they hit us with three goals in ten minutes, and also that game with Sheffield United when the ref sent two of our players off quite early in the game – we might have finished the season as dreadfully as we did and still not had a problem were it not for a certain Paul Taylor!

  12. Gerry says:

    I’ ll see you these and raise you a missed penalty in 1924 .
    So that’s 8, 2 to go.
    And that’s enough heartache from me!
    PS, the sales of Tosh and Kav fall into another catagory altogether to excite the attentions of the psychotherapist fraternity.

    I will have to face up to the fact that I have wasted my life….

  13. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I suppose the fact that I’ve been trying to come up with two more games and not succeeded is proof of something I already knew Gerry – I’ve never tended to get too downcast by defeats.
    I did consider two more matches though – the first was at Newport on Easter Monday 1983. Unlike some City fans, I’ve never had a problem with Newport. In fact, if I have a second team, it’s probably them and the reason for that could be that I’ve never considered them a threat. Maybe them beating us by an offside goal to nil (we had two or our own harshly disallowed) to go top of the Third Division table and looking certs for promotion, possibly at our expense, explains why I was as angry as I’ve ever been after that game – it cannot be included though because the story ended happily with us going up (I wanted County to go up as well as long as it didn’t stop us being promoted).
    I’ve never been traumatised by relegations because you tend to see them coming from a long way off, so they don’t leave you stunned, but Cardiff 0 Hull 4 in the Premier League is probably the worst individual game I’ve seen in a relegation season. I can recall the feeling of utter hopelessness that prevailed in the second half as what were a pretty ordinary team by the standards of that league, who we were eight points better than in winning the Championship, showed that they were a lot, lot better than us.

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