You could say that Dave Clement was the right player at the wrong time for Bolton Wanderers.
Dave Clement, born 2nd February 1948, began his career with Queens Park Rangers. After coming up through the youth ranks, Clement signed with QPR professionally in 1965. He would have to wait two years for his debut though, which came in April 1967 in a 5-1 win against Scunthorpe United. That day, Clement wore the number 5 shirt, but he would become synonymous with the number 2 for the rest of his QPR career.
Clement made his debut in the same season that QPR became the first 3rd Division side to ever win the League Cup. Rangers beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 at Wembley in their first ever cup final.
In the following years since his debut, Clement played a key role as QPR rose up the divisions, reaching the top flight for the second time in 1973. Rangers had previously achieved promotion to Division One in 1968, but suffered relegation in their first ever season in the top flight in 1969.
This time it was different for QPR. Rangers achieved respectable finishes of 8th in 1974 and 11th in 1975, but the 1975/1976 season was one to truly remember for the fans.
Under the stewardship of Dave Sexton, QPR finished second in Division One, just one point behind Champions Liverpool.
Despite narrowly missing out on the title, Clement earned recognition for his contributions with an England call up.
Dave Clement made his England debut against Wales in March 1976. Coincidentally, Ray Clemence was in goal for Wales that day, as he was for Scunthorpe when Clement made his professional debut nearly a decade earlier.
QPR would never come as close to the top of English football again. In the 1976/1977 season, Rangers finished 14th, but did reach the Semi-Finals of the League Cup and the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Cup.
Rangers would go on finish 19th the season after, before suffering relegation from the top flight in 1979.
Dave Clement scored 28 times for QPR in 476 games, the fourth most appearances in the clubs’ history. He’s widely regarded as one of Rangers’ greatest ever players, playing in what is considered to be the best ever team.
Because of QPR’s relegation, Clement moved up North to join Ian Greaves’ Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £170,000.
Greaves had been trying for a year to sign Clement.
Upon his arrival at Burnden Park, Dave Clement stated:
“People in the south tend to have the wrong impression of life in the north, but I am very impressed. The people are very friendly inside the club and the set-up is great. The club has tremendous potential, much more than QPR.
What a way to make your arrival.
Unfortunately for Clement and Bolton Wanderers, it was a case of him being the right player at the wrong time.
Despite being part of the iconic Wanderers side of the 1970’s, which included the likes of Paul Jones, Sam Allardyce, Peter Reid, Roy Greaves and Neil Whatmore, Bolton Wanderers suffered what could be considered a sophomore slump.
Without Frank Worthington’s goalscoring prowess, Wanderers suffered relegation from the top flight in 1980.
Because of this, Dave Clement moved back down South to join Fulham in October 1980. Clement played a total of 39 games for Wanderers.
Dave Clement would go on to play eighteen times for Fulham before joining Wimbledon in 1981.
Unfortunately, after only nine games for Wimbledon, Clement sustained a broken leg, which Doctors feared could end his career.
Sadly, depression took a hold of him and the stress caused by his injury led him tragically to take his life on 31st March 1982, at the age of 34.
Mental illness is a disease that can attack and cripple anybody, at any time, and it shouldn’t be a stigma to reach out and talk to someone about it.
Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. We need to encourage and support each other to open up and talk about how we’re feeling. Love football by all means, but love life more. https://t.co/AezwMvv6mK— COPA90 (@COPA90) January 16, 2018
Let’s remember Dave Clement as the fantastic player he was. It might not have worked out for him at Wanderers, but Clement was still one of the best full backs in English football. On what would have been his 70th birthday, we remember Dave Clement.
A true QPR legend.