A life addicted to sport | Port Stephens Examiner

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AUTHOR: John Clarke promoting some of his books in the context of Nelson Bay Marina.

IN ACTION : "When I could run." John Clarke of Nelson Bay with ball with Allan Stocks in support.  Image: Supplied

IN ACTION: “When I could run.” John Clarke of Nelson Bay with ball with Allan Stocks in support. Image: Supplied

GUESS O: First Nelson Bay Rugby Club team to play in 1978 with Stinker Clarke (behind, fourth from left).  Image: Supplied

GUESS O: First Nelson Bay Rugby Club team to play in 1978 with Stinker Clarke (behind, fourth from left). Image: Supplied

AT SCG: The day Clarke played at SCG in under 16.  After going 5/25 chasing 217, Country won the match and Clarke scored with 80.

AT SCG: The day Clarke played at SCG in under 16. After going 5/25 chasing 217, Country won the match and Clarke scored with 80.

Sport is in the blood of John ‘Stinker’ Clarke of Fingal Bay. He may be best known as the harbor fishing guru, but his athletic repertoire extends far beyond the water.

What many people may not know is that Clarke was an avid athlete – and exceptional athlete – before becoming the very first physical education teacher at Nelson Bay High School in 1975.

Prior to settling in the bay, Clarke had played rugby league at the famed Lang Park in Brisbane, stepped onto the sacred turf of Sydney Cricket Ground and faced the mighty New Zealand All Blacks on a Perth rugby ground.

“These are all highlights of my playing days, but my proudest moment was joining SCG as a 16 year old player playing for a Country team in a Green Shield cricket match,” recalls -he.

“I had taken the train from Tweed Heads to Sydney and we had stayed in makeshift dormitories under the iconic clock at the members’ stand. It was like a dream come true.” For the record, Clarke scored the best with 80 to help Country secure the victory over City after the team were 5/25 chasing 217.

“Facing the All Blacks in 1974 while at the University of Perth was another great experience, not so much for the game. [“we lost 36-6 or thereabouts”] but for having faced Maori Haka. It’s something I’ll never forget. “

Hailing from Tweed Heads, Clarke had a happy childhood that consisted mainly of playing league, cricket, surfing and fishing. He received a Physical Education Diploma from Wollongong Teachers College, a BA in Education from the University of Western Australia and an MA from Newcastle University in 1985.

Clarke’s first posting was at Gilgandra High, after which he moved to Perth to continue his education.

After his appointment to Nelson Bay High School in 1975, Clarke said he was amazed the town did not have a full cricket ground. “I believe the only junior sports clubs at the time were Fingal Beach pincers and Nelson Bay junior rugby.”

“There was no organized weekly sports team for girls and senior sports were very limited.

“Other than tennis and golf, the only senior teams I knew of were a cricket team that played all of their home games in Newcastle and an incredibly popular Bay League club playing in a second division competition. “

Based at Fly Point Oval, the local league drew huge crowds to watch on a field with little or no grass cover.

“The pitch had soccer poles. I’ve never seen a soccer game play there. As a new master of sports, I saw the need for a weekly sport, especially for children.

“Junior cricket was my first target. With the help of Charles Belcher, we formed the Nelson Bay Junior Cricket Club with six school age teams. Four boys and two girls teams played in the same competition.

“The lack of cricket grounds and equipment posed a problem, but we found a few half-courts on Tomaree Headland and at Anna Bay School. A memorable round was played by Annette Matalone at batting on the Tomaree wicket, with short limits, scoring 64 points hitting 16 fours. “

Clarke was approached by then-adviser Dick Burwell, who had a vision of a major sports complex around the Old Town landfill site about 3 miles outside of town on Nelson Bay Road.

“Initially, I didn’t share Dick’s enthusiasm as I thought parents would object to paying for a weekly bus ticket to exercise every Wednesday afternoon. How wrong I was.”

The sports complex has continued to expand over the years to include football, AFL, tactile football, and track and field.

The original saltwater pool in the 1970s was located by the water’s edge on Teramby Road and Clarke is reminiscent of the entire school of about 370 students attending the annual swimming carnivals in the pool of 30 meters.

“The students I taught in the old high school were fantastic kids. Sure, some of them were brutal and ready, but they were always very respectful and I managed to keep in touch with a lot. of them to this day. “

Clarke was a founding member of the Nelson Bay Police Boys’ Club and supported Peter Sherriff in establishing the Shoal Bay Fishing Club.

With the expansion of the Tomaree Sports Complex, Clarke and Reg Toby formed the Nelson Bay Touch Football Club with eight male-only teams. It now includes women and juniors.

Three years after his arrival, John and Ella Clarke founded the Nelson Bay rugby club (senior). A meeting was called and a team, coached by Clarke, was formed which played in 3rd year with the Port Hunter Premier League. Today, the club is playing in the 1st division under the Gropers banner.

Tragedy struck the Clarke family with the death of their son Ben from a rare disease in 2003. Clarke admits it was a difficult time for the family and the impact is still being felt today. “I lost my passion for attending rugby after Ben passed away, however, I hope to attend local games next year.”

As an athlete, Clarke received both the Full Blue for Sport at WA Uni and the Hampshire Medal for Outstanding Rugby Player in that State in 1974, but in recent years his recreational pursuits have dominated his era. .

He has been involved in many environmental issues advising ministers of state on marine parks, recreational fishing and national parks and he was a founding member of the Tomaree Museum Association. “This region deserves a museum that honors the Worimi people and the efforts of the pioneers.”

Clarke still finds time to broadcast two weekly segments on Statewide and Newcastle ABC Radio, and has been the the examiner Fishing columnist ‘Stinker since 1987, publishing around 1,800 articles to date. And he’s also written 11 books on fishing, local history, and children’s books.

The grandfather of three does not stand still. If you can’t find him in Fingal Bay, he’s most likely our on the water in his tinnie, ‘Stinkpot’.

Sport is in the blood of John ‘Stinker’ Clarke of Fingal Bay. He may be best known as the harbor fishing guru, but his athletic repertoire extends far beyond the water.

Sport is in the blood of John ‘Stinker’ Clarke of Fingal Bay. He may be best known as the harbor fishing guru, but his athletic repertoire extends far beyond the water.

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