Clive

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Clive

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:57 pm

When I travel to other venues, people have some vague sense that Portland Soccer is a little different. I often blather incoherently about Clive and how he formed the culture of the program.

A former player and Pilot faithful Took the trouble to transcribe a Biography of Clive Charles that's in a book on the all the black players ever to play for West Ham. In the past few years there have been several campaigns on curbing racism in sport in Europe, and this book is a part of that campaign. Clive touches on his thoughts on racism and his experiences with it, a bit about growing up and his playing experiences, some. bits about his philosophy of coaching and his life in the US.

The author (or compiler, as it were) is an English fellow who misses some of the geography bits (the first paragraph where he says he contacted Clive at his home in Maine), but appears to have tape recorded Clive's recollections, which is the italicized part.

The transcribed piece was sent to me in four parts, and that's how I'll send it to you folks. The person who transcribed it and I both hope you enjoy it.


Last edited by on Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:00 pm; edited 1 time in total

Geezaldinho
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Clive part 1

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:00 pm

THE BLACK HAMMERS Ė The voice of West Ham Unitedís Ebony Heroes
By Brian Belton

From inside jacket: West Ham United Ė a legendary London team, with an army of passionate supporters. Much has been written about the club, the fans, the players, the triumphs and the turmoil. Yet no book has looked back at the history of the club from such a unique and fascinating perspective as this one Ė a retrospective that focuses on the black players at the Hammers, from the pioneers of the 1960s to the members of the current squad, including captain Nigel Reo-Coker.
For the first half of its existence, West Ham Football Club had been an entirely white enterprise. Then, in the early 1960s, club history was made as John Charles Ė the first ĎBlack Hammerí Ė took the field at Upton Park [This is Cliveís older brother]. His appearance marked the beginning of the end of the notion of a Ďone colour clubí and represented the start of a cultural integration within both the special community of football and the wider arena of sport as a whole.
The arrival of Bermudian Clyde Best in 1969, with his brave and bold striking style, had a huge impact on the club and its fans. Increased television coverage meant that his magnificent skills and strength were seen by a new audience of young black fans who had not witnessed anything quite like him before. Here, at last, was a beach of hope and possibility for a new footballing era.
A 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur on 1 April 1973 marked another milestone for the club as three black players ran out to represent the cockney Hammers: alongside Clyde Best were Nigerian Ade Coker and East Londoner Clive Charles. As their stories testify, these three men remember their time at the Boleyn Ground with affection and warmth and they went on to become role models for many aspiring young black players.
This groundbreaking book is as fascinating as it is informative. By drawing on the memories of those who were there as history was made Ė and the thoughts of those who are still making it Ė it provides an invaluable insight into this crucial period in club history. Written by a lifelong West Ham supporter, it is an absolute must read for any fan.



Clive Michael Charles
HAMMERS DEBUT: 21/3/73
ďI just didnít think of myself as a black soccer player.Ē


Many European migrated to the USA in the early 1970s, but Clive Charles was one of the few who stayed after the financial collapse of soccer in North American in the 1980s. He helped to rebuild the structure of the game in the USA from the grass roots and worked with many players who went on to play for the national teams of Canada, Mexico and the United States, and populate the professional ranks in America and Europe and Asia. He also played a great part in creating the womenís US soccer team that became the most successful female side the world has ever known.
Those Clive worked with won Olympic gold medals, and were victorious in World Cup football; many of these people, touched by Cliveís example, went on to become teachers and coaches themselves.
Clive can be considered one of the real pioneers and champions of the modern game in America. His biography is a Ďrags to richesí story if ever there was one.
I first contacted Clive at his home in Maine, USA.

