Clarke Carlisle

2012 - 2013 | 42 apps | 4 goals Centre back signed by Andy Boothroyd, initially on loan. Captained the Cobblers at Wembley in the 2013 play off final.

When Clarke Carlisle signed for Northampton Town in 2012 it was something of a coup for the club.

Having played in the Premier League for both Watford and Burnley, dropping down to the lower half of League Two was a surprise to most Cobblers fans.

Clarke joins Charles and Danny to talk about how his career as a footballer began and how he came to play for Northampton Town, culminating in a Play Off Final at Wembley.

We also chat about Clarke’s life away from football and the struggles he’s experienced with his mental health, including how his friendships with Aidy Boothroyd and Bayo Akinfenwa helped save his life.

**Trigger Warning**

In this episode, Clarke Carlisle talks about his suicide attempt.

How To Listen


[00:00:00] Charles Commins: Hello and welcome to, it's All Cobbles to me. I'm Charles Commins . This. Is Danny Brothers. Hello, and I'm delighted to say that we're joined by a man whose career spanned over 500 games for nine different clubs.
A knowledgeable player on the pitch, as well as being quite clever off of it. He played 44 times to Northampton Town across two spells from January, 2012 to May, 2013. Captaining the cobblers at Wembley in his last professional game. Welcome to the pod. Clark. Carla, how you doing Clark? Oh, hey 
[00:00:34] Clarke Carlisle: Charles. Thank you very much.
Hey, Danny. You all right Gent? 
[00:00:37] Charles Commins: Yeah. Good, good. Thank you. There's so much in the introduction there already, uh, Clark, but there's so much more to talk about as well wi with your career, which is fabulous, I think. But let's start with your early years, shall we? So, question that I love to always ask every single footballer is, did you always want to be a footballer?
Was, was that it from day one? Yes. 
[00:00:59] Clarke Carlisle: Categorically, yes. Next question. No, no, it it, yes. Football was ingrained in me even though probably dissimilar to, to most lads. I didn't really play for a structured side until I was 12 years old. Because we grew up in the Mormon Church a and in the Mormon church, you weren't allowed to do any activities on a Sunday.
And you know, at that time in the eighties, all kids football was Sunday League, wasn't it? It was school football or Sunday League. And so I didn't have a chance to get involved in any of that. It was only when we stopped going to the Mormon church when I was like 11, I think. That, um, I was able to go and join a local Sunday League side called a s c Ribble, uh, in Leland.
And, um, I, I vividly remember the manager of the side, like my dad was like, oh, you know, me, me boy's decent, can I have a Charlie side? And the manager guy called Tony Knight. He said, well, you know, I've got a really good side here. He, he is gonna have to be decent to get in. We had a game against couple. We won 11 nil and I scored six.
And Tony was like, yeah, he can come back next week if he wants training's on Wednesdays. But once we got out of there, um, And I joined the Sunday League team. Uh, it, it quickly went from, you know, like zero to 60 in my involvement in football. But it was more important to me than just me playing the game because my dad used to play Saturday and Sunday League football in, around Preston, Preston and district leagues.
And, uh, he was brilliant. He had trials at North End. He had England trials, but broke his ankle as a kid. So, you know, football was a love of his and me playing football. My dad and my granddad used to come to every game that I played, you know, and at that time we didn't really have much quality time when the old man.
You know, he, he, due to societal issues, you know, he was a black guy growing in, uh, trying to raise a family in a predominantly white neighborhood, and he couldn't get a job and he was dealing with all these obstacles in his life and he dealt with them by locking himself in his man cave and smoking weed, you know, so we didn't really get much quality time with the old man, so to.
Play football. Uh, and for him to watch for it to be somewhat, we were both passionate about and for me to achieve and see his, you know, pride enjoying that, it was huge for me. You know, football had such a greater meaning than me just enjoying the game. And so very quickly I went from Sunday League to sign in for Black and Robs.
Center of Excellence, and this was when they just won the Premier League and they built the big Blackburn Robers indoor center. And, uh, Kenny Dar Glee was a manager and that, and yeah, you know, I poor my enjoyment and excitement in new football was, was really, really huge. 
[00:04:03] Charles Commins: I, I, I, I imagine that that kind of multiplied then, so you go from Sunday League youth football to then being signed for, for a professional center of excellence.
All of a sudden, you know, it's, it's not just park pitches anymore. It's a massively multimillion pound building that has just been built specifically for that. And you are now maybe going in and going, this, this could be me for life set up doing 
[00:04:31] Clarke Carlisle: what I love. I don't think that ever crossed my mind, you know, Charles, because you, you, you gotta think of the, the timing.
This is like 91, 92, 93, and the Premier League had only just started. So, you know, there wasn't really that, that proliferation of cash and prestige around that. It was just starting as a new concept. And to be honest, a lot of football was still up in arms that the Premier League had been started. But, um, yeah, the money hadn't really infiltrated right then.
And it was just more about the opportunity. You know, as I got a little bit older it, it became more and more of a reality that it might be an opportunity for me. But then at 14, Blackburn released me and that was the first time I felt out of love with football. You know, because at 14 years of age, I'm just starting to harbor these thoughts that I can do this.
