Sydney (“Sammy”) Clarke
Played for Claremont Cottesloe Football Club 1933-1941 Games played 133 and scored 6 goals
Touted as the greatest junior footballer in Western Australia in 1932, while playing with Bunbury team Pastimes, Sydney Campbell Clarke (invariably known as ‘Sammy’) made his senior debut with Claremont-Cottesloe the following year and promptly enhanced his reputation still further by winning the Sandover Medal. Built along the lines of a stick insect, Clarke could lift his skeletal frame to prodigious heights, and once he got his hands around the ball they stayed there.
Many outstanding debutants suffer second season blues; not so ‘Sammy’ Clarke, who in 1934 became the first ever dual winner of the Sandover Medal.¹ He made his interstate debut at Perth Oval the same year, lining up on a half back flank, and being named high among Western Australia’s best players, in a comfortable 46 point win over South Australia.
That game was on the Saturday, and on the following Tuesday, at Leederville, ‘Sammy’ Clarke, still just 20 years of age, was chosen to captain his state in a second game against the Croweaters. Once again he put in a characteristically spectacular aerial display to be selected as one of Western Australia’s best, although on this occasion it was the South Australians who prevailed.
Clarke went on to represent Western Australia eight times, including both matches at the 1937 Perth carnival.
Twice a winner of Claremont-Cottesloe’s fairest and best award, ‘Sammy’ Clarke played 133 games for the club between 1933 and 1941, and was at the forefront of its emergence as a league power. Sadly, when the side finally broke through for a premiership in 1938, Clarke was away in England, training to be a pilot. He returned the following year, however, and, playing in his customary centre half back position, was one of the best players afield as the Monts overturned East Fremantle in the Grand Final by 19 points.
During the war, ‘Sammy’ Clarke served in the RAF as a pilot, but on his first active flying mission in 1945 he tragically lost his life.
Author – John Devaney