I played my first game for the West Ham first team in 21 March 1972. It was a 1-1 draw at Highfield Road. It was on the same night as Frank Lampard [Senior] played for England against Yugoslavia, thatís why I got a game. I was lucky enough to help create the goal that gave West Ham the draw. I got three more League games that season.
I was in the team that played Tottenham Hotspur, that was 1 April í72 ĖApril Foolís Day! [laughs] That was the first time three black players had played on the same side in the First Division. But probably more significant for us, after Kevin Lock came on as substitute for Johnny Ayris, Kevin laid on Ade Cokerís goal. The average age of the 11 players on the field was just 21.
I was born in Bow, East London, on 3 October 1951 and went straight to West Ham from school, having been associated with the club from the age of 12. West Ham was always my club. My school days were spent in Canning Town. My first real coach was John Lyall at West Ham. He was a wonderful teacher. He looked at the game intelligently and had a way of reading people. He always did what he saw as right for a player. I admired him for that and took a lot of his ways into my own coaching. He had a lot of patience but the one thing he didnít like was people whoíd suck up to him.
I was good at cricket. I played for Newham and London Boys, but it was something I played in the summer, it was never going to compete with football. I was approached by some people from Essex to go down to Chelmsford, but I wasnít ever going to take it up. I kind of knew my future would be football.
I was the last of nine children. John was the next eldest and seven years older than me. I wouldnít say the family was poor, not compared to some others around us. We never went short of anything that mattered, but I suppose we didnít want a lot. But yeah, compared to some we didnít have much in the way of material things and you had to work hard to get by in the East End at that time. You had to keep going. As you know, coming from the area yourself, Plaistow, Canning Town and that district have always been thought of as deprived areas. Some people had a hard time of it and, yes, life was never easy there, but we had a lot of fun as well.
When I was still living in my family home in Canning Town, Clyde [Best] lived with us, so he was like a brother. Iím still close to my family back in London, John, my brother, his wife Carol and their kids and grandkids. My mum, 50 years ago in Canning Town, could never have dreamed that her sons and grandchildren would have achieved so much.
My brother John did a good job of not spending any time with me [laughs]. But that probably helped. It allowed me to develop my own style. I was a totally different player to John. He was a hard, tough tackling player. I was more of a footballer. I liked to get forward on the overlap. As such it wasnít too long before I attracted the interest of the England Youth set-up. I got four Youth caps. Getting into the England Youth side showed that I was good in my own right. It wasnít just about my brother being in the team. We never actually played together for the first team for West Ham, but we did play in the same Football Combination side for most the 1970-71 season. I was potentially on par with most of the people who could play at left-back at Upton Park, it was just that they had become established before I matured. Like a lot of things in life you have to make the most of what youíve got.
I signed pro forms in 1968. By the time I broke into the first-team squad I was a creative left-back, one of the forerunners of todayís wingbacks. I was close to Frank Lampard. Frank took me under his wing a bit when I came to West Ham. Like me he had been at Star Lane school and was in the fourth year at Pretoria when I was a first year.

