Games between Wolves and Newcastle haven’t always finished 1-1.
There was New Year’s Day in 1990 of course, when Fog on the Tyne became Hair of the Dog on the Tyne as Steve Bull followed up one or two nightcaps with a four-goal salvo which downed the Magpies.
On home soil, five of the last seven meetings at Molineux have finished in a 1-1 stalemate, and the other two in Newcastle victories, taking us all the way back for the last Wolves win to a rip-roaring January evening in 2003.
That was the night that the famous old stadium fizzed under the floodlights, and Championship side Wolves defeated a star-studded Toon by the odd goal in five, emerging from a mini-slump to spark a spectacular run which took the team all the way to Cardiff and play-off glory.
It was also a night when a young 20-year-old defender from a small market town in Northern Ireland enjoyed his first taste of FA Cup action as a 50thminute substitute in what had already become a breakthrough season.
George Ndah had just nudged Wolves into a 3-2 lead when Mark Clyde stepped off the bench to replace the injured vastly experienced central defender Paul Butler.
Wolves were without a win in five, and had it all to do to preserve that advantage against a Newcastle team including the likes of Jermaine Jenas, Laurent Robert and Nolberto Solano.
Oh yes, and Alan Shearer and Craig Bellamy.
“I think we handled them quite well,” Clyde recalls with typical under-statement.
“Every time I played against Craig Bellamy I think he was surprised how quick I was.
“I remember making my debut for Northern Ireland against Wales and at one point he turned to me and told me that I was a ‘right pain in the a**e’ and I said, ‘that’s alright, that’s exactly what I am trying to be’.
“The night we won that cup game I remember him walking off and pointing to the Premier League badge which I thought was a bit disrespectful, especially after such a fantastic game of football.
“That was part of his make-up, but what a player he was, and that is why I think every time I was in a defence up against him the plan was to stifle him as much as possible.
“It certainly went well on that occasion so it did, and it was a brilliant win for Wolves.”
Clyde had enjoyed 14 successive starts in the Wolves line-up after breaking into the team, dropping to the bench for the previous league game against Derby on New Year’s Day as Butler returned to the starting eleven.
It was a suspension to Butler that had initially opened the door for Clyde to grab his first team chance – which he made the most of – leaving his more experienced counterpart and one of the key figures of that Wolves dressing room a mixture of genuine support and a determination to get himself back in!
“I remember the gaffer (Dave Jones) telling me that he was going to rest me,” Clyde recalls.
“I think that kind of meant that he didn’t want Butts to knock his door down anymore!
“Butts was great with me though – everyone knows he is a fierce competitor and is definitely not backwards in coming forwards.
“He doesn’t mince his words, but he was 100 per cent behind me and when I was in the team he was telling me to stay in there.
“I am sure two minutes later he was banging on the gaffer’s door telling him he wanted his place back but he always understood when we were doing well and was always behind us.”
That first spell in the Wolves team was part of what must have been one of the youngest – if not the youngest – central defensive pairings in the club’s history.
Having just returned from a successful month’s loan with Kidderminster Harriers, Clyde, then 19, joined 20-year-old Joleon Lescott for his senior debut on an intense Saturday evening away at Stoke, when he had otherwise expected to head back to Aggborough and extend his stay.
“At the start of that season I had already been playing in the reserves for a while and that had done what it needed to do for me – I needed first team experience,” Clyde explains.
“Managers always say they need you to have first team experience and, even though I was still quite young, that is the stage I had got to.
“Kidderminster had come in for me, and I remember talking to Chris Evans (Wolves Academy director) who told me it was a big step.
“He said I could go there and be fantastic and never look back, or I could go there and maybe struggle as it was my first experience of men’s first team football at a good level in League Two and might set me back.
“I had no qualms about it, I was going, and thank goodness everything went well and we got some great results and flew up the table.
“At the end of the month I was away with Northern Ireland Under-21s and expecting to go back to Kidderminster but instead I was called back to Wolves and told I was in the squad for the game at Stoke.
“Even then, I thought I might be on the bench but found out on the day of the game that I was actually starting.
“Saturday night, away at Stoke, live on TV in front of a big crowd, not too much pressure was there?”
Transfer the usual analogies about a cold Tuesday night in Stoke to a tinderbox of a Saturday evening and you wouldn’t be far off.
Two passionate fanbases with a very lively rivalry at the time and an equally intense need for points.
