Behind the scenes with The Little Sports Club Ambassador Clint Hill
In a career spanning over 20 years, The Little Sports Club Ambassador Clint Hill has been there, done that and bought the T-Shirt, he’s got over 650 games! He shares some of the highs and lows of the beautiful game with promotions, relegations and Injuries.
Full Name: Clinton Scott Hill
Playing Position: Defender
Teams Played For: Tranmere Rovers, Rangers, Oldham, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest
You made your professional debut for Tranmere Rovers in the 97/98 season against Nottingham Forest in a 2-2 draw. What were your memories building up to the game and how did you prepare for your first professional game?
I was obviously very nervous about making my debut especially against the calibre of players I was playing against the likes of Kevin Campbell and Pierre Van Hoojidonk, quality players at the time. The preparation was a bit strange for me as the manager at the time, John Aldridge instructed all the players to be in the bar after dinner, as soon as I arrived I was told we can all have a few pints, as you could imagine I thought this was a set-up of some sort. But he allowed us all to have a few pints and relax and take our minds off what was such a big fixture for us. It must of worked because we came away with a very good point in the end. I can’t see many teams preparing like that these days.
In 2000 you were in the Rovers team which played Leicester City in the League Cup Final, unfortunately you were sent-off and lost the game 2-1. What went through your head when walked down the tunnel early?
I was devastated after that game and felt like I let a lot of people down, it also robbed me of the chance to walk up the famous Wembley steps which hurt a lot. Luckily, I luckily managed to rectify that and do it with QPR after our play off final win, which exorcised a lot of demons for me.
During the summer of 2003 you joined Stoke City. But your first season was disrupted with injuries, which meant you had to sit a lot of your first season with the potters out. How did you keep yourself motivated to get back onto the pitch after only just recovering from a broken leg?
I still had a few ankle issues from the result of my broken leg and when I joined Stoke that pre-season, I hadn’t recovered from the leg break. So that season was a constant fitness battle trying to sort the ankle issues out. Obviously, I had just signed for a new club and I couldn’t play due to injuries and it was frustrating the hell out of me because all I wanted to do was play and prove myself. I suppose that was my motivation during it all to keep working hard in the gym and to try and get back as quick and as fit as I could.
After an impressive two month loan at Crystal Palace, Neil Warnock brought you to the club on a permanent deal. You established yourself as first choice left back and became a fans favourite. How good was it to be back playing week in, week out?
I think that move to Palace and getting the chance to work with Neil Warnock was a Godsend for me. It gave me back the love for the game that I started to miss by not playing and being involved at Stoke. It was a great club to go to at the time and it gave me a new challenge and a change of scenery that I was desperate for.
On 1st July 2010, you left Palace to join Queens Park Rangers and be reunited with former boss Neil Warnock. How good was it to be reunited with him?
I was Delighted to be working with Neil again, I really enjoyed working with him at Palace so it was a no brainer for me when he asked me to join QPR.
After QPR sealed the Championship title, it meant that you’d play in the premier league for the first time in your career. Following all the injuries in your career, how good did it feel to win promotion to the Premier League?
It was unbelievable we were a team that was thrown together in pre-season and not really given much of a chance that season. But as a team we clicked straight away. That team had everything you needed succeed in the championship and it was a pleasure to play and be involved with.
Following a quick loan spell at Nottingham Forest and the appointment of Mark Hughes, you become a regular in defence with Anton Ferdinand. How much did you enjoy your partnership with Anton?
I enjoyed playing with Anton, we took some punishment that season but the last 5 or 6 games we all pulled out some amazing performances and wins to secure our place in the top flight.
On the final day of the 2011/12 season, QPR survived relegation from the Premier League. You played in one of the most memorable games in league history with Sergio Aguero scoring in the last minutes to win the Premier League for Man City. What are your memories of the game?
I remember getting battered for 80+ minutes and somehow we were still winning. Then they threw on every striker they had at there disposal, Ballotelli, Dzeko, Aguero and Tevez and I was thinking, wow, how are we gonna get through this. I didn’t know at the time when Aguero scored the winner that we were safe, I thought we had blown it and we were relegated but lucky enough my old team Stoke had done us a favour.
In the 12/13 season Harry Redknapp made you captain taking over from Park Ji-Sung. How proud was you to captain QPR in the Premier League?
I felt immensely proud of being made captain and especially to get it off someone like Harry.
“I’m delighted to be involved with The Little Sports Club, I believe their programmes and projects will be a great impact to them!” Clint Hill