Clifton All Whites was founded in 1963, originally under the name of Thistledown Rovers. The club's founder members included Dick Lambert and Bill Norwell. During the 1960s and 1970s Clifton All Whites dominated youth football in Nottinghamshire by attracting the best players from all over the county, now most players are local. In 1963 there were only four teams in the Young Elizabethan League, and as the club developed, more teams and clubs were founded, many with advice and help from Clifton All Whites. By 1966 plans were underway for Clifton All Whites to test their skills abroad in a tournament in the Netherlands, at a time when overseas tours were rare. In the early days when football clubs only usually supplied shirts for their players a new standard was set as Clifton All Whites supplied a full strip. Another first was when the under 12's played a top Scottish team before a crowd of over 20,000 before a First Division match between Nottingham Forest and Newcastle United.
Professional clubs attempted to persuade Clifton All Whites to become a nursery club, but still the club policy is not to become tied to any one club. David Staniforth was the first player to make a career as a professional footballer, with Sheffield United.
Clifton All Whites performed well in FA Youth Cup games and eventually gained their own ground. In 1973 the club ventured out of youth football to senior football and joined the Midland League. Mick Walker was the first club manager and coach. He later served as manager of Notts County. The club resigned from the Midland League partway the 1977-78 season. During the 1990s the club played in the Nottinghamshire Alliance and later joined the Nottinghamshire Senior League. In 2010 Clifton joined the Central Midlands League South Division and continues to play in that division. In 2013-14 Clifton won the South Division championship.
Clifton All Whites are still thriving with teams from Junior Soccer School and Under 7's to seniors and in 1999 the club introduced the first girls' team.
A number of professional footballers have at one time played for Clifton. Amongst them are Garry Birtles, who is best known for his time at Nottingham Forest, during which he won the 1979 and 1980 European Cup finals. He was also capped three times by England. Keith Alexander was the manager of League Two side Macclesfield Town at the time of his death in 2010, in a career that included international appearances for Saint Lucia. Alexander played for a whole host of lower league football teams. His main success, however, came from football management – managing in both non-league and the Football League. He took League Two side Lincoln City to four consecutive play-offs, taking them to two finals at the Millennium Stadium.
Jermaine Jenas began his career at Nottingham Forest where he immediately impressed during the 2001–02 season. After a single season at the City Ground, which produced four goals in 33 games, Jenas was sold to Newcastle United for £5 million in February 2002.
Michael Johnson made more than 550 appearances in the Football League and Premier League, including more than 250 games for Birmingham City and more than 100 each for Notts County, the club where he began his professional career, and for Derby County. Although born in Nottingham, England, he is a full Jamaican international and played 12 times for the Jamaican national team. He retired as a player at the end of the 2008-09 season, and took up the post of youth team manager with Notts County.
Richard Liburd played professionally for Notts County and Bradford City. Matt Redmile played for Shrewsbury Town. Miles Addison played for Derby County.
Darren Huckerby played in the Premier League for Newcastle United, Coventry City, Leeds United and Manchester City. He also played as a professional for Lincoln City, Millwall, Nottingham Forest and Norwich City before finishing his career for Major League Soccer side San Jose Earthquakes.
Tony Cuthbert and David McVay both played for Notts County. Peter Wells played as a goalkeeper for Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Millwall and Orient in the 1970s and 1980s. Ian Andrews played as a goalkeeper in the Football League for Leicester City, Swindon Town, Leeds United, Southampton and AFC Bournemouth, and in the Scottish Premier League for Celtic. Pedro Richards played in defence for Notts County. Franny Green played for Peterborough United and Martin Rogers for Manchester United.
Steve Burke played 156 games in the Football League. Trevor Morley played as a striker for Northampton Town, Manchester City, West Ham United, Brann and Reading. Russell Slade has managed various Football League teams and is currently in charge of Grimsby Town. Mickey Walker played for Bradford City. Mark Hateley was capped 32 times for the English national team (including games in the 1986 World Cup), and played in top-level football leagues in England, Italy, France and Scotland.
Jermaine Pennant played for his local side Notts County as a youngster. He earned promising reviews in the youth team at County and Arsenal signed him in 1999. He struggled to make much of an impact at the North London club and spent time on loan at Watford, Leeds United and Birmingham City before joining the latter permanently. While an Arsenal player, he won 24 caps for the England under-21 team.
Ian Benjamin played for a number of clubs in a number of positions, mostly as a forward. Phil Starbuck scored 43 goals from 245 appearances in the Football League playing for a number of different clubs. David Staniforth played in The Football League for Sheffield United, Bristol Rovers, Bradford City, and Halifax Town. Bert Bowery played in England and the United States as a striker. Dave Smith played for Gillingham, where he made over 100 Football League appearances, Bristol City, Plymouth Argyle and Notts County. Steve Baines was a professional player and later a referee in the Football League. Devon White played as a striker for seven different Football League clubs.
Others include: Tony Reid (Derby County), Paul Rayner (Nottingham Forest), Roger Willis (Chesterfield), Colin Smith (Nottingham Forest), Tommy Asher (Notts County), Steve Holder (Notts County), David Elliott (Finland FA), Julian Barnett (Belgium FA), Tony Barrowcliffe (Peterborough United) and Paddy Bryne (Nottingham Forest).