I'm, I'm getting in. Don't forget, I'm a counseling state kid and I'm getting introduced to these wonderful facilities and all the rest of it, and then all of a sudden they just say, actually, no, you're not good enough. Bang to the curb. Uh, I remember I cried for like three days. Uh, I said to me, mum and dad, I'm, I'm never playing football again.
But luckily for me, a scout from Blackpool came and knocked on our door. Uh, a man called Fred O'Donohue. His name will resonate in that LAN area, and he knocked on the door. He said, Hey, Blackburn have released you. He said, well, look, I scouted your dad. When he was a kid and I've been waiting for his offspring so that I can cast my eye over them.
So, you know, some 16, 17 years after it scouted me, dad, this guy comes knocking on our door and says, I want you to come and, and play for Blackpool. So, uh, I signed for Blackpool from there and, and that was like the bonafide beginning of, of my career. 
[00:06:23] Charles Commins: Get to six fields. Then Ad Boothroyd is the man that signed you, obviously a man that you already knew very well.
You met him first at Leeds when you were there. Um, and then he took you. To Watford, when, uh, was that his first managerial job? He was a coach at it, wasn't he? So he then takes you to Watford, brings you in as a first team. Centerback wants you to play, wants you in his side, you know, clearly a friendship develops there and therefore, when.
League two Northampton Town come knocking. Um, you were at Preston at the time on, in, on loan and did, yeah. Was it Graham Wesley that came in and, and decided that he wanted to make a change? Uh, 
[00:07:11] Clarke Carlisle: no. It was Lord Voldemort.
It was he who should not be named.
[00:07:22] Charles Commins: Oh dear. Um, a r i, I'm presuming therefore, gives you a phone call. 
[00:07:29] Clarke Carlisle: He does indeed. Well, you, you say your friendship started. I'll tell you how the friendship started. We were at Leeds Aada was a coach, and Aada, as you know, is, is so qualified. He is so passionate about taking things onto the next level, you know, and, and really improving players.
And, um, he would put on fantastic coaching sessions at Leeds. Uh, but the manager at the time, Kevin Blackwell. And Kevin Blackwell, uh, even though Kevin's eminently qualified, uh, in that managerial role, he, he, the way he treated his staff and some of the players was, was just, Plain disrespectful, you know?
And, uh, there are, there are some players who, uh, value respect over knowledge. And, um, it would ad be putting on a fantastic session. And I remember ke, Kevin Blackwell had come bouncing out in his Cuban eels, uh, a and he'd be like, no, no, no. That's a load of rubbish jd. Go off and do the kids. I'm gonna do this.
But we as players, well this is a brilliant session, but, but it was a session that's probably on the cusp of, you know, the new changing format of, of football coaching and. The, the way he spoke to the kit man, the physio was really full of disrespect. So AIE and I used to bond, uh, on the dance floor over a pine
where AIE had just be finished spinning on his head. Oh. And then we'd have a chat about how, you know, ridiculous A, B, and C was, And so when he got the opportunity to go and, and manage at Watford, he, he gave me a call. He is like, Clark, you don't want to be with that guy there. You know, we're, we're gonna come and do things differently down at Watford.
And, uh, yeah, I, I went straight down the road and he was right. We got promoted in the first season, you know, to Premier League. It was awesome. But yeah. When, um, when he was at Northampton, I. I'd just been, I'd just gone on loan to Preston. Uh, it was going really well under Phil Brown and then we lost like two games and he got the sack.
There's something in me that feels as there was something else going on there cuz we'd won seven on the bounce previously, you know, we were doing really well. But anyhow, Graham Wesley comes in, I dunno what, what you guys know are Graham Wesley. But, um, he came in and his opening meeting. Um, at North End, it was actually a day of a game.
It was about half one, and he came in, he said, right, you lad, uh, my kids don't call me dad. They call me medal winner. I'm like, really? Really, he, he's, he's talking to Barry Ashby, he is talking to in Hume. He's talking to Neil Miller, myself, Graham Alexander, and, and this guy's won the conference north and the conference, and he says his kids call him medal, will it winner lost us immediately.
But anyhow, his regime was just off the wall different. Anything that I've ever experienced, uh, a give me a call. Do you want to come down to Northampton? I was like, mate, I'll be there in heartbeat. You know, and I've gotta say, it was an easier decision for me to make, even though the cobbles were fighting a relegation battle in, in, uh, in League two at the time, because I was still on loan from Burnley.
So, you know, it wasn't a financial decision for me. The only financial workings that had to be made were between ad Northampton and the clubs as to what percentage, uh, the Cobbles paid. So it was very easy for, for me to make that decision to be with AD, to be somewhere where I knew I was valued and where I knew that the training and the regime was gonna be something that, that I could buy into.
[00:11:01] Danny Brothers: Mm-hmm. We were bottom of the table at that point as well, weren't we? Yeah. Bottom of the bottom of league too, right? I think we just lost the Tor key, which I think I remember going to, but then like after that, we just suddenly surged up the table. So pretty much single. I went inside, I think so single handed, least saved our football league status.