So much so that by the time Wolves scored the second of two late goals – Nathan Blake adding to Colin Cameron’s opener – the natives were growing extremely restless.
“I remember me and Matty (Murray) were celebrating that second goal and the fans started throwing seats onto the pitch and one wasn’t too far away from us,” says Clyde.
“They certainly weren’t happy!
“For us though it was a great game and for me, the perfect debut.
“Once the game started I felt o-k, it was getting to that first whistle that was the problem because that is when you are thinking about everything a bit too much.
“I mean we had some serious players in that team – Denis Irwin, Incey (Paul Ince), Alex Rae, Newts (Shaun Newton), Blakey – great players and big characters as well.
“Most of them were great with me, and Dave Jones was great with me too, although one or two did tell me not to make any ******* mistakes!
“I just sat quietly in the dressing room doing my own thing and to be honest the support was more important during the game when I would do something well and get a good reaction from the other lads and the fans.
“Everything went pretty well and you are also carried by adrenalin to the extent I got a nasty cut on my instep and it was only after the game that I took my sock off and realised I had a bit of a hole in my foot!”
Unfortunately however, more serious injury was to follow for Clyde that season, hampering any efforts to disrupt the Butler/Lescott partnership, and after Newcastle he would only make one more start and two appearances as a substitute.
And so, on that momentous Millennium Stadium afternoon four months later at Cardiff, Clyde was suited and booted as part of the Wolves group, but not the matchday squad, as promotion to the Premier League was finally achieved.
He had played his part though, in helping Wolves reach that point, on an incredible afternoon in front of a packed house of almost 70,000, all very much far cry from how his career had begun for Kidderminster in front of 2,676 away at Scunthorpe the previous September.
Far cry too from Clyde’s upbringing and background, born and brought up in Limavady in County Londonderry, a small town not far from the northern coast of Northern Ireland.
Handed the nickname ‘Bones’ by his friends due to being pretty much skin and bones growing up, that was a moniker that crossed the Irish Sea and reached Molineux thanks to the strong Irish contingent from both sides of the border within Wolves Academy at that time.
That opportunity to progress as had been illustrated perfectly by Robbie Keane a couple of years earlier played a strong factor in Clyde’s decision to opt for Wolves when, having been spotted by Evans playing in the Foyle Cup, he attracted a fair few admirers.
It wasn’t just Wolves battling for the young defender’s scholarship signature but also some far bigger fish at the time in Chelsea and the Old Firm pair of Celtic and Rangers.
“I think it’s always the case when you are that age that when one club shows a bit of interest in you all of a sudden a few others show their hand,” says Clyde.
“We had a lot of good conversations with Chris and came over for a trial and to look at the facilities and were really impressed.
“Other young players had gone through to the first team at Wolves, you could see the opportunity was there, whereas at some of the other clubs there was always the chance that they could far more easily go out and spend a few million quid to bring another player in.
“We went for Wolves, and for a year I would fly over on a Saturday morning, play a game on a Sunday morning and fly back home on the evening ready for school the next day.
“I loved it, it was certainly not a chore, it was exciting and the chance to follow my dreams of becoming a professional footballer.
“Then a few days after finishing my exams I was across full time for the scholarship in the Academy and from there, that was me, I never looked back.”
While some of the scholars suffered from homesickness Clyde settled well, initially in digs with a couple in Compton and then in Pendeford, with Morris and Maureen Dowling.
“They were brilliant people who treated me as one of their own and that made being away from home so much easier,” says Clyde.
“Morris was originally from Tipperary in Ireland so we were always having a laugh and a good craic which made a real difference.”
On the pitch Clyde was spurred on by the competition within the defensive ranks of the Academy, with so much young talent at the time battling to progress to the senior ranks.
“I was always very single-minded and committed and if I got my head into something that was it,” he recalls of those early days.
“I was either going to succeed or I was going to fail, and if I failed then there would be nobody to blame but myself.”
A cool customer who was seemingly unfazed by anything and everything thrown at him, Clyde’s quiet temperament at that time belied a fierce inner determination which always made him a force to be reckoned with.
That was why Jones trusted him and could rely on him, even as a teenager, and why Clyde was then able to thrive within a fearsome dressing room and enjoy a sizeable taste of the Premier League in the year which followed promotion.
On the very rare occasion that his calmness and composure did maybe get the better of him, Clyde was quickly pulled back into line.
“I remember in the Premier League we were away at Chelsea, and I did a Cruyff turn inside our 18-yard box,” he recalls.
