Son of late Wisbech Town legend Bill Clarkson takes American stars into the record books

PUBLISHED: 10:31 30 July 2020

James Clarkson made history as head coach of Houston Dash by leading the team to their first ever trophy. Picture: YOUTUBE/HOUSTON DASH

James Clarkson made history as head coach of Houston Dash by leading the team to their first ever trophy. Picture: YOUTUBE/HOUSTON DASH

Archant

A football coach from the Fens who moved to America to enhance his coaching career has made history by winning his current club’s first ever trophy.

James Clarkson was named head coach of Houston Dash in December 2018. Picture: YOUTUBE/HOUSTON DASHJames Clarkson was named head coach of Houston Dash in December 2018. Picture: YOUTUBE/HOUSTON DASH

James Clarkson was named head coach of women’s soccer team Houston Dash in December 2018, four years after the squad entered the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Now, James, originally from Wisbech and son of the late Fenmen legend Bill Clarkson, has helped them win the NWSL Challenge Cup following a 2-0 victory over Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, July 26.

Maggie Clarkson, James’ mum, could not be prouder of her son, who spent over 10 years with the Houston Dynamo Academy before taking up his latest role.

“Whatever he did, he did it off his own back and he has only ever wanted to do something with football,” Maggie said.

James' dad, former Wisbech Town player and manager Bill Clarkson (left) with ex-Fenmen boss Roy McManus and former Manchester City star Steve Daley (centre) in 2016. Picture: ARCHANTJames' dad, former Wisbech Town player and manager Bill Clarkson (left) with ex-Fenmen boss Roy McManus and former Manchester City star Steve Daley (centre) in 2016. Picture: ARCHANT

“He is a very popular guy and has a lovely personality. His work ethic is extremely high and he’s passionate about the game.

“There were a lot of commitments he had to make, but this is such an accolade. There have been times when it has been difficult, but he has got to where he has through hard work.”

Before moving to the States in 1997, James played professionally in New Zealand before returning to Fenland to begin his coaching tenure at Wisbech Town FC in 1996.

Since then, he has held positions such as the director of coaching for the South Texas Youth Soccer Association and a national instructor for US Soccer, as well as holding a UEFA A license.

James (third from right) with the NWSL Challenge Cup. Picture: SUPPLIED/MAGGIE CLARKSONJames (third from right) with the NWSL Challenge Cup. Picture: SUPPLIED/MAGGIE CLARKSON

Speaking for the club website after Houston Dash’s triumph, who were ranked 200-1 outsiders to win the eight-team tournament, James said: “I’m so proud of the players, throughout this whole experience. Their effort, their commitment on and off the field has just been incredible.

“These are exciting times, and hopefully we continue them, grow the fan base and make Houston a destination that people want to come and play for.”

Maggie said winning the NWSL Challenge Cup is one of James’ best accolades to date, something that can hopefully be repeated in years to come.

“Both James and Matthew (Maggie’s other son) played for Wisbech, so they had humble beginnings and progressed from there,” she said.

James celebrates with the Houston Dash team after winning the NWSL Challenge Cup. Picture: SUPPLIED/MAGGIE CLARKSONJames celebrates with the Houston Dash team after winning the NWSL Challenge Cup. Picture: SUPPLIED/MAGGIE CLARKSON

“He took so many chances and wanted to do what he wanted to do, and through hard work and endeavour, he has got there.”

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