Gordon Clayton was born in Sunderland on 19th July 1910. A coalminer, he played football for Shotton Colliery before being signed by Major Frank Buckley, the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, in October 1932. He made his debut in 1933 and joined a team that included Dai Richards, Bryn Jones, Reg Hollingsworth, Billy Wrigglesworth, Tom Galley, Billy Hartill, Billy Barraclough, Stan Cullis, Tom Smalley and Charlie Phillips.
Clayton went through a barren period when he was unable to score. He got barracked by the Molineux crowd so badly that he considered giving up the game. Major Frank Buckley considered him a "grand centre-forward" and argued that it would be a "football tragedy" if this happened. Buckley's wife suggested that Clayton should have a "course of psychology" with a local doctor. This was a great success and Clayton went on to score 14 goals in the next 15 matches.
After finishing the course of treatment Clayton wrote to Dorothy Buckley: "I just learnt that it was you who was actually responsible for my treatment. I am very pleased with my success so far and I know you will be equally pleased. I cannot really thank you enough for what you have done... As you no doubt know the very name of Wolverhampton Wanderers was a nightmare to me. I detested the place. I do not think I was liked or respected by a single person with the exception of Major Buckley, who I have no doubt was always interested in my welfare, even though I must have exasperated him often."
Clayton scored 39 goals in 54 goals for Wolves before joining Aston Villa in October 1937. As Tony Matthews points out in the Who's Who of Aston Villa (2004): "Clayton was a tall, strapping footballer, recruited to bolster up Villa's attack during their Second Division championship-winning season." However, Clayton was not a success and only scored one goal in 11 games before being transferred to Burnley in October 1938. Clayton scored 10 goals in 16 games before the outbreak of the Second World War.