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Andy Clark

by Tractor

Many of the Addis Army’s readers will already have learned of the deeply sad news of Andy ‘Clarky’ Clark’s passing this week. Some readers may have known him far better than I ever did, while others may have heard only of his fanzine, Corridor of Uncertainty, or not known of him at all.

In my limited capacity to pay tribute to Clarky, I thought I would particularly address those who weren’t aware of what a fantastic man he was and how privileged I feel to have contributed to his fanzine for the last nine years. I can’t tell you how blown away I was when Clarky got in touch with me directly and asked if I would write articles for Corridor. This man, an absolute stalwart England fan who tasked himself with the job of ‘keeping it real’, who knew so much about cricket and was a regular at proper County cricket, and then the women’s game,  thought that my opinions were worth publishing.

Not only worth publishing, but he was always so kind about the articles I sent him. I feel ashamed to say that I must have seemed very reticent and non-communicative for the first few years but that was only because I still couldn’t get over the fact that this living legend of the England touring contingent even knew who I was.

Clarky sold his yellow-jacketed fanzines at pretty much every overseas Test England’s men have played for 20 years, clocking up 28 editions (i.e. 28 tours) since the first issue in India, 2001. Typically, he would have to sell outside the ground due to various restrictions and regulations and working out where to find him was always a priority for everyone who knew what they were in for. Corridor of Uncertainty was edited by Clarky himself and he always contributed at least a couple of features himself, but it also brought together a thoughtful, hilarious, challenging (those quizzes were tough!) and real love letter to cricket and to English cricket in particular.

As cricket tours became more and more corporatised, Clarky’s mission to keep it real could have been lost but thanks to his knowledge of and love for the game, as well as his deep integrity and commitment to it, it continued in spite of his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease at a still very young age. Organising the bulk printing of the CoU in each destination country was certainly a hassle, as was dedicating so much of his baggage allowance each tour to his merchandise. But of course, he kept it real to the end, with my husband seeing him off onto the overnight bus from Dharamsala to Delhi after a few local ciders and a backstreet momo.

As well as the fanzines, Clarky’s accompanying t-shirts were essentially an emblem of identity on tour, or indeed at any cricket fixture back at home. They said ‘I’m part of this club. The club where we love our game and love cricket, totally authentically’. Each one also said, really, ‘I love what Clarky does, even if I don’t really know him.’ This even more in light of the antagonism Clarky often faced from some more commercial ‘supporters’ groups’ who were stung by the genuinely hilarious content that poked fun at their approach to touring.

I’m not sure whether the ECB or any senior England players will honour his passing, in the way they might for the ‘leaders’ of other, more commercial fan groups. I wish they would. I don’t know whether anyone at the ECB or on the England touring parties ever read Corridor of Uncertainty or wondered what all these t-shirt designs were all about. I wish they had.

Next time you at the cricket, at home or abroad, if you spot someone wearing a t-shirt with the Corridor of Uncertainly name, the tour dates and venues on the back and the ‘keeping it real’ slogan, know that you are seeing someone who loved Clarky, who will be so very deeply, sorely missed.

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