[00:11:17] Clarke Carlisle: You know, one of the biggest moments, and it's one of the biggest moments in my life as a human being. Uh, do you remember the Harford game? Yeah. The Neil Nails. Yeah. Away at Harford? Yeah. Yeah. Um, I, uh, I didn't know it at the time, but I know it now on reflection. Um, for 10 days before that, I was in one of the biggest depressive episodes of my life, and I didn't, obviously, I, I didn't know I had depression until I.
2014 or, or there thereabouts. So, um, I was in one of the biggest episodes of my life and I was self-medicating massively. I was drinking heavily, I was sleeping all the time. Aid was like, where are you? And I'm like, oh, I'm stuck on the motorway, stuff like that. And I actually went missing for two days. Uh, when I say went missing, I, I went off the radar.
I went, I went into to a meeting in London. I got absolutely battered and that carried on for two days, uh, on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. And eventually I picked the phone up to AD and it was like, where are you? What you doing? I said, I'm in London, blah, blah, blah. I dunno what I'm doing. And he, he immediately, he left training.
He, he drove down to London to meet me, uh, picked me up and drove me back up to Northampton, and in that car journey of about two and a half hours, we are the, I would say the first and the most honest conversation I've ever had in football. And, uh, I sh you know, I shared what was going on. Aie shared his insight.
He, he shared his care for me and for me as a person, you know, and we, and we got all that down. Got back to the hotel in Northampton. It was like, look, I want you to have a good night's sleep, and then we'll see you in the morning if you, if you're good to play. Uh, we had a good night's sleep and you know, we say it's good to talk.
The difference in my, uh, feeling and perception that very next morning was stratospheric to how I was feeling the day before. Mm-hmm. And, um, and I, I put my boots on. We went out there, we got a drawer, didn't we? Mm-hmm. Away at Harford. It was one of the hardest games of my life, because physically I was on my backside.
Mm-hmm. Because of what aid had done for me the day before, I would've run up Everest twice that day. 
[00:13:33] Danny Brothers: Yeah. That's incredible, isn't it? It's that that's the game that pretty much, that did secure us, I think the lead in that. Cause I think we'd, we'd lost three before that. We were kind of hanging on other people's results, keeping us up and we still needed that one point and we, we went and get it.
But to, for that to happen. So transformatively for you over 24 hours. It, it shows probably a different side to ad boothroyd to what a lot of our listeners will probably think of him after the way it finishes and all that kind of thing. So I think it's quite, it's quite important to bring these stories out.
I think sometimes, because you never know what impact a conversation is having. He probably didn't know what impact, even him coming and making the effort to come and pick you up would have, like, even that fact I think would've been, I assume, massive 
[00:14:10] Clarke Carlisle: for you. You know what? What's massive for me and especially knowing and doing what I do now, is that he didn't come to me as an asset.
He came to me as a human being. And, you know, working through that conversation and situation at that time actually increased the value of his asset the very next day. Mm-hmm. That, that's the importance of it. Does that make sense? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. No, if he'd have come to me, say, no, we've gotta gain tomorrow, what the heck are you doing?
I don't think that would've worked for me in that situation. No. So when 
[00:14:41] Charles Commins: you signed for Northampton Clark, I, I dunno whether you. Kind of knew this or, or, or felt this, but from my point of view, just personally us signing Clark Carlisle was, was huge. You'd played in the Premier League, you were, you know, in, in my eyes you were a fantastic center backer and, and a leader, which was something that we felt that we desperately needed at that time in that battle against allegation.
Yeah. And normally, Being a Northampton fan, we're used to, you get LOEs coming in, they're coming in because, uh, I, well, it's either LOEs or full transfers. They're coming in because there's money. But if you're right down at the bottom of the league, then you know that you are not going to be going and getting, you know, brilliant players that are on the rise necessarily because they want to go and win a promotion.
They want to get something that's got gravitas with it, whereas, Potential relegation is not something that everybody would want to have on their cv. But having a player like you come in, I mean, the rumor that went around beforehand that it was gonna happen, I was giddy with excitement. And then when you do sign, it's one of those where you go, oh my God, that's, that's Clark Carlisle.
He's played in the Premier League and not, we're not talking like 10 years ago. Played in the Premier League recently. Prior? 
[00:16:10] Clarke Carlisle: Yeah. 
[00:16:10] Charles Commins: Um, y yes. Okay. You, you'd had some injuries, which maybe meant you didn't quite get to the full PO potential of Premier League football for the entirety of your career, but you had a great career in the top two divisions of English football for the most part of it, to then come to League two.
Y for me it was a marquee signing despite the fact that it was only alone. And we were like, well, you, you'll go back to, to Burnley at the end of the season. That'll probably be, be it. Did you actually feel like you were coming in and, and, and feel any of that kind of ore from the fan base of sort of going, he's a real.
