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Richie Powling, from head butt to Clacton

I’m going to start with an incident in 1977 in which Ritchie Powling was the receiver of an evil head butt from the nutcase Kenny Burns.  I’m starting with it because it was caught on film, and nothing was done, either during or after the match.  Had the perpetrator been Paul Davis it would have been a ten match ban.

with a head-butt on Richie Powling , followed by a hard challenge on Frank Stapleton. Vintage Brian Moore: “There was a bit of something going on there in the wall” . KB would get a 10 game ban for that these days – this was Highbury 1977

Ritchie was born in Barking, on 21 May 1956 and started at Arsenal, as an apprentice in September 1971, turning pro in 1973 playing his first match against QPR on 27 October.  He was also young enough at the time to pick up three England youth caps in the 1973/4 season.

He didn’t make more than occasional appearances until 1975/6 when he played 29 games.  But the arrival of Terry Neill as manager, and Willie Young in the centre, meant that he was not first choice after that one season – and that combined with awful luck regarding injuries curtailed his career.

Ritchie’s final game was on 3rd September 1977  as Arsenal beat Nottingham Forest 0.  He suffered both ankle and knee injuries and did not play again until 1979/80, and then only in the reserves.

He is said to have signed for Barnet and Grays Athletic, but I have no details of the number of appearances.

After that he turned to management starting with Tiptree Utd in 1984, followed by Harwich and Parkeston, and then from 1992 to 1997 Sudbury Town, where he had particular success, gaining promotion to the Southern League Premier Division and getting to the second round of the FA Cup.

The 2nd round of the cup was quite an achievement, for to get there (the round before Arsenal start) the club played 11 games starting in the first qualifying round. This included two replays against Salisbury in the second qualifying round while in their first-round tie against Trowbridge, there were four matches before a victor was found.  Don’t get that these days!

He also took the club to the FA Trophy’s last-16 stage, where theey plkayed Macclesfield, who at the time were managed by Sammy McIlroy, once of Manchester United and Northern Ireland.

Sudbury’s climb up through the Leagues under Ritchie was fast indeed.  They got to the FA Vase final in 1989, and played in front of a record Vase Wembley crowd of 26,487.  Then Sudbury were promoted from the Jewson Eastern Counties League to the Beazer Homes League.

Beyond that he went to Braintree Town for a few months and then Harwich, before taking up a post at Clacton Town in 2002 and became director of football in 2003.

However these were not good times for Clacton.  In 2004/5 the club did well, coming 8th in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.  But they had two points deducted – although I don’t know why.

I wonder if Ritchie left the club then, perhaps along with others, because in 2005/06 Clacton did not win a league match all season, losing them all except one that was drawn and getting a goal difference of -159.   In 2007 the club was reborn as FC Clacton.

Sadly although FC Clacton acknowledges its past as Clacton Town, it provides no history of the club, and I can’t find anything to show what happened to cause the total collapse of the club, and what happened to Ritchie.

Thus the story ends – but I would say, as I so often do, if you know what happened please do get in touch so we can complete the story.

There is one other thing though… Ritchie has a daughter, Lindsey, who works or worked as a professional session singer and played in the band Mixed Feelings.  She produced an album, “This is Lindsey”.  Her married name is Lindsey Cleary.

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