“Did it come off? Well yes, but it probably wasn’t really the time or the place was it?
“Dave Jones told me that if I ever did that even once more then I wouldn’t ever play for him again.
“I was probably a bit of an over-confident wee 20-year-old and fully understand where he was coming from.
“I never did it again, let’s put it that way!”
Wolves were of course relegated that season, but Clyde made nine Premier League appearances, with that trip to Chelsea sandwiched either side of similar awaydays at Liverpool and Manchester City.
Welcome to the big time! Although, in Clyde’s case, with that same low maintenance and unflustered focus on his job, you really would never have known.
“When I was in there, playing regularly, I genuinely wasn’t thinking about which players or teams I was coming up against,” he insists.
“All I was thinking about was doing my best every single game to try and stay in the team and anything else was irrelevant.
“It is probably only now a few years on that I look back and think about who I came up against and think maybe I didn’t do too bad there after all!
“As for our own dressing room I did always stay as one of the quiet ones but when you remember some of the personalities and characters we had at the time, they didn’t really need anyone else piping up!”
Clyde made a fair few appearances under Glenn Hoddle the following season, continuing largely as a full back having moved across from the centre, as well as stepping up from his Under-21 honours with Northern Ireland to secure three senior caps.
His debut against Wales, which drew that frustration out of Bellamy, was a lively one ending in ten against nine and a 2-2 draw while his third and final cap came in a friendly against a Germany side including the likes of Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski.
By now however, injuries were starting to take their toll.
Knee and ankle problems were one thing but it was the early onset of arthritis which was the real issue, and after missing the entire 2005/06 season Clyde played the first three games of the Mick McCarthy era before sadly and painfully having to admit defeat.
There was to be a poignant end as well, Clyde walking around the pitch with physio Barry Holmes after having to come off during a Molineux defeat to Preston, knowing that his time was up.
“That was the point when I had come to the end of my tether,” says Clyde.
“I was still playing and playing o-k but I wasn’t getting to the point where I was ever happy with how things were.
“I was probably closer to Jody Craddock than anyone else during my time at Wolves and something that happened last night was something we were able to laugh about later on.
“He played a ball down the line and I got there and put a cross in but the keeper caught it and quickly threw it out to start an attack.
“Jody was screaming at me to get back and I just couldn’t – there was nothing there – and by the time I did he was raging.
“I just told him I needed to come off and at that point he knew things weren’t right and his face changed from an angry face to a ‘something is wrong’ face.
“I wandered around the back of the goal with Baz the physio and I told him I was done – I knew that this was it.
“I was taking about 12 tablets a day just to keep on top of the arthritis and we knew that was something that needed to stop at some point otherwise I was running the risk of some serious side effects in later life.
“Football is a brilliant sport to be involved in, and most players retire in their 30’s, but you don’t want it to be the cause of long lasting issues later on.
“For me, and Baz the physio, Steve Kemp who was also there at that time and the Doc (Matt Perry), there wasn’t really a decision to make because I was never going to take any risks.
“All three of them were great with me and we exhausted all options but I knew that night it was over, and a few months later I was officially retired.”
Clyde was just 24. Such a promising career at a dreadfully premature end. He had lived his dream – but now that dream was over.
Whilst there wasn’t perhaps a suddenness about retirement – in reality Clyde had known it was coming – his young age meant there hadn’t really been any real preparation for life after football, and that meant he was no stranger to the difficulties involved in acclimatising to normal life that so many ex-footballers experience after hanging up their boots.
“Football was pretty much all I had been involved in growing up and then full time from about 15 or 16 years of age,” Clyde explains.
“It is all I had lived and breathed, and even though I knew the end was coming, I still didn’t know what to do with myself.
“For maybe six months or so, I didn’t really do anything, apart from drowning my sorrows too much and, no two ways about it, going off the rails for a wee bit.
“Eventually it came to a point where I knew that couldn’t continue and I had to give myself a kick up the backside, forget about it and move on.
“Fortunately everything came together at the right time and I got myself back on the straight and narrow by doing some landscaping work with a guy I knew in Bridgnorth.
“It wasn’t easy for me, and I always knew I wasn’t going to get to 30, but it probably ended up being easier than somebody who has to stop and retire more suddenly than I did.”
There were however the small shoots of recovery and a potential return three years later when Clyde joined up with former Wolves Academy colleague Graham Ward who was playing at Worcester City.