Player. That's no disrespect to anybody that was already 
[00:16:58] Clarke Carlisle: there. What a really interesting question. Do you know? I, I don't think, well, in fact, it's not even think, I didn't feel any of that It, that it is wonderful for me to hear right now that that's, uh, It is awesome to, to hear that that's how it was received.
But you, what you have to factor in for myself is that the very points that you are stating, they mark the decline to me. Mm-hmm. Does that make sense? Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, so, so as opposed to me coming in and being, yeah, I'm the great, I am, you know, I'm, I'm actually at a point where I'm trying to salvage a, a, a career or, or, you know, or hopefully harbor, uh, a, a, a new contract ongoing, even if it was at Northampton.
You know, because once you start getting loaned out by clubs and farmed out, you know, I, I was on loan from alone at that point. To me, as a human being, I'm being doubly rejected. You know that it is not just my parent club who doesn't want me. It's the subsidiary club. Doesn't want me either. And, and, and I'm sat at home thinking, my God, am I useless?
Now, you know what, what have I got left? And, and so when I come to Northampton, I'm, I'm actually really grateful that someone wants me to play in their side. I think something that feeds into this is that, and it is the reason why I'm on loan from alone. I was never the type of player who, if they weren't picked, would just happily sit in the stand and pick the wage up.
You know, to me I was one of those people I needed to play. Uh, because going back to having daddy issues as a kid, you know, being play to playing was being accepted and validated. I. To, to play was to be approved. So if anyone didn't pick me, it wasn't just that I wasn't good enough to play, I was being rejected as a human being.
And that had a catastrophic effect, uh, effect inside me. So, you know, I was delighted to come to Northampton at that point. And because I was viewing it as what it went to meant to me, I don't think I actually took on board that it would be received that, you know, I was any kind of stellar signing or anything like that.
I, I think 
[00:19:19] Charles Commins: it was, I, I can only speak for myself obviously, but for me, it felt like, um, wow. We, we've, we've actually signed a, a, a player that, first of all, I've heard of. And second. And second of all, I knew what you were like as a player. Yeah. Because I'd seen you, you know, highlights or live matches on the tv.
So therefore I knew what we were getting as such. Yeah, I appreciate what you're saying In terms of that you felt what? Well, it, looking back, it, it signified actually the downturn and towards the end of your career. But from us, and I guess this is almost lower. Small club mentality, which I'll get pelers for, but to, to go and sign a player like that.
And don't forget, we had beak and fenra in the side at this point. Yes. You've already got a massive. Being in Veo, that's the best way to put it. The, the, the, the, the aura of that man is incredible. Um, and then you come in at the other end of the pitch. So now we've got this focal point in attack, and for me, a focal point in defense, somebody to really lead that line and to basically just.
Nothing got past you, or at least it seemed like that. Maybe that is my memory, you know, playing tricks on me. But it felt like we went from a team that essentially was fairly, not necessarily easy, but, but we obviously weren't doing very well being at the bottom of the league to suddenly being able to defend.
And having just, um, it, it was almost like just having that presence of, uh, of your mind, of your footballing mind and knowledge of the game, how to read it, and you were then able to lead the other three that were in your back line to do the things that needed to happen. Just the basics to keep the ball out the back of the net.
[00:21:16] Clarke Carlisle: It's an astute insight, Charles, because you, you say it, uh, it seems like nothing got past me. Uh, and that the, the trick in that is that I came in and I used my voice to defend. Mm-hmm. I actually didn't do that much, you know, I headed the ball very well. Mm-hmm. But what I did, and, and, and what I've always tried to, um, I've always respected in my game.
Is, uh, is I've been the, the eyes and ears of the others. Uh, and when I do that and I defend with my voice, that makes my job so much easier. So, in the way that we defended, I think it's probably underestimated the value of, of Luke Guttridge, uh, and, uh, Ben Hardin. Because those two listening to me and going where I want them to go in that middle, middle of the park means that they run 15 K in a game.
Uh, and me and Kel only have to run five. You put more defensively. It makes us solid. You know, we, if you can, if you can put people in areas that deter the opposition from sending the ball into attack, job done. You know, I think as a center off, if you've got a great connection with that defensive midfielder and they trust your words implicitly, You will have a fantastic defensive unit.
And, and that's what I wanted to come in and do. And I think at Northampton was one of the first times that because I, I had played majority of my games in the Premier League and the championship. I didn't feel fraudulent in coming and backing orders out. Mm. You know, I didn't feel like, um, you know, these are players who I, I should defer to or, or anything like that.
No disrespect to those players, but, You know, like you said, I'd just played in the Premier League i'd, I'd just had my, I had just had rings around me by Tiri and, and Mark over Mars and ber and that, you know, I can apply that in this situation. Mm. Yeah. And, and it works. It works. I, 
[00:23:23] Danny Brothers: I think, like from our point of view, as fans of a Lead two team though as well, we've talked about it so many times on the pod that aloe can come in still from the Premier League Championship.
What sets them apart is their attitude, especially at Centerback. You, you, we've had so many loan players coming in over the years where they just like drag themselves around the pitch. They'll just be like, oh, I'm bigger than you. You know, I've, I'm more, I'm better than this. I'm just coming here to the end of the season.