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Clive part 2

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:12 pm

I was understudying McDowell and Lampard, two contenders for the English international defence. Thereís a time when itís right for you to come into the first team, a moment when you can blossom. Miss that and it gets harder to make your mark. John [McDowell] was ready to play and I didnít get a chance to establish myself, but thatís the way things go in football. Today, at clubs like West Ham, the likes of Frank Lampard and Bill [Bonds] would maybe move on to bigger clubs, clearing the way for younger players to develop, but then players stayed with clubs longer and, unless a young player matured really early, they had to go down a division or two to get regular games, but I canít complain. Itís a privilege to do something you love for a living.
Iíve never forgotten my roots and I have fond memories of being at Upton Park. I was friendly with Paul Grotier, Tony Carr and Patsy Holland, we were all in the same youth team together. I was with West Ham while Bobby Moore was club captain. Bobby was by far and away the best player I ever played with. No one was even near his class. He was a good passer, but was average at everything else, but put that together with a unique footballing brain and you got something else.
I wish I had been more dedicated as a player. I always trained hard, and worked at my game, but we didnít earn much more than a dust man in my day. I was lucky though. I played against Bobby Charlton, the great Manchester United and Leeds sides Ė some good teams.
I played 14 times for the West Ham first team, but I only ever got one clear opportunity to break into the side. It was in the first game of the 1973-74 season. The first game I got in my own right, on the strength of my own form, not standing in for someone else. It was against Newcastle at Upton Park [25 August 1973]. Frank Lampard was playing at right back and John McDowell had been dropped. It was my chance to stake a claim for a regular place. Iíd never had a bad game for West ham, but we lost that game 1-2 and I had a stinker [laughs].
I didnít really know Ron Greenwood; I was a bit young, he was a bit aloof. I learned a lot from him though, but I learned most from John Lyall. Ron was a great coach, Iím not so sure about him as a manager though. Not a lot of people got close to Ron. I suppose I was a bit intimidated by him. John Lyall was the first one to make sense. He had something to say. He thought about the game and talked about it in an intelligent way. He articulated his idea.
Everyone was always fair at West Ham. I never experienced any racism at Upton Park. I only really came across it in once game against Manchester United. Ron Greenwood had the balls to take me, Ade Coker and Clyde to Old Trafford. Although Ade didnít play, we took some stick that day. I didnít see myself as paving the way for others when I was playing, but I suppose we must have been. I just didnít think of myself as a black soccer player. I was just earning a living.
I donít see too many black managers. But itís a tight-knit circle anyway, even in terms of whites. Itís the same names that get mentioned every time thereís a top job going. Itís the same in the States in grid iron and basketball. If Harry or George Graham got the sack at one club, theyíd move on to another. Itís a bit of a closed shop. As far as West Ham being a racist club, I can only say that they took me on and I think Ron Greenwood was the first Division One manager to play three black players in the same team. Jimmy Andrews, a former West Ham man, took me to Cardiff and Frank OíFarrell, who had also been at Upton Park, made me club captain at Ninian Park. That was the first time I really thought about the fact that I was a black player. The local newspapers made a big thing about me being the first black player to captain a League side. Until that point I had thought about myself purely as a footballer, rather than a black footballer.
Yes, problems with race are always a factor and they shouldnít be, but there is a bit of a bandwagon and one or two people make a living out of promoting anti-racism, so it is in their interests to look for and find racism, and, donít get me wrong, itís there. It goes deeper than that. People say racism is about ignorance, and that might be true, but itís more about fear. When I was in Canning Town as a kid we didnít get any noticeable racism, because everyone was more or less on the same level; no one had much of anything [laughs]. Itís when you think you have something to lose to a group of people that you start to dislike that group. Thatís the bottom line. So if you are afraid of a group and they happen to be black you might express that fear and actually be racist. But if they were just a different religion you would fear them just as much and discriminate against them just as much. So if you want to get rid of that sort of thing youíve got to get rid of the fear. And thatís not so easy. You can say Ďdonít be afraidí but that is not going to stop anyoneís fear. That wonít make them feel less insecure about themselves.
You read some stuff that talks about how bad it was or is, but thatís the thing to say now; they canít say anything else really. Just like years ago they said nothing, often the same people, that was the thing then, you didnít say anything Ďcause it was seen as an expected thing. So the people who are saying Ďthis is badí or Ďthat was badí, you donít know what they are actually thinking, all you know is that they are saying what they have to say now. Like you are right stop people shouting out Ďyou black this or thatí, but just because you have stopped them shouting it out, expressing it, it donít mean they are OK with race. I suppose it is much harder now to find out who is racist, as anyone who was going to say anything has been educated just not to say it. That stops people being offended, but beyond that, who knows? That has to be done, but it goes deeper than just doing that. Can you make it so that no one ever gets offended about anything? I suppose if you did that would have a cost.
That defeat against Newcastle was to be my last game for West Ham. I didnít want to leave Upton Park, but I couldnít get in the first team. I had to think of the future; I got married in í73 to Clarena and we had a family on the way. She was an air hostess. The wedding took place in London but we had met while I was on loan to Montreal Olympics in NASL [1971-72] nearly three years earlier. I enjoyed the experience.
I asked Ron Greenwood for a transfer and went to Cardiff, at first on loan. They were in relegation trouble. I played in the last eight games of the season. I signed for them in March í74. I played just a hundred games there, 75 League matches, in three years, scoring five goals.
Don Megson, who had been at Bristol Rovers, got the coaching job at Portland and asked me to come over. Everybody was going at the time. It was the best thing I ever did. Clyde [Best] was already playing there of course.

