Changelings, Hair Triggers and Joe Clarke

Here’s another storming guest blog from Congy Red. We need to make this loan deal permanent! Prepare yourself for the finest opening paragraph in the history of literature….


The aim of this article is simple; to convince you, the reader that Joe Clarke is not what he appears to be. So, come inside my Cloak of Infallibility, don your underpants of gullibility (worn on the head) and walk along the path of exquisite learning with me, to enlightenment. Alternatively you could get your reading glasses.

Paul Warhurst was famous before he donned a Wrexham shirt. He was the most remarkable changeling this side of Middle Earth. An excellent centre-back for Sheffield Wednesday, he was asked to play up front by his then manager Trevor Francis due to a striker shortage. In short, he was superb, but don’t take my word for it, he was called up to play as a striker for England! This was a huge revelation at the time, leading journalists to ask the England boss what position he had actually called Warhurst up for. Taylor confirmed it was as a frontman.

We can probably have a long debate over who was Wrexham’s greatest changeling. Mere amateurs were Kevin Russell, and Martin Chalk, changing roles when the legs were going. A recent example was Nat Knight-Percival who made a fantastically successful move to centre-back, where I think most would say he became a more valuable player. My Wrexham King of the shape-shifters is Billy Ashcroft. He had a terrific career for us and later made a cracking job of central defender for Middlesbrough. I feel we may have a current player in our midst who has similar mysterious powers to become what he currently isn’t. You need more convincing? Then keep reading.

Players can be categorised in many ways, but for my model I will say that some have a reliable playing style and others have a ‘hair trigger’ approach. This isn’t about playing position, Andy Bishop’s style is precise, controlled and the results are reliable, that is he does what he sets out to do. The same can be said of Dean Keates, Kieran Durkin and Mel Pejic. A ‘hair trigger’ player whose technique is far less reliable, but nevertheless looks a world beater on occasion, is always trying to do what ‘might just work’  and give major reward. The best recent example I can think of is Jake Speight. I read on a Mansfield fansite before he joined Wrexham that he looked like a world beater some of the time. That’s what we got, his footwork was a dream and sometimes his deft touches got lost in the mud. Watch Joes Clarke’s goal at Alfreton last season on Youtube. If you’ve been following closely then my case is made.

All that is left for me to say is that I totally disagree with Mr Morrell’s assessment made early in Joe’s Wrexham career. He said he had limited skill, rubbish!, he has boundless skill, but his position, the mud, and ‘hair trigger’ style are masking that fact. Joe could move forward or back, but if he moves forward I think we might have the next chapter of a thrilling adventure. (You can now remove the pants/glasses)

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