Especially when we're bottoming the league. It would've been so easy for someone to come in, in that position and think, You know, I'm here for the end of the season. Don't care what happened to this club. I don't care if they go down and just like get fit, go back to their parent club and just be done with it and not care, which we've seen a lot over the years.
But the, that's the one thing that set you apart from a lot of low knees is that you came in, you did that shouting, that organizing, and you just gave a voice to that squad and a leadership to that squad that kept us in the football league. I know we joked about it earlier, but. It was such a major part of keeping this club in the football league and it, it wouldn't go unnoticed by anybody.
The impact that you had coming into us there. Cause who knows where we would've been if that didn't happen. If, if you didn't come in. 
[00:24:24] Clarke Carlisle: Like we, it's incredible, you know, Danny, cause I came in and I saw the constituent parts of the side and I couldn't understand why it was at the bus league. You know, Kelt sent her off.
Um, was Lee in gold? Was it Lee? 
[00:24:39] Charles Commins: You had, um, so Shane Higgs would've been in gold for the majority before you signed? Yeah. And then Neil Kitson would've played a few games not long after. He saved a couple of penalties as well, if you remember. Yeah. Um, so yeah, it was Shane Higgs, Neil Kitson and Freddy Hall were the goalkeepers that season.
Freddy Hall. 
[00:24:57] Clarke Carlisle: Oh, I must be thinking of the, the season. We got to play our final then. Yeah. Lee 
[00:25:01] Charles Commins: Nichols was the online goalkeeper the year after. Yes, yes. 
[00:25:04] Clarke Carlisle: Yeah. So you, you had Kel at the back, uh, and B front. Uh, talker. You say he is a big presence. This guy is, is just a colossal of a human being. He's the most incredible.
He, there are two loved and trusted friends that I have now in my life that I met in football, and b is one of them. Um, and I'll tell you this about B because you, you talked about his aura and his presence. He has it everywhere, doesn't he? Uh uh And he has it in, in multiple areas. So he's got, he, he, yeah.
You know, he's got his brand, he's got his beast mode on. He's doing this, he's doing that. What people, again, might often overlook or not see, just like what we said about aie, is, um, you know, trigger alert for anyone listening, I'm gonna about talk about, uh, you know, my suicide attempt. Um, I. Tried to take me on life in 2014.
Uh, put myself in front of the Laurie, uh, uh, airlifted to hospital, and b, immediately drove up to Leeds and sat by my hospital bed for two days reading his Bible to me. Geez. Now people don't know that stuff about this guy, you know? And, um, to open my eyes. And, and see the big destroyer there. Um, and when I did and he held my hands and, and he didn't ask questions, he said, Clark, I just wanna sit with you.
I just wanna pray with your brother. And, uh, and he did that for two days at a time when I obviously, you know, thought I was worth nothing. And this guy showed my worth and value to him in that way. That is something I'll never, ever, ever forget. You know, so this guy's aura in his presence, he was bigger than just on the pitch.
It was bigger than just in the dressing room. You know, he was, uh, such an incredible man and I, and I'm proud to know him. So, knowing that you've got those two top and bottom of the pitch and, uh, ish, Ishmael Des. Yeah. Yes, mercurial. But what I saw this guy do in training, I'm like, why don't you do it on a Saturday?
You know, this guy had capabilities. Um, I, I couldn't understand why the side wasn't performing in the league. And do you know what, I think it was just a bit of, of coordination and a bit of guidance and, and maybe a calming presence. Hmm. The good thing about being a center off and trying to be a calming presence in League two is that I don't have to get on the ball and do 60, 78.
He passes a game because that's not what League Two dictates. And if that was what Northampton needed at that time, I'd have been dead in the water. You know that? That's not my game. It's in fact, I'll tell you what, case in point, because I went to York for a couple of months, didn't I? You did Gary Mills before I came to, and that's exactly what he wanted.
Exactly what he wanted. He wanted a footballing center off. So I went in there and, you know, thinking, oh yeah, I can come to, um, you know, have that influence again on a team that that's just coming to league football. Oh my gosh. I stuck out like a sore thumb, you know, I couldn't pass water. It was ridiculous.
So Aada was like, do you wanna come to knock out? I'm sent her off. Get me outta here. 
[00:28:36] Charles Commins: It's really interesting actually, because, so, so that spell at York happened? Um, in between. So you'd, you'd come on loan from Burnley to us. Well, Via Preston, um, to us for the end of the 20 11, 20 12 season. Yeah. We were hopeful.
I know Ad Boothroyd wanted to sign you permanently. Burnley did release you at the end of that season, I believe. Mm-hmm. You ended up going to York. You couldn't, I presume, work out the financials with Northampton that would get you a proper contract and you then signed for York City. You played there until the November where you then signed on loan to us again?
Yeah. Until the January as a short term loan for the point where basically we could get you into the transfer window, I presume, to then sign permanently, which you then did. And you signed an 18 month contract at that point. Yeah. I was gutted going back. I, I know this just sounds like I'm just lavishing praise on you.
