I’ve titled this blog ‘Allan Clarke’s Sock Tags’ for no other reason than I’m going to write about Allan Clarke’s sock tags! If I’d have written about Peter Lorimer’s sock tags, I’d have titled it ‘Peter Lorimer’s Sock Tags’. If I’d have written about Billy Bremner’s sock tags, I’d have titled it …………. Alright, alright you’ve got it!………. Blimey, no need to shout!
Leeds Utd striker Clarke or Sniffer, as he was nicknamed for his ability to sniff out a goal from nothing, was my boyhood hero.
Like all football mad youngsters, I’d try mimic his every move, as a kid. That’s me a kid not Allan Clarke. I had no idea what Allan Clarke was like as a kid, so I couldn’t mimic his moves then, even if I wanted to!
I may not have wanted to copy him as a child. After all, he might have done terrible things as a kid, like burning down his school or supporting a team from the red side of Manchester!
One of the things I did copy was wearing blue sock tags with a white number 8 emblazoned in the centre, like my idol! I’ve written before of mimicking his run with sleeves pulled over my hands, however, as you might not have read that particular blog, or nodded off, I thought I’d reiterate the tale.
Leeds started wearing the sock tags as a novelty kit item, as part of a marketing strategy, in a bid to endear themselves to the footballing public. It was hoped, in the early/mid 1970’s, that changing the club emblem to the ‘smiley’ badge and donning sock tags, the team would make strides towards ridding themselves of the ‘dirty Leeds’ label.
I’m no advertising copyrighter, but I would have thought the best strategy for ridding themselves of the ‘dirty Leeds’ tag would have been to stop kicking opponents up a height! By the way, that’s a tongue in cheek observation from a Leeds fan playing devil’s advocate.
Another PR exercise the club carried out was around 1981, when concerns around disturbances in the ground, led to players throwing ‘Hand of Peace’ wristbands into the crowd before the match.
I was at the first game this exercise took place. I can recall standing on the Kop when an aging Peter Lorimer, in his second spell at the club, threw his wristband fairly close to me pre-kick off.
When I say pre-kick off, I allude to fans scrapping for Lorimer’s wrist band, not the commencement of the match. The irony of fans fighting over ‘Hand of Peace’ wrist bands was not lost on me!
I couldn’t find a picture online of the 1980’s ‘Hand of Peace’ wrist bands, so you’ll have to make do with this one of Rod Hull’s emu!
Changing subject somewhat, on a recent college course I enrolled upon, we mature students were all asked to introduce themselves by relaying an unusual life experience. When it came to the turn of the balding lad sat beside me, he informed everyone that was interested (which wasn’t many by the look of it!) that at the age of 13 he’d had a Bar Mitzvah.
Before moving on to another student, the lecturer enquired “What’s so strange about that?!” To which baldy responded “I’m not Jewish!”
The lecturer looked deeply puzzled and countered his response with “Well why did your parents have a Bar Mitzvah for you if your not Jewish?!”
The bald guy, looking sheepish, replied “Because my mother didn’t want me and my siblings to miss out on things!……. I was lucky! My brother was given malaria for his 13th birthday!”
I think the lecturer seemed to think the bald guy was being mischievous at this point, so swiftly moved on to me. I informed my fellow students that I’d received malaria for my 13th birthday!
The lecturer, with a look of disbelief, asked “Are you that bald chaps brother?!” To which I replied “No, I’m not Jewish!”
“He’s not!” responded the lecturer, who was steadily losing patience and now displaying a stressed red hue on his face!
“Oh!” I exclaimed, before turning to the bald guy and asking him “Are you called Ian Strachan, born in Leeds, raised in Gateshead, with an elder brother called Gary?!”
The bald guy smiled and advised “Yes!” With that response, I turned back to the lecturer and informed him “Actually, yes he is my brother!”
The moral of the story is that not all lies are bad, especially if you don’t mind being thrown off the college course you’ve recently enrolled on!
Allan Clarke with his sleeves pulled down and number 8 sock tags