Date:Monday December 18 2006
Jack 'Nutty' Edwards-1921
Mark Gordon Robins,
born December 22, 1969 in Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire.
Mark started his career in the Manchester United youth system. In 1990, he scored one of the most important goals in United history when he scored the winning goal in an FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest. Manager Alex Ferguson's job was reportedly on the line. United went on to win the Cup that year (Robins scored the winner in the semi-final replay against Oldham Athletic at Maine Road) and Ferguson went to on to attain much success. Mark would score 17 goals in his United career.
Norwich City manager Mike Walker signed him for £800,000 in August 1992 to replace Robert Fleck. He immediately made an impact scoring twice on his debut away to Arsenal. He quickly became a popular figure with the Canaries and notched up 20 league goals in 66 appearances.
Under John Deehan's reign as manager, Mark fell out of favour and was often on the bench despite strong partnerships up front alongside Darren Eadie and Ashley Ward. Before the FA Cup tie at Grimsby on January 7th, Robins requested a transfer stating 'It just seems that my face doesn't fit.... I don't want to ask for a transfer but if they're not going to play me it's best if I go' He was dropped for the Grimsby match and sold to Leicester City for £1million.
His spell at Filbert Street was not successful and he fell behind Emile Heskey, Steve Claridge and Ian Marshall in the pecking order to lead the Leicester attack. Mark had a loan spell at FC Copenhagen in the autumn of 1996 but returned to Leicester and participated, mostly as substitute, in Leicester's Coca Cola Cup run that took them to Wembley. Tabloid gossip linked him with moves to Bolton and with a return to Carrow Road but at the end of August 1997, Mark joined First Division side Reading on a month's loan.
There was later some confusion as to Mark's whereabouts. According to the Capital Canaries newsletter , Mark joined Greek side Panionios, presumably to escape the attention of Britain's tabloids that have spotlighted his turbulent and sometimes violent lovelife. The Independent on Sunday stated on January 18th 1998 that he has joined Spanish side Orense but the News of the World reported otherwise stating he had joined Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna on a short term contract. The fact is that he is with Deportivo Orense. However according to World Soccer magazine Mark joined Panionios in the summer of 1998 and has scored with them in an European Cup-Winners Cup match against Haka Valkeakoski.On March 14th 1999, Sport First revealed that Mark was unhappy in Greece as he was not being paid regularly, and had to borrow money from his son to pay for petrol to get to training. Despite this sorry state of affairs, Panionios reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
On Transfer Deadline Day (March 25th 1999), Mark returned to Manchester joining Manchester City on loan from Panionios until the end of the season. Injuries (hernia) limited Mark's appearances for City to less than 60 minutes (2 appearances as substitute).Joe Royle opted not to offer Mark a contract with City stating that there were other players on the fringe of the first team that were better suited for City's style of playing. However Royle believed that Mark would have no difficulty finding a club as he was 'still a quality player'.
Mark put his injuries behind him to secure a contract with then Division One newboys Walsall following their July 1999 pre-season tour to France and impressed in the game against Troyes. He eventually signed a contract with the Saddlers on 2nd August 1999. Despite being a regular in their attack in 1999/2000, Mark felt their relegation to Division Two would result in them adopting a different style of play which would not suit him. Therefore he refused a new contract and joined Rotherham on 22nd June 2000. Mark's 24 goals by the end of April 2001 took Rotherham into the First Division. On September 15th 2001, he fulfilled one of soccer's laws of nature when he scored Rotherham's equaliser in their 1-1 draw with Norwich.
Mark requested a transfer in February 2002 as he was not a first team regular but Millers' boss Ronnie Moore rejected it immediately. In June 2002, it was suggested that Bristol City would make a move for Mark to replace Tony Thorpe. This was be particularly appropriate as City's nickname is The Robins.
Although Mark stayed at Rotherham for the 2002/03 season, he was not a first team regular and manager Ronnie Moore stated in January 2003 that he could leave on loan if the right offer came along. Huddersfield manager Mick Wadsworth stated at the end of January 2003 that he was keen to bring Robins to the McAlpine Stadium but could not afford him. Hull City and Lincoln City were also linked with Robins at that time. The media then reported that Rotherham and Tranmere had come to an agreement that Robins would join the Merseyside team on loan. However Robins backed out of this move, supposedly at the wishes of his agent who was trying to broker a move to Barnsley. Instead Robins joined 'The Robins' in the form of a loan move to Bristol City on 17th February 2002. He made his debut the next day, scoring in a 4-2 win over Cambridge in the Southern Area Final First Leg of the LDV Vans Trophy. Robins scored again in both of City's next apppearances (Northampton (a) and Cheltenham(h) ). He extended his loan for another month on March 13th 2003. However Rotherham used their right to recall him on March 21st as they had gone 6 games without a win and were hoping that Robins' experience might prove the difference. It seemed to work as Robins scored in their 2-1 win over Wimbledon.
Making only 6 appearances for Rotherham by mid-October 2003, Mark requested a transfer. Bristol City were quickly linked but City manager Danny Wilson distanced himself stating that his City side were different from that Robins had played in earlier in the year. Wilson also suggested that he was unwilling to pay the figure that Rotherham had quoted previously for Robins' services. Stockport County have also been linked although their new manager Sammy McIlroy may be waiting to evaluate his current squad before spending any money.
Mark was given a free transfer by Rotherham on 30th October 2003. He was immediately linked with moves to Darlington, Rochdale and his hometown club Oldham. Mark had scored 49 goals in 117 appearances for Rotherham. Danny Wilson stressed that Bristol City were not interested despite media speculaion. Wilson suggested that with Robins' age (33), this would not be a wise move and that he was unwilling to spend his funds on a short-term contract. Sheffield Wednesday manager Chris Turner expressed an interest but admitted they did not have the finances to sign him. Eventually Mark joined Wednesday on Monday 8th December 2003 signing a contract until the end of the 2003/04 season. Due to injuries, the Owls did not renew it and Mark opted to retire from the professional game at the end of May 2004.
However the following month it was reported that Mark had been invited by Nigel Clough to train with Burton Albion and he signed for the Conference side at the beginning of July 2004.
In February 2005, Rotherham manager Ronnie Moore was sacked. His replacement was the Millers' youth and reserve team manager Alan Knill who appointed Robins as his assistant.
Thanks to 'Flown from the Nest' Norwich for the Mark Robins Biography.
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