[00:29:32] Clarke Carlisle: alright. Keep it coming. Keep. 
[00:29:36] Charles Commins: But I was gutted when, you know, I was thinking if we can get you signed permanently, wow. What of defense we're gonna have the next season. We are going to go from being relegation candidates to, you know, I was hopeful playoff contenders as it did turn out to be, I was gutted when you didn't sign for us the first time.
You know, there. And then, and I, I, I presumed at that point, Well, that's it. That's it. It's over. But there was always chat, and I think it always came from ad Boothroyd saying that we were still having conversations. So whenever the guys from the Radio Northampton team at, you know, pre and post-match conferences were were asking him the question mm, he was always bringing your name up and saying, well, we're still working on it.
We're still trying to get him in. It was so 
[00:30:23] Clarke Carlisle: clever in the media aid. He wasn't, he Well, it was clever. 
[00:30:27] Charles Commins: And then, and then it gets to November and you do come back and you do join us again. It's interesting that part of the reason for that was style of play. Essentially at York, you didn't feel suited. You so therefore come back, come to six fields up permanently this time.
And this is in a better side. AD has already worked a bit of magic. He's gone and bought in some players that have improved us. To be fair, a lot of those players he bought in the previous January, Kelvin Lang Mead had come in. Um, he was your centerback partner. You know, we'd got those players in and he'd then managed to actually add a little bit more magic to it that had get, got us further up the league.
Mm-hmm. And obviously that ends. Wembley and lots of excitement. That unfortunately now is a, a Wembley appearance that especially Danny and I would rather forget. Mm-hmm. The thing is, with this, you are the first person I think we've spoken to from that Wembley team, so we've got our own. Views on, on what happens and why, and obviously that's all done through just basically from being right on the outside.
We've got no inside knowledge at all. So I think, Danny, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but essentially we all kind of got into Wembley, found out that Bayo wasn't starting. Mm-hmm. And then went well that's that then. 
[00:31:58] Danny Brothers: Yeah, I was, I remember being clearly on Wembley way, just like. Milling around, have a couple of beers in Wembley Way, and that it's the last bit of team news that we could have ever imagined.
Like you'd think everyone's bought their Wembley Beast mode on t-shirts and all that kind of thing. This was like beos final basically to, to come in. Like it was the biggest shock to, to all of us. And we just thought from our fans' point of view, we think it's such a drop and. It even felt like that inside the ground as well.
And I, I dunno what it felt like in the dressing room or, or, or things like that. But, but to us it was, it just felt flat from the start. 
[00:32:35] Clarke Carlisle: Yeah. Yeah. Uh, not playing b in that final, I think it's got to be one of eight's biggest regrets because to my mind, in all the time that I'd played for him, it, it was his biggest and most glaring error.
By a country mile, I would've even understood if he'd had played B and Platy. I, I'd have understood playing, you know, the two big man combo because, uh, breakfast Center AVEs, especially Andrew Davis mm-hmm. You know, he is feisty. He's feisty. So you get one of them to tie him up and win that aerial battle.
And we had willing workers. To, you know, to get the bits that there are two things that that be would've offered that I don't think Platy did. Platy didn't offer us any, any mobility whatsoever. No, none whatsoever. You know? So even if the, even if he rolled someone, I had no belief that he would get half a yard away to get the shot.
Mm. Whereas B, if he rolled someone, that person stayed rolled. Yeah. Yeah. Didn't they, you know, they stayed on the floor basically, and no matter what attempts they had, they stained at an arm's length. Arm's length away. Yeah. You know, so the. Those two would add that. And also, and you know, you, you are just reflecting, reflecting this point, but from a fan's perspective, there's no impact in the other dressing room for Platy.
Yep. You, you know, there are certain matches that I know we, we have one either when the team sheet goes out or when we're stood in the, in the, in the tunnel. And 95% of that is because you've got BAK and fem were hollering at one end and me hollering at the other. And in between is a cacophony, you know, of restless vibration where that I, I don't care what end of the pitch you're at, you, you are in for it today.
Yep. Yeah. And, and that really conveys itself. Aden knew the power of that because we used to practice it. We used to practice being in the tunnel when we were at Watford. See if everyone's shouting, it's not impactful. Mm. So we would stand and strategically place people and we'd say, you do this. You jump up and down, you bounce here.
And to the goalkeeper, it would say, tell the goalkeeper to stand in front of the opposing captain and bounce the ball across in front of their face against the wall. And catch it, bounce and t Strapp that the only thing I can say is you don't understand it as a player. The manager might have whatever politics are going on, whatever his strategic decisions are.
I didn't understand why B wasn't playing and I wanted B to play, but the fact that he's not. I have to accept and get on with. Mm. So if I'm gonna be the skipper, I can't be the one. When we're having a big day out at Wembley, loads of those lad will have never been there before. We'll never go there again.
I can't be the one going, oh my God, what's this? Oh, you know, this gonna be shit today. We've lost this, we've lost that. We can't do that. Mm-hmm. You know, I, I've gotta put that mask on, adopt the role and be everything. Positive, encouragement, blah, blah, blah. Uh, but you are right. It, you know, it took, it took a few teeth out of our mouth to not play being that final, but also Bradford were fired up by their Wembley loss.
