Mauchline, Ayrshire born outside right Willie Clarke, sometimes known as “Darky” and of mixed race parentage, began his football career with Glasgow Benburb in 1895 and played for Crown Athletic in 1896 before joining Scottish League club Third Lanark in June 1897. He had spells with Arthurlie from September 1898 where he was a member of their side that lost the Qualifying Cup Final 4-1 to East Stirlingshire at Hampden Park in December 1898 and played for East Stirlingshire from August 1899 before coming south to join Southern League club Bristol Rovers in August 1900. After 7 goals in 22 appearances for The Pirates including a hat trick in a 15-1 FA Cup win over Weymouth in November 1900 he was signed by First Division club Aston Villa in May 1901, making his Football League debut at Bury the same September, and became the first mixed race player to score in the First Division when he scored in his fourth match in a 3-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Christmas Day 1901.
Clarke appeared with some regularity in his first two seasons at Villa Park but his time at the club was blighted by injury and he appeared only occasionally in the next two seasons, leaving Aston Villa to join Bradford City for £200 in May 1905 after 6 goals in 43 appearances. Aston Villa club president William McGregor commented of him “I know of few men in the Football League to equal him … his turn of speed should mean many goals to Bradford City”.
He appeared regularly for Bradford for three seasons, helping them to win the Second Division Championship in 1907-08, but in the top flight, despite scoring their first goal in the First Division when he scored a brace in a 4-1 win over Bury in their fifth game of the season, he lost his place in The Bantams’ first team in November 1908 and didn’t make another first team appearance before transferring to Lincoln City in December 1909 after 16 goals in 98 appearances for Bradford City.
At Lincoln he had a season and a half, but when Lincoln failed to be re-elected in the summer of 1911, Clarke left Sincil Bank having scored once in 36 appearances, joining Southern League club Croydon Common in September 1911. He scored 3 goals in 20 appearances for The Commoners during his single season at The Athletic Ground before retiring in 1912.