Then manager Richard Dryden and assistant Carl Heeley were in need of a central defender.
Clyde was gradually hooked back in, but when he got the taste back to the extent that the odd sporadic appearance was turning into something more regular, it was once again time to call it a day.
“My wife Nic (Nicola) was asking me what I was doing as there were times I would get home and couldn’t walk and would have to go up the stairs on my backside,” he reveals.
“I hadn’t done anything for about three years, and playing again brought back that excitement especially when I had no reaction at the start, but over a period of time the problems come back and your body tells you that you have had your fun now – enough is enough!”
Clyde did then enjoy his first coaching experience at Worcester, working as assistant to Heeley after Dryden moved on, and that laid the foundations for him to then manage Bridgnorth Town for five years, with plenty of success.
He masterminded a club record seventh place finish in the Midland Alliance and, after the club reformed as AFC Bridgnorth and was demoted two divisions, led them to the West Midlands League Division One title and two subsequent runners-up finishes in the Premier.
Eventually though, Clyde took the decision to step away from the helm and return back home to Limavady not only with his family but also the express intention of moving away for football once and for all.
Not for long!
The lure of managing Limavady United in the NIFL Premier Intermediate League was to prove too much and then, when the Chairman left, he took on that role too.
But, having learned from his time at Bridgnorth, Clyde knew he wouldn’t be able to do both jobs effectively, and so having stepped up to the Board, he appointed his assistant Lee Guy as team manager.
“It’s all come full circle and I’ve been chairman for about a year and it has been really enjoyable,” he explains.
“We’ve made a lot of changes and things are looking good and moving in the right direction.
“The role involves dealing with a lot of things both football and non-football but it’s all geared to make Limavady United better and that is the main thing.
“There are about ten of us involved in the overall running of the club and about six of those are at the club most of the time and that makes things a lot easier.
“As for the coaching I do miss it from time to time, but I am able to put everything into being the chairman, sit back and watch the games knowing we are doing something productive.”
Also working full-time in a sales role at Eglinton Timber Products in Limavady, life certainly remains very busy for Clyde, but there is always the chance to relax with the family.
Although with four sons and a stepdaughter, and wife Nicola expecting another boy in November, maybe there isn’t too much relaxation, although there are clearly no regrets at the decision taken several years ago to move back home.
“To be honest I sometimes think we should have come back sooner,” says Clyde.
“Being away for so long I now really appreciate how nice this area is and how I probably didn’t completely realise what I had around me when I was young.
“The North coast is beautiful and with a ten minute drive we are on the beach, so it’s a lovely place for the kids to grow up.”
And growing up too without any real mementos or trappings from Dad’s previous career as a footballer.
Photographs, shirts, medals? Nowhere to be seen.
“I did the Wolf Whistle podcast with Jase (Jason Guy) last year and he couldn’t believe that I don’t have a load of framed shirts on my wall or that I don’t even have a play-off winners medal from 2003,” Clyde explains.
“Obviously I didn’t play on the day and there weren’t enough medals to go around and I think we were supposed to get sent some more but that never arrived – not for me, anyway.
“If I had got one, it would probably just be in a box in a draw or in the garage because I have very little memorabilia around the house.
“That’s just me I suppose – that was then and this is now – and although I still speak to a few of the lads I never went back to Wolves for a game.
“I would always have been thinking that I should still be out there playing, but I guess that would be different now given that I am 38 and a few pounds heavier with a bit less hair!”
As Wolves prepare to welcome Newcastle, and try and recreate one of the highlights of Clyde’s Molineux career, it begs the question of just how he regards those days in gold which were launched almost two decades ago.
Frustration and disappointment that it came to such a premature end, or pride and delight that he achieved it in the first place?
“The way I look at that question is that I know everybody would say I was very young when I had to retire,” Clyde replies.
“But I also achieved a hell of a lot and what so many people can only dream of and didn’t have the opportunity to do even if they were fortunate to get to a club in England.
“I played in the Premier League, and for my country, and while there is disappointment I had to retire so young, I would never take that record for granted.
“We could be chatting now with me having played 300, 400, 500 games and picked up 70 or so caps for Northern Ireland, but we’re not.
“But I am very happy with my achievements and experiences which nobody can ever take away from me and that is how I look at it rather than anything too negative.”
Clyde may not have the medals, or the memorabilia associated with such a humble yet impressive breakthrough at Molineux – but one thing he will always have, are the memories.