Not many football managers have been successful in both the men’s and women’s game but John Clayton certainly has.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, John had some fine seasons in charge of Denbigh Town and Denbigh Town Reserves, then into the 2000’s he led Denbigh Town Ladies in all of their greatest moments to date.
Today Grassroots North Wales wishes John a very happy birthday.
Born on April 18, 1958, he can look back on a great career in football management.
Originally from Liverpool, John was a young man when he and his family moved to Denbigh and they soon set about making their mark in the sporting world.
John, and his brothers Paul and Ian, all played for Denbigh Town over the years.
In the late 1980’s, John became manager of Denbigh’s first team, then in the following decade took over the Reserves with the late Mike Hargraves.
The pair transformed the team’s fortunes when they took the helm in the 1993-94 season.
In their first season, they won promotion to the Clwyd Premier after finishing runners-up in Division One.
Not only that, they also won the Clwyd Cup, beating Meliden 2-0 in the final at Colwyn Bay.
Although they brought trophies and progression to the table, perhaps the greatest legacy of Clayton and Hargraves was the talent they nurtured which was to benefit the first team big style, Danny Jellicoe a typical example.
It was no surprise to see John get involved in women’s football in the new millennium as his wife Sharon was a class player herself.
In 2008, John formed Denbigh Town Ladies FC and success was not too long in arriving.
Denbigh won the Betty Pickering Cup in 2013-14 and the North Wales League title in 2014-15.
They also made it to the Welsh Cup semi-finals in 2015-16.
John’s sons, Jamie and John Richard, have also helped in the running of the side over the years.
Players such as Mari Edwards, Gwawr Williams, Lexie Smith, Netty Jones, the Morris triplets – Charlotte, Emily and Lucy – as well as Hollie Groves, Elen James-Owen and, more recently, Rosie Hughes, have helped make Denbigh a team to be respected.
John stepped down from the team’s management last year, but he and Sharon remain on hand as advisors when needed to new head coach Jordie Baker.
Personally, I have known John for 33 years and worked with him at various stages over that period. He is one of the very best, a good friend.
I met him again on a night out about four years ago having not seen him probably for a good 15 years, but the chat flowed just like we’d gone back in time to the Pot Black in the mid-1990’s.
Have a great birthday John and thanks for everything.