Yes. Only was it a month or so earlier. Yeah. Mm-hmm. And, you know, I'd experienced that with, with Burnley, when you lose so close the next time you don't let it go. Yeah. And we, I, I could see the determination in these players that we're up against, not that, not that it, you know, it made me count out, but I could see it.
They're on it today. And it showed to me in the very first header I had against James Hansen. I will put my aerial ability up with anyone, you know, alongside my generation. And it opening in 30, 40 seconds, the ball came up. I saw the ball. I was like, yeah, I'm gonna have this. My gosh, the guy gave me elbow forearm planting me and nodded it down for nki wells, and I was just like, oh, niel.
I, I'm in for a game today. And he won the first three headers. And there's something psychological about me. Um, I've always set up in games. You know, the first thing you do, do it right. First thing you do, do it well. And if you don't, I don't want that to destroy my game. So if the first one doesn't go well, then you get it the next time.
Well, the first two didn't go well and I was like, right, you get it this time and Discord, and I was like, oh shit, we're really gonna be in for it today. That was a tough game that I, I don't think we should underestimate the quality of the opposition, but I've heard had a decent side and a determined inside out there.
[00:37:29] Charles Commins: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this was one of the things, obviously they'd got to the final, hadn't they? Of the, it was the lead cup, wasn't it? That, that they'd done such a fantastic run, uh, to get all the way through to the final. Um, there. They had a frontline that was just on fire throughout the season with NAR Wells and Hanson, this 
[00:37:47] Clarke Carlisle: classic big man little man, 
[00:37:48] Charles Commins: wasn't it?
Yeah. It was incredible. And obviously Nike Wells went on to have a career in the championship. I think Huddersfield was, was one of the last teams he was at. Um, so it was one of those where you, the deflation of the fact that right from the beginning and the fact that essentially it was game over at halftime from our perspective was a real blow.
Um, What was it like in the change room after that? I mean, I, I can imagine it's pretty low, but was there any, was there any kind of anger you said about how it's not your place before the game as the captain to be going and questioning the manager, especially in front of the players. But was there any anger towards the decisions that were made tactically 
[00:38:35] Clarke Carlisle: for that?
Not, not in the immediate aftermath. Not, not in, not in a Wembley dressing room. You know, you, you're in a Wembley dressing room. The, the playoffs are the best way to get promoted. They are the worst way to not get promoted. Uh, and the, the dejection and the sense of failure, um, more, it's a game that can change a player's life.
Mm-hmm. You know, the, the, the, the, the things that can happen after that, being in a, a higher league, getting a new potential, new contracts, you know, and, and, and all the rest of that, it can change a player's life. And then in that moment, that showpiece finale, all of them have got all their family there, all their friends there, all the fans there.
Anyone who's, anyone who means something in your life is at this game. And you don't just feel the loss of that potential huge life-changing career step. You also feel the shame and the embarrassment, uh, uh, you know, of letting your, your family down, your, the fans and your friends. And it could have been so much more so in the dressing room afterwards.
It's abject failure. That's where you feel that there's the angerness comes after. Anness comes, you know, a week later when you're thinking, when you've gotten over replaying your actual match incidents because you do that for time. Let me tell you, I still replay, uh, a match incident from the playoff final, uh, Q P R against Cardiff in, in 2003.
I still play that in my mind. Well, what I should have done. So, you know, you go through all of those and then you start to think about the bigger picture. And then he said, well, what chance did we have? Why? Why did he do this? Why did they do that? That comes after, but in that, in that moment, in the immediate aftermath, and as captain, uh, even though I'm feeling that abject failure, I've gotta go and console the others.
You know, I've gotta try and pick them up off the floor so that, you know, it's not hopefully a, a life impacting incident, but it's just a missed opportunity. But there'll be more to come. It, it's, sorry, Charles. The reason why I went to York and didn't sign for North Hampton was because I tried to retire the season before.
I thought I'd got a job opportunity at I T V and um, and I thought, do you know what a great way to go out keeping Northampton in? I've done across all four leagues, uh, let's make this transition into broadcasting. It didn't materialize. The verbal promises didn't make a contract. So we, you know, we get into preseason and the season starts and I've got no income.
I need to play, so, Um, were interested. I went to York. It all got found out there, like you said, tactically, but then there was the opportunity to go and play with ad. Now, over the course of that season, uh, I was having to have, uh, cortisone injections in my knees and, uh, anesthetics in my ankles to play the games in that playoff final, both ankles I had strapped at 90 degrees.
Uh, I had to have a, an anesthetic in both ankles and a painkiller in my right at halftime and another painkiller full-time, and I had a young family and get off the bus and I can't move. You know, I've got young kids running around and, and I'm almost, uh, uh, sometimes I did need a crutch, uh, and for three or four days I can't move and interact with my family.
