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.
Two 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.”
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!”
|Place of Birth||Roehampton|
|Boro Career||2006/2007 Season|
|Nick Name||Beardy, Beardo|
|Boro Shirt Number||26|
|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|
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.”
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.
Wembley photos supplied by Mark Beard and reproduced with his kind permission and that of Matt Ranson the copyright owner.