Tipton, Staffordshire born centre forward Isaac “Ike” Clarke began his football career with Coseley Juniors and played for Handsworth League club Toll End Wesley in 1936 before signing as a professional for West Bromwich Albion in January 1937, making his Football League debut at Charlton Athletic in September 1937 and scoring his first goal on his home debut in a win over Middlesbrough two days later. Although Albion were relegated at the end of his breakthrough season, Clarke scored 15 goals in their 1938-39 campaign, but the outbreak of the Second World War severely impacted his career, although he returned to The Hawthorns after the War and to goalscoring form, scoring 19 goals in The Baggies’ first peacetime season including 4 goals in a 7-2 win at Newport County in September 1946 and all three as Albion beat Bury 3-0 in April 1947, finishing as the club’s second top scorer behind Davy Walsh.
Clarke moved to First Division club Portsmouth in November 1947 after 43 goals in 117 appearances for West Bromwich Albion. The Fratton Park faithful initially weren’t very impressed that £7,000 had been spent on a striker already in his thirties from a lower division. Clarke was to win them over, and become one of the most popular players in the side. He was a big brave centre forward in the classic British tradition, but also had a good footballing brain and some skill, and linked up what was the formidable forward line that Pompey boasted at that time.
He stayed at Portsmouth for six years, and was an important part of the team that won back-to-back League Championships in 1948-49 and 1949-50. It was Clarke’s winner in a 2-1 victory against Bolton Wanderers on 23rd April 1949 that clinched the points that took Pompey to their first ever League title. The following season, Clarke’s contribution was greater in Pompey’s need to defend the title, he played in 37 games and finished top scorer with 17 goals. He also played in their drawn FA Charity Shield match with Wolves in October 1949. Clarke went on to serve Pompey sporadically after the 1950 year end and in all he clocked up 130 appearances for Pompey, scoring 62 goals.
In 1953 Clarke gave up playing full time football at the age of 38 and looked for his first job in management. Yeovil Town in the Southern League were advertising for a new manager, The Supporters Club offered to help with the wages of the new appointee, and a tied house was thrown in. On 10th May 1953 Clarke became The Glover’s fourth manager since the War. His first season in charge ended with Yeovil finishing third in the Southern League and Clarke himself made 48 appearances scoring 20 goals. The next season Clarke took Yeovil to the Southern League Championship and Southern League cup double. Although Clarke had led Yeovil to their most successful season in terms of trophies just four seasons earlier, Clarke was relieved of his managerial duties at the end of the 1956-57 season.
After Yeovil Town Clarke moved to Kent. He took over the helm at Sittingbourne and led them to the Kent League title, Kent League Division One Cup, Kent Senior Cup and the Thames & Medway Combination League Championship. He took Sittingbourne into the Southern League First Division in 1959-60 and they missed out on promotion on goal average and the same fate awaited them the following season, again missing out on promotion to the Premier Division on goal average. He later took charge of Canterbury City before retiring.