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Clive part 3

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:17 pm

I was with the Timbers from 1978 to 1981. Played around 70 games. In 1982 I was with Montreal. I played for Pittsburgh Spirit in the Major Indoor Soccer League and Los Angeles Lazers in í82. I went into coaching and just went from strength to strength. When I was playing for West Ham I was coaching in schools. Iím able to get information over to people in a way that seems to make sense to them and I enjoy that. I am not so much result-oriented as teaching-orientated. If it becomes all about winning, all you get is frustrated when you lose. I canít say results were secondary, but they were kind of linked up with everything else. I think you always look to the next game Ė how are we going to make it better, not perfect, but nearer perfect? I get a lot out of getting players to improve their game but also develop as people. I think the two things can be connected.
Living and working in America has made me a better coach. I think if Iíd have stayed in England Iíd probably have been quite restricted in what I could have learned. For every John Lyall there were a dozen who really didnít have much idea was coaching was about, and in the 70s no one in the English game was prepared to learn from other sports or the way things were done in South America or Europe. I know that is changing now, but, even at this time, the English game is a bit inward looking. In the United States you sort of get a bigger picture. If I sat down and chatted to people I played with in England and talked to them about coaching they probably wouldnít understand what I was talking about. Harry Redknapp would have no idea, and he played in the US for a bit. Thatís not having a go at him, it is just the environment heís in Öwhen I was assistant manager with the US World Cup team I told him about a good player we had; he said to me, ĎYouíve been away a long time. Things have changed.í We had just played Brazil and Argentina!
In England it is getting to be a case of buy, buy, buy and, if you get one out of three or four right, thatís OK. You can always sell the ones that didnít work, if not for what you paid for them. Itís all a bit frantic, almost panicky at times. Players come and go in what seems like no time and there is no time to establish any kind of identity with a club. So you end up with three or four clubs dominating things and then about a dozen or so clubs with nothing to choose between them, as all the players are at about the same level; good enough to be where they are but not good enough to be playing for the very top clubs. Look at the game in England now and almost any team of about 15 could end up in fourth or fifth place in the League by the end of the season. That, up to a point, is good, but there is practically no chance of the same clubs winning the League or even a major trophy. So success is finishing 10th! Then, when the European or World Cup comes along, everyone thinks England are going to win it. But if you are brought up on the idea that coming in 10th is good, how are you in the right frame of mind to actually win?
Winning is not everything, in fact it is just something, but the ambition, the want to do as well as you can is important, and that has to be based on an idea of what real success is. Young fans, young players who turn out for their schools, can take that sort of thing into their everyday lives. Why should anyone be satisfied by second best? Again, there is nothing wrong with coming in second, but that shouldnít stop you from trying to be first or even a better second.
I wouldnít have had the opportunity to coach women in England, certainly not to the highest standard, and coaching women has taught me patience and as such made me a better coach. You have to be ready to learn things from your players to be the best possible coach. There comes a point when things are going really well when you are learning as much from each other and it isnít just one way. Iím not sure many coaches in England have a chance to get to that point. Probably there are too many demands to produce performances overnight. But you can only teach a player so much, after that your job as a coach is learning as much as you can about them; how you can put them in a place where they can be the best they can be and in a position that is most useful to the team. That is about collaboration, working together and that of course takes trust. Trust is something given and you are honoured when it is given. But to get trust you have to give it. I think that is kind of hard in the game in England right now. Thatís a shame because without trust there can be no respect Ė so fear and threat take over and eventually that gets destructive. Where I coach, Portland University, weíve been lucky to have some good people on the staff and some good people playing. Together weíve managed to build something bigger than a football programme. It is a bit like West Ham used to be, thereís a family atmosphere and people feel a loyalty to the place and each other. That goes beyond football really. In the end that is the biggest thing any sport can do Ė become a source of something that endures throughout your life.
Iíve coached at Portland University and American national squads, and being with West Ham has a lot to do with that. I think if you learn from your experiences in the game itís all good. Not getting into the side might be seen, over a broader view of things, as being as good for me than say if I have gotten a consistent place in the first team. If you want you can learn as much from the knock-backs as anything else. In fact, I think we learn much more from having to do what is hard. Thatís what I think a coach can do Ė help players see the wider implications of what is happening to them because of their involvement with the team. That way football can help you live your life and is not just an end in itself.
Unlike some other sports your place in a soccer squad is reliant on the decisions of others; you can do so much, do your best and so on, but at the end of the day you have to learn to manage the best you can with the cards you are dealt. If you can do that, make the most of whatever it is youíre given, then you must be successful. At West Ham John Lyall and Bobby Moore showed me that you can makes something out of nothing; how much more can you do with a bit more than nothing. Bob had not very much other than a good footballing brain, but look how he used it!
A difficulty young people have today, not just young people maybe, is that they always seem to need or want more. It seems harder to make the most of any little opportunity. A place in the side is not enough, it has to be a guarantee of a place. The reality of course is that we mostly just get the one chance and it is up to no one but us to make the most of it. You miss a chance on goal, no one is going to say, ĎShame, why donít you have another pop?í The next chance you get it will be up to you to make the best of. I think it is the job of a coach to teach this sort of thing. Sport gives opportunities to learn about this stuff in a very real way. We do that in Portland and I know it works. Itís not that young people are just Ďbadí or Ďspoiledí, thatís too easy, although some undoubtedly are, but in the main itís because they havenít had the chance to learn the lessons. We have to learn these things by experience Ė no one can just be told and then get it. Itís like saying ĎThere arenít enough black managersí and that Ďsomeone should do something about ití. Sure Ďtheyí should, but you canít wait for Ďthemí to help you, you might wait forever! You should do something about it!
Whatís the good of being given something just because of the fact that you Ďare somethingí? A woman, black? That is just as racist as not being given something because you are black. If you want something youíve got to go out and get it, thatís a rule of life, no matter what or who you are. You canít expect to be given chances, youíve got to make the world give you a chance. Thereís plenty of examples, Ďrole modelsí, of people doing just that, so itís not just a case of saying itís OK for me to say that.

