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Clarke hoping for a new Old Trafford hero
It is now so long since Saints last won a league match at Old Trafford that even the man who scored their winning goals on that occasion can’t remember them.
Colin Clarke was the hero for the club when they travelled to Manchester United in January 1988, netting twice as Chris Nicholl’s men beat Alex Ferguson’s side 2-0.
But, with more than 25 years having passed since that day, even Clarke’s own memory of his match-winning exploits has dimmed.
“I don’t remember either goal,” he admitted. “I couldn’t tell you anything about them.”
A quick check of the record books shows that Clarke gave Saints a seventh-minute lead, converting a Jimmy Case free-kick.
He then sealed the win after 74 minutes, hooking the ball over United keeper Chris Turner after his initial shot had been blocked.
“It was a great result, obviously, and a great place to go and play,” said Clarke.
“Any time you can get a result up there, you have done pretty well, as you can tell given that 25 years have now gone by.
“Let’s just hope you’re not wanting to speak to me again in another 25 years.”
While the distinction of being the last Saint to score a winner in a league match at Old Trafford is a fine one to possess, Clarke would at some stage soon like to pass the baton on.
“I would love to see it,” he said, of the prospect of a Saints victory this afternoon. “They’re one of the clubs I’m very fond of. I had a great time there and I want to see them do well.
“Three points could maybe put them up to the top of the table, so hopefully they will do it.”
Clarke, who now manages the Carolina RailHawks in the North American Soccer League, has been impressed with what he has witnessed from Saints this term.
“I’m delighted with how they are doing,” said the 50-year-old former Northern Ireland striker.
“They’re a good team. The way they play and pass the ball around, they’re good to watch.”
Clarke, who made 98 appearances and scored 39 goals for Saints from 1986 to 1988, believes his old side will still have their hands full this afternoon, despite United’s stuttering start to the season under new manager David Moyes.
“It’s a little bit of a transitional period for them,” he said. “It hasn’t gone the way they would have wanted it to since Fergie left, but they have got a lot of class players and they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.”
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