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Irish Insights

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Flash from the past

Notre Dame men's soccer coach Bobby Clark will have a bit of a flashback to his playing days when the Irish take on Indiana in an exhibition match at 7 p.m. Saturday in Fort Wayne as part of the Shindigz National Soccer Festival.

The two clubs will play the spring game in Parkview Field, the downtown baseball stadium of the TinCaps.

Clark, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, played in the Scottish League from 1962-82 making 800 first-team appearances.

And during his time with the Aberdeen Dons (1965-82), the Notre Dame coach made his was to the United States to play for the Washington Whips of the United Soccer Association in 1967.

And where did the Whips play – a baseball stadium.

"The first time I ever came over to this country was in 1967. It was when they introduce professional soccer to America," Clark said. "The way they did it was invite soccer teams from all over the world, mainly from Europe and South America, to represent cities. My team was Aberdeen, Aberdeen Football Club, FC, and we became Washington Whips. We came over in our offseason, so we would be there for maybe nine, 10 weeks. We would play right through the season. And we shared the stadium with the Senators. I remember going to a game and seeing Mickey Mantle hitting a home run for the Yankees.

"So my first actual experience of soccer in this country was actually playing in a baseball stadium. It has really gone the full circle."

Clark's baseball stadium playing experience could help his team prepare for Saturday's match in Parkview.

The field in Parkview will be placed in the outfield and will be 100 yards long and 60 yards wide. College fields are typically between 110 to 120 yards long and 65 to 75 yards wide.

"Maybe we didn't play on a full size field. A bit of one end went through the outfield. It was a fun situation," Clark said of the field in Washington. "I understand this field (in Parkview) is going to be a little bit on the small side. It will mean decisions are going to have to be made a little quicker."

Clark said the Irish are excited to play in-state rival Indiana as well as returning to play a match in Fort Wayne. Notre Dame has participated in past soccer festivals.

"Fort Wayne is a great soccer town," Clark said. "Being a Scotsman, I'm very well aware that DeMarcus Beasley, who plays for the Glasgow Rangers, was raised in Fort Wayne. It is an exciting time."

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