Mark Beard

Mark Beard lifting cup after Boro Wembley win. Early career
Mark Joined Millwall FC straight from school, making his professional debut in the Championship at the age of 18 in a 4-1 win against Watford FC. Mark went on to make 32 appearances for the South London club over two seasons (1993/94 and 1994/95) and a further 13 from the bench – scoring 3 goals in the process.

Mark, a Millwall supporter, reminiscing on his time at the club said that “my most memorable moment for Millwall was scoring the first goal in a 2-0 win over Arsenal at Highbury in a FA Cup 3rd round replay in the 94/95 season.  We then went on to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on penalties before being knocked out of the competition, losing 1-0 to Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.”

The following Season the then Sheffield United manager Dave Bassett signed Mark, who stayed at the Yorkshire club for 3 seasons (1995/1996, 1996/97 and 1997/1998). He made 56 appearances in total during his spell at the club.  Mark went on a brief loan to Southend United towards the end of his time with The Blades.

Mark Beard after scoring for Millwall against ArsenalTwo Permanent spells with Southend United (1998/99, 1999/00 and 2001/02, 2002/03) followed. Mark made 122 appearances for the Shrimpers and a further 22 as a substitute finding the net once during his stay at Roots Hall.

The two Spells at Kingstonian were interwoven with his time on the coast (2000/01 and 2003/04). Mark made 63 appearances for the club scoring 6 goals. It was whilst playing for the K’s that he first encountered Stevenage Borough.  “During the 2001/01 season, the Kingstonian team coach was caught up in a massive traffic jam on the M25.  At about 2.45 we decided to get changed on the coach and warm up.  We arrived at Broadhall Way at 2.55, put our boots on and started the game. We were 3-0 up in 15 minutes and ended up winning the game 5-2”.  Dean Martin and Nathan Bunce were the scorers for Boro that day.

Mark then headed to Marbella, Spain to join UD San Pedro in the Spanish 3rd Division. He had a dual role as first team player and to also head up the International Academy where he looked after 6 teams ranging from U7 to U16’s.  “After 6 months, the first team manager was sacked and Vinny Samways and I were appointed joint managers.  It was a great experience and I loved my two years there.”

Looking back at his non Boro playing career Mark has a number of match memories that he holds dear.  “I was lucky enough to play against Arsenal, Chelsea, and QPR for Millwall in the FA Cup, but the best team I encountered has to be the Fergie babes Man United team which included Beckham, Scholes, Butt, Neville, Gillespie and Casper.  It was playing for Millwall in the FA Youth Cup semi final at Old Trafford.  We actually beat them 2-1 but it felt like we chased them all night.”

Boro
The lure of a return to English football became too strong for Mark.  At the beginning of the 2006/2007 season he decided to make a return “I got my brother Matt to ring a few managers for me.  Stimmo (Mark Stimson) was one of them. Boro hadn’t started the season very well and he wanted to add some grit into midfield.  So, I flew home, trained for a week to prove my fitness and then played for a couple of weeks for nothing.  The rest is history.”

Mark looks back fondly at his time at Stevenage. “I honestly thought we were the best team that season.  I arrived after 6 games which Boro had lost nearly every one.  If we didn’t have such a bad start, I am sure that we would have gone up. ”  (For the record, Boro’s opening 6 games that season resulted in 1 win, 2 draws and 3 defeats).

Mark scored three goals for Boro during his season long stay.  “My first goal was on my home debut versus Weymouth and ended up being the only goal of the game.  It was such a big game for us and we went on an excellent run after that. My favourite goal was the one versus Southport.  It was in the 90th minute at home – I curled the ball into the top corner from 25 yards to make it 2-1.  At the time we were making a charge for the play offs so it was an important win.  My other goal was in the derby against Cambridge which we won 3-1.  Every goal for Boro was special!”

Mark counts himself as being fortunate at being surrounded by quality players at his time with Boro. “There were loads – Morrison, Boydy, Bradley Johnson for 1 month, Adam Miller my midfield partner, Guppy, Nutter and Fuller – all of them are legends. You could always see Moro and Boydy would play at a higher level.”Mark remains in contact with a lot of players from his time at Stevenage as well as Mark Stimson, the man that brought him home to English football.  The mix of players in that period was something special “We had some real characters at the club; Adam Miller was at the heart of everything. He used to glue other players flip flops to the floor, so as they went to walk away they would fall over! Every day was great and there was loads of banter.”

 

The other big disappointment for Mark was being released at the end of that season.  “I still felt I had another couple of seasons in me but Stimmo wanted to bring Johnny Martin in. I was gutted to leave”.Boro finished the 2006/07 Conference season in 8th position.  Mark sees not making the play offs that season as being his biggest frustration whilst at Boro. “We just drifted away at the wrong time. I felt it was because we had played a lot more games than other teams and just run out of steam.”Mark Beard with his daughter at WembleyLooking back at his spell in Boro colours “I think the best match I played in was the FA Trophy final. To be involved in the first competitive cup final at the New Wembley was an amazing experience.  To share it with that group of players was something I’ll never forget.”“My stint at Boro was the best time in my career.  I think I was very lucky to be part of the team that season. Very rarely do you get a squad where everyone gets on, the players and staff involved will never forget that season.  Every player I speak to says it was the best that they have experienced.  I loved every minute, and to be honest when I left at the end of that season I felt like retiring.  I didn’t feel I could ever be happy again at a club.”Mark is not surprised at the recent rise of Stevenage FC.  “Phil Wallace, the Chairman is probably the best I have been involved with.  The club is similar to AFC Wimbledon who I also played for; you could always tell they were destined for better things.”
Name Mark Beard
Position Defender/ Midfielder
Born 08/10/1974
Place of Birth Roehampton
Boro Career 2006/2007 Season
Nick Name Beardy, Beardo
Boro Shirt Number 26
Played 47 (2)
Scored 3
Roomed  with Barry Fuller or Steve Guppy
Superstitions (1) Left shin pad before right (2) Skin tight vest under shirt no matter the weather!
Influence on career His Dad Mick and Tom Whalley, his youth team coach at Millwall

Later Career
After leaving Boro, Mark joined St. Albans for a short period. A time he describes as “a nightmare from start to finish.” “I then went to AFC Wimbledon and loved my time there, gaining promotion with them through the play offs.” Haywards Heath, in the Sussex County League, followed for Mark, mainly to set up an academy for their youth team.  “I ended up as manager there and got a real taste for it.”

Mark was then appointed manager at Tooting and Mitcham “I was there for 18 months; it was a great experience which will stand me in good stead for my future as a coach/manager.”

Mark Beard and son Sam
This brings the story of Mark’s footballing career right up to date as on 1st July 2012, Mark took up a position with Crawley Town FC as coach of their U18’s. “It is a full time job and one that I am really enjoying.  We will play Stevenage as well, which I am looking forward to.”

Left – Mark and son Sam, who has recently signed an under 15 contract with Brighton U15′s.
 
Stevenage FC History Website would like to thank Mark for agreeing to the interview and for all the help given in compiling the article. We would also like to wish Mark all the very best for his future footballing career.

September 2012

Wembley photos supplied by Mark Beard and reproduced with his kind permission and that of Matt Ranson the copyright owner.