Mark Roberts whilst in Stevenage colours, was our footballer, our captain, our manager for a clutch of games but as important for him and the club he was our winner. Mark’s ability to lead and motivate others, to care for the community he was representing, the ability to show the passion for the club effortlessly which had an uncanny knack of rubbing off on those around him – not least of all the supporters of the club was priceless.
When the news broke, that Mark had indeed left the club, it didn’t come as a big surprise as a potential move away from Stevenage had been discussed at length due to his impending contract expiry but the deep disappointment felt by many connected to the club was palpable.
Mark personified all that was great about the club, the togetherness – the feeling that Stevenage could take on the likes of Newcastle United and comfortably win, it helped create the feeling of immense pride the supporters felt after the loss at White Hart Lane – who can ever forget the pictures of Robbo after that game, tired but more dejected that the chance of winning had gone begging.
The screwed up face (sorry Robbo!), a bit of a trade mark when celebrating with or encouraging team mates to go again.
In short if Robbo believed then those around him did too!
As if to cement his legendary status, on 3rd July 2013, Mark Roberts took the unusual step of creating a good bye post on the popular Stevenage supporter football forum – Borochat. His post summed up the greatness of the man and demonstrates the mutual respect between player – supporter – community – club, so often missing in the modern game.
His post is replicated below, as this is a true moment in our collective histories;
“As I won’t have the opportunity to thank each Stevenage fan individually I wanted to post on here now that I have left the club. (And yes this is me!)
I could never have imagined when I signed from Northwich Victoria that it would have such a profound impact on both my life and career but it has. I have loved every second and am proud to have been part of such a golden era in the club’s history.
To see the club literally grow before my eyes has been an incredible thing to witness and I have never underestimated what we have all achieved. It has never been down to one individual, it has always been a collective effort and that is something that is so unique in the modern game.
I have met some incredible people, many of which I am proud to call close friends and the whole family nature of the club is why it will always be part of who I am. The support you as fans have always shown me (from my very first game against Wrexham) is something I will always treasure. You have taken in my family as one of your own (taught my mum and nan the Tetris!) and for that I thank you all from the bottom of the heart.
I will remember all the amazing moments we have shared together, whether that be the 6-0 win away at Eastbourne on our way to winning the conference or taking the lead in front of a full house at White Hart Lane. I guess what I’m trying to say is each moment was special and unforgettable for its own particular reason.
As your player, as your captain and briefly as your manager it has been an absolute blast. For all the victories, medals and trophies my abiding memory of my time at Stevenage will be Rochdale away and my first game as player manager. How I felt that day is difficult to justify in words but put quite simply it was everything that was great about Stevenage. Passion, commitment, togetherness and a burning desire to succeed. I know those who were there felt what we felt on the pitch after the final whistle and to me that is what football is truly all about.
I wish you all good luck in the future but I’m very excited about conquering my next challenge. It was an honour to be your captain and to pull on that number 14 shirt every single time.