So it's at that point where even though I still had the year left, it was, it was nothing to do with finances. It was the physical toll of the game on my body. I couldn't put myself through another year of five injections a week, you know, to, to get through a match. No matter how, um, much potential I thought there could have been in that squad 
[00:42:39] Charles Commins: on that because I think that is something that.
As fans we obviously don't know about at the time. It's not like a manager's gonna come out and say, oh, by the way, our key centerback is basically just, just full of drugs to make sure he can play and take on the pitch. Cause obviously 
[00:42:57] Clarke Carlisle: the things, and some of them make him playback
[00:43:02] Charles Commins: cause obviously the the opposition are gonna take that and go. Right. Okay, lads. This is what you need to do is go and sort him out in this particular area of his body and he'll be off fine. 
[00:43:11] Clarke Carlisle: Yeah. But 
[00:43:14] Charles Commins: that must take an immense toll on a person. Like, I mean, I've suffered with my own mental health. I, I don't shy away from that whatsoever.
Um, you know, I was taking medication for, I wanna say maybe four or five years at one point. Mm-hmm. Um, I will, you know, I, I will go on record and say, uh, I don't think you should ever compare, you know, between, you know, different people because they've all got their own lived experience. Um, I wonder whether or not if you'd have maybe finished your career a bit earlier.
So therefore you didn't need to have all of the injections and everything to keep going. In hindsight, do you think maybe if you had finished your career slightly earlier that maybe you wouldn't have felt as low afterwards? You, you taught there about not being able to basically be, uh, you know, up on your feet with your family?
Yeah, that's, that's got to be really 
[00:44:22] Clarke Carlisle: hard. It is, it, it is hard. Um, but it, it is kind of like a, an a, an acceptable or accepted byproduct of the industry I want to be in. You know, I, I see it as, it, it, it was, it was going to happen. If I'm gonna, if I'm gonna have this career I, in some guys or another. So, you know, my experience was quite extreme.
Um, But that's not that. If you'd have taken that away, if I'd have retired earlier 2010, in fact, if I'd have retired earlier, it would've made retirement harder. Because, um, the difficulty with retirement is that when you've been in this industry for 17 years, you are institutionalized. You are told when to get up, what to wear, where to go, what to do, what to eat, what to drink, uh, what, who to talk to, who not to talk to, what to say, how to say it, when to go to bed, day in, day out, day in, day out, A and, and then all of a sudden, overnight it's just gone.
Totally gone, you know, no, no purpose, no direction, no structure. And I made plans for that transition. You know, I got my degree in broadcasting. Uh, I set up a new job with I T V to stay in the industry, but I never did any work understanding my myself. Understanding, um, you know, my identity, because my identity had always been Clark Carlisle, the footballer, inextricably linked a and to take that away overnight just left a gaping chasm in my life because prior to that, everything about me was external validation and all around football, I, I didn't understand my value even as a father or a husband.
They, they didn't even play second fiddle, you know, they, they were just largely irrelevant. Everything that I did on the pitch determined how good I was as a human and my value to society. So, if for 17 years what you've done is me getting picked for the team means I'm a good son. Mm. Me winning a match means I'm a good father.
Me winning, you know, always winning promotion mean means I'm a great husband, you know, and then all of a sudden you take that away. Uh, I'm just totally bereft of direction of understanding of identity and, uh, no matter what I've gone into, I needed to understand those components. And having not done that, having not even been, you know, educated in how to do that.
I spent, you know, spent a number of years just in this internal rumination, not just dissecting, but berating myself. Mm. Or being without football. Mm. With no kind of objectivity or logic. You know, so to your question, Charles, it wouldn't matter if I'd have retired five months prior or five years prior, I would've still experienced that void of understanding who I am and what my value is, because I never knew it without football and I didn't have value without football because I haven't worked on that.
[00:47:35] Charles Commins: Clark, just to finish up, how would you sum up your time? As a 
[00:47:40] Clarke Carlisle: cobbles player, it was one of the most exciting parts of my football career because I felt valued to be there. And I felt that I could contribute. So, you know, to be able to contribute to what I thought were two really excellent achievements, a staying in the league from bottom of the league, and then getting to a playoff final.
They filmed me with a, with a huge sense of pride. So, yeah, it, it was exciting. I, I believe it was successful. And do you know what, Charles? If my body was working, I would've gone on for another year at the cobblers happily. Thank 
[00:48:20] Charles Commins: you so much for chatting with us, Clark. It's been fantastic to hear your story.
Thank you Danny, as well. Thank you. And thank you, uh, for listening. If you've enjoyed this episode, you'd like more, um, and, and you'd like to support us in making more of them, then you can join our pat patron at to me. Thank you and uh, we'll see you soon. Cheers. Fight.
[00:48:45] Clarke Carlisle: There's the cup, there's the pictures. You'll see on tomorrow's back pages, the cup as they're going through in division one. Bring them on because we deserve it. Anyone ever told you, Danny, you got a look of Frankie Boyle. 
[00:48:59] Danny Brothers: Oh, hundreds of people. Yeah. Yeah. Hundreds. Literally most people I meet, so original 
[00:49:06] Clarke Carlisle: Clark here.
Go start with that. It'd be a great podcast.


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