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Club News

Double-Sided: Mansfield Town

31 March 2016

We profile three players who have worn the colours of both Pools and weekend opponents Mansfield Town.

Billy Ayre
After starting out in non-league with the likes of Crook Town and Bishop Auckland, Ayre began work as a teacher whilst playing for Scarborough where he won Fans’ Player of the Year in 1977.

That form earned him a move to Pools at the end of the season and he went on to be just as popular with supporters at The Vic, playing every game and top scoring in his first season with the Club.

That won him the Fans’ Player of the Year award and their affection for a committed performer who went on to make 155 appearances and score 28 goals lived on when he was voted Player of the 1970s at our Centenary Dinner in 2008.

After a stint at Halifax Town, Ayre joined Mansfield Town in 1982 where he scored on his debut and went on to make 67 league appearance for The Stags before turning to management with Halifax, Blackpool, Scarborough, Southport and Cardiff City.

Sadly, Ayre died from cancer just a month short of his 50th birthday in April 2002.

Darrell Clarke
When Tommy Miller left Pools for Ipswich Town in the summer of 2001, Chris Turner quickly ear-marked Mansfield Town star Darrell Clarke as a potential replacement.

The attacking midfielder had come through the ranks with The Stags and established himself as a regular in the First Team and a reliable source of goals.

Injury curtailed the early part of his career at The Vic but he returned to play a key role in the Club’s promotion in 2002/03 and was also a regular as Pools stabilised in the third tier the following year.

Clarke was utilised for much of his time at Pools on the right wing but he still chipped in with some important goals, including a memorable hat-trick in the 7-1 thrashing of Swansea City in April 2002.

A lively and hugely-popular character off the pitch, Clarke is also blessed with a huge drive and unflappable work ethic which has helped him make a successful transition in to management. 

After cutting his teeth in non-league with Salisbury he led Bristol Rovers back to the Football League at the first time of asking last term and is in with a chance of securing a second successive promotion this term. 

Richard Barker
The front man was brought to Victoria Park by Danny Wilson in January 2007 and charged with the responsibility of finding the goals to fire the Club to promotion – and how he delivered.

‘Barks’ hit the net nine times in just eighteen starts to help Pools to second spot in League Two and the experienced lower league marksman struck 16 goals the following season too.

He made 73 appearances for Pools in total and became a hugely popular player at The Vic, for his whole-hearted and committed style as well as his 27 goals.

Ironically, Barker had played against Pools in his last game for Mansfield Town before sealing his much-mooted move to The Vic – he’d spent just over two years with The Stags during which he scored 48 goals in 106 appearances.

The former Sheffield Wednesday trainee retired in 2009 and has since managed Bury, Crawley Town and Portsmouth before being appointed Assistant Manager of MK Dons in April 2014.

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