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Clive part 4

Post by Geezaldinho on Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:25 pm

The best thing to come out of my coaching in the US is the FC Portland youth club. Iím proud of that because of the successes of the players that came out of that.
Portland is now my home. I love it here. My kids are Americans. My son, Michael, heís a golf pro. My daughter Sarah studied for her Masters degree at Oregon State University. She played in defence for Portland in the Collegiate First Division [a very good standard] from í94 to í97.
Itís a melting pot here. After turning out for Portland most of the players go on to become pros. I had three girls from my Portland womenís side in the US Womenís World Cup-winning team. They can earn between $0.5m and $1.5m a year here. Our women get bigger crowds than most lower-division matches and some as good as some of the better clubs in England.
Iíve been offered more money and an opportunity to coach in MLS. Iíve had chances to coach at bigger schools and I canít say I wasnít tempted because it meant a bigger office, prestige, better facilities and a much bigger budget. But I didnít really want to leave. I think itís easier to leave a place that was already established when you went there. But, after building the place yourself, itís tough to leave. It is a good place for me to be and give a little back. I owe a lot to the game, everything really. I will never be able to repay what itís given me, but Portland has been a good place to give what I can.


Clive always remained true to his West Ham roots as was made obvious when he was asked how the US 2000 Olympic team that he took charge of would place. His answer was short and clear:

ĎThe US is going to play an attacking, entertaining style of soccer.'

In the interim Clive successfully guided the Americans through the qualification games to the 1998 World Cup finals in France.
In 2000 America got to the Olympic semi-final where they met Spain. The US did well to hold the score to 2-1 until three minutes from time when Spain made it 3-1. The US must have taken a lot out of the Spanish as they were beaten by Cameroon in the final.
The US soccerteers looked to be at a low ebb in the bronze-medal match. It seems their morale had been hit and this put them at a psychological and physical disadvantage. They were defeated 2-0 by Chile. This was a disappointing conclusion to a great display by the US. Charles and his team had good reason to walk away from the Olympics proud of what they had achieved, and that was, by far and away, Americaís best Olympics soccer tournament ever, and the most notable display by a US menís soccer team in history.
Clive found out he had prostate cancer in 11 August 2000, just before departing for the Sydney Olympic Games with the US Under-23 team. He went home that day and told his family and together experience the kind of numbness commonly felt by families on receiving such information. But, for Clive, Australia provided him as he said Ďwith another focusí and this helped.
Following the success of the Portland Women in 2002, Charles was invited, with the team, to the White House by President George Bush. Cliveís response was typically disarming: ĎItíll be the Queen of England asking us to Buckingham Palace next!í
On Tuesday, 26 August, surrounded by family, at his home in North West Portland, Oregon, Clive Charles passed away at the age of 51. He was a distinguished player and a great coach. He is just one of three former Hammers to take control of national football teams; Clyde Best and Bobby Gould are the others, but his achievements at Olympic and World Cup level were exceptional. Clive was a brilliant teacher and noble human being.

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