Lee Clark: he bleeds black and white with a hint of yellow
- Credit: PA
I always liked Lee Clark. I like him even more now.
There was a time when I thought he acted the northern role – once in the car park at Colney as the media waited for a press conference, wrapped up to our necks in the freezing cold, he walked out in shorts and T-shirt and told us to man up. Like a northerner. Yeh, right.
Clark gave me what for when I wrote a column having a go at his beloved Newcastle, but he was straight. When he left his role as City's assistant manager to take over at Huddersfield he contacted me. He wanted to say thank you to the City fans. Whenever I have seen him since he has always made a point of coming over and shaking my hand, as he does with other lads he came across in Norwich.
His autobiography, Black or White, no Grey Areas, was published this week and it's clear how much he enjoyed his time at Carrow Road, where he worked under manager Glenn Roeder, inset.
'I never regretted joining Norwich City for a minute. I relished my time there. It is a great club with fantastic facilities, terrific support and an excellent stadium,' he writes.
His departure in December, 2008, soured his relationship with Roeder. When rumours of Huddersfield's interest first emerged I recall Roeder saying if Clark was going, he'd know about it. He didn't.
Clark recalls: 'My relationship with Roeder was good but he was disappointed and frustrated I decided to leave. It is fair to say our friendship cooled for a few years and we weren't in touch as often as we were. I think he took it personally when I left and he shouldn't have done. Maybe he thought I should've stayed with him longer. We've since spoken and everything is fine with us now.'
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One person who didn't take it personally was Delia Smith – their relationship positively prospered.
Says Clark: 'Delia wrote a beautiful letter to me when I left to go to Huddersfield. I still keep in touch with her and whenever I'm in Norwich I always go to see her. She's a special person. You just wish every club in the land was owned or run by someone similar and the game would be a better place to play, watch and manage.'
It's hard to forget Clark's ties with the north-east – the book contains some great stuff about his time at Newcastle's huge rivals, Sunderland, including how he had the interior of his club car changed from red and white to black and white, but it's nice to Norwich features so positively in his career.
Black or White, no Grey Areas, is published by Mojo Risin Publishing, priced £9.99.
The sporting world is full of stories, controversies, riddles and funnies. You name, it's got it, which makes writing a column so enjoyable.
But every so often a subject arises that you feel the need to write about, but struggle because you can't come up with a conclusion.
This week's riddle is boxer Anthony Ogogo's defeat at the hands of Craig Cunningham. Ogogo was expected to win, but had his hands full against the southpaw from the opening round until the moment his corner pulled him out in the eighth round.
The end was strange: referee Ian John Lewis called a time-out so Ogogo could have some loose tape sorted. Then, as he stood in his corner, the fight was ended. I later wondered whether the official had actually made the decision for his corner, because I saw no tape come loose.
Anyway, Ogogo, who had been knocked down in the second round, had been suffering from double vision; it later transpired he had a fractured eye socket – which may have been fractured before the fight.
I find it remarkable and hard to understand how a fighter can enter the ring with a fractured eye socket and not know about it. But I am not a suspicious sort. I believe what people tell me and have no reason to contradict what Ogogo or promoter, Kalle Sauerland, say. But if a fighter is able to get into a ring with a condition that causes him to suffer double vision, there's a hole in the safety net.
The British Boxing Board of Control need to investigate this thoroughly. Boxing prides itself on very stringent measures to ensure the best possible health for boxers, at all times. It's a given, as well as an obvious necessity.
Ogogo's had no luck with injuries; this is the last thing he needs.