St. Patrick’s College stalwart Howard Clark has been acknowledged for his outstanding contribution to football, with the 2018 Allan Jeans Lifetime Achievement Award. Mark Koelmeyer reports.
To football fans in Ballarat, St. Patrick’s College head coach Howard Clark will be remembered as one of the most successful coaches in the region.
His list of on-field accomplishments at St. Patrick’s is one to be savoured, having led his school to seven Herald Sun Shield titles and 14 BAS premierships during his tenure.
Yet the way he has conducted himself in the face of adversity off the field, is what he will be remembered for by those in the St Patrick’s community.
After being drafted to the Melbourne Football Club in 1982, Howard’s footballing career was unfortunately cut short due to health issues- a battle that he continues to fight today.
Receiving ongoing treatment and spending weeks in hospital through his time at St Patrick’s, including the past 10 Herald Sun Shield deciders, Howard’s commitment to helping develop young men never wavered.
Howard’s legacy as a coach began in 1996 when he was the Year 10 football coach until 2001 when he was given the job as the school’s 1st XVIII coach.
Under his influence, the school has been able to build itself into one of the most successful footballing schools, who boasts one of the best football programs in Victoria.
As part of the program, the school has established a tour of Ireland for 45 boys and their families in which they play international rules games, a tour which also includes a trip to Melbourne and Darwin.
Through the program, Howard has contributed to the careers of 114 players who have progressed to AFL/VFL, most notably Brownlow Medal winners John James and Brian Gleeson and modern-day players Matt Crouch, Shaun Grigg, Tom/Oscar McDonald amongst others.
Howard’s role at St Patrick’s was not limited to just coaching. He was the Year 7 coordinator from 1998-2008, the Director of Football from 2009-2018, the Director of Pastoral Care in 2003-2004, as well as the Year 10 coordinator from 2011-2018.
Away from St. Patrick’s, Howard also contributed to local football, coaching and mentoring U12 and U14 players at the East Point JFC and has been the assistant coach in the TAC Cup program with the GWV Rebels.
Despite experiencing health issues for a number of years, Howard will leave St. Patrick’s as a memorable and revered figure in the community.
While his accomplishments as a coach will be hard to top, his accomplishments as a teacher, a leader, a mentor and a person will be the focal narrative of Howard Clark’s tenure at St. Patrick’s.