- Mark Walters
Mark Walters Personal information Full name Mark Everton Walters Date of birth 2 June 1964 Place of birth Birmingham, England Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) Playing position Midfielder/Winger Senior career* Years Team Apps† (Gls)† 1981–1987 Aston Villa 181 (32) 1987–1991 Rangers 106 (32) 1991–1996 Liverpool 94 (14) 1993–1994 → Stoke City (loan) 9 (2) 1994–1995 → Wolves (loan) 11 (3) 1996 Southampton 5 (0) 1996–1999 Swindon Town 115 (27) 1999–2002 Bristol Rovers 82 (13) Total 603 (123) National team 1983–1986 England U21 9 (1) 1991 England 1 (0) 1991 England B 1 (0) * Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).
Walters began his career as an apprentice at Aston Villa on leaving school in the summer of 1980, turning the professional a year later - just after Villa's Football League First Division title triumph - and made his competitive debut on 28 April 1982 in a 4-1 league defeat at Leeds United, two months after the departure of manager Ron Saunders - who had given Walters his first professional contract - and the promotion of assistant Tony Barton to the manager's seat. Walters was not included in Villa's squad for the final of the European Cup on 26 May 1982, which they won 1-0 against Bayern Munich, the West German champions.
Walters, still only 18, made 22 league appearances in the 1982-83 campaign as Villa finished sixth. He scored once that season. He was firmly established as a regular player in the 1983-84 season, appearing 37 times in the league and scoring eight goals, though Villa had a disappointing season and finished 10th, with Tony Barton being sacked at the end of the season and replaced by Graham Turner.
Walters, now highly rated as one of the country's most promising young players, remained in favour under Graham Turner, but Villa were in deep trouble throughout the 1985-86 season, finishing 16th and only avoiding relegation thanks to a late run of good form.
Walters was restricted to 21 league games due to injury problems in 1986-87 as Villa were relegated in bottom place. Turner had been sacked in September and replaced by Billy McNeill, who in turn lost his job after relegation to be succeeded by Graham Taylor.
Walters appeared in the first 24 games of Villa's ultimately successful quest to regain First Division status, scoring seven goals, but his talent was attracting attention from bigger clubs.
Due to English clubs being banned from European competition, teams such as Rangers, who were managed by former Liverpool star Graeme Souness, were finding it easier to attract English players and sign internationals such as Terry Butcher, Trevor Steven, Gary Stevens, Chris Woods and Ray Wilkins with Walters becoming one of these players on New Years Eve 1987.
Walters made his Rangers debut on 2 January 1988 in the Old Firm derby match with Celtic at Parkhead, a game which Rangers lost 2–0. A large amount of abuse came from Celtic fans, with bananas requiring to be cleared from the pitch and monkey noises coming from the Celtic fans' main area of the stadium known as "The Jungle". Some Celtic fans also dressed up in fancy dress monkey suits, whilst a fruit stand near the ground was reported to have sold out of bananas. Meanwhile, during the same game, in defence of Walters, Rangers' fans, with an unconscious racism, sang "I'd rather be a darkie than a Tim (Scots-Irish catholic)". Although Celtic slammed the perpetrators, the Scottish Football Association remained silent. Rangers also banned one of their own season ticket holders of racist abuse aimed at Walters. Walters himself later stated that his worst experience in Scotland was at Heart of Midlothian's Tynecastle, where the abuse was compounded by object-throwing.
Whilst at Ibrox, Walters was part of the side that won the Scottish Premier League in 1989, 1990 and 1991 and the Scottish League Cup in 1988 and 1990 thus enjoying the most successful spell of his career in terms of trophies won.
On 13 August 1991, after 143 appearances in which he scored 51 goals, he followed Souness to Liverpool, which was somewhat ironic seeing as his middle name is Everton - the name of Liverpool's fierce city rivals.
Liverpool paid £1.25 million for Walters' services and he made his debut four days after signing, when he came on as a 65th minute substitute for Steve McMahon in a 2–1 league win over Oldham Athletic at Anfield on 17 August 1991. His first goal for the club was an 88th minute penalty in a 2–1 league win over Notts County at Meadow Lane on 7 September 1991.
His best display all season was in a match against Auxerre at Anfield in the Uefa Cup. Liverpool trailed 2-0 from the away leg but won their home match 3-0 with Walters netting a late winner after tormenting the French defence all night long.
He remained a regular in the side and helped Liverpool to the 1992 FA Cup Final, although he was an unused substitute as his team-mates beat 2nd Division Sunderland 2–0. However, he appeared in just 25 out of 42 league appearances for the Reds that season, scoring three goals as they finished sixth - the first time since 1981 that they had finished lower than champions or runners-up.
Walters scored Liverpool's first FA Premier League goal when he equalized in a 2-1 win over Sheffield United in August 1992. That same season he was also the first Liverpool player to score a Premiership hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Coventry City. He was their second highest scorer behind Ian Rush that season, scoring 11 goals in 34 league games, though the Reds finished sixth again.
He lost his regular place in central midfield to youngster Jamie Redknapp in the 1993-94 season and never regained it.
When Liverpool beat Bolton Wanderers 2–1 in the 1995 Coca-Cola Cup final, again an unused substitute, Walters was being used less as Roy Evans was employing three centre-halves with Rob Jones and Stig Inge Bjørnebye as wing-backs and three midfielders - Steve McManaman, Jamie Redknapp and John Barnes.
He had already been sent out on loan to Stoke City (9 games, 2 goals) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (11 games, 3 goals) during the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons, and thus it was not surprising that, after not appearing at all during the first half of the 1995–96 season, Walters was allowed to leave, joining Southampton on 18 January 1996 on a free transfer.
Walters was signed by David Merrington in January 1996 to assist in the Saints' desperate fight against relegation from the Premiership. He made his debut as a substitute against Middlesbrough on 20 January 1996 and made a total of five league and four FA Cup appearances (with the Saints reaching the quarter-finals of the competition), but struggled to make any real impression with the side. His final appearance was in a dreadful match away to Queens Park Rangers, which Saints lost 3–0 meekly surrendering in a shoddy second half. At the end of the season, with Saints' Premiership status secured for another season, Walters was released, moving on to Swindon Town, ironically as Graeme Souness - the man who signed him for Liverpool five years earlier - was arriving at Southampton to succeed the sacked Merrington.
Walters joined Swindon Town on a free on 31 July 1996 and made his debut on 17 August in the 2-0 defeat to Norwich City at Carrow Road. His first goal for the Robins came via a 26th minute penalty during the 2-1 league win over Tranmere Rovers on 14 September 1996.
At the County Ground, Walters was "sometimes brilliant, but at other times could be very frustrating". He never really featured in manager Jimmy Quinn's plans, and was eventually released to Bristol Rovers on a free transfer during the administration period, when it was decided Town could no longer afford his wages.
Walters played a total of 126 matches for Swindon in which he scored 28 goals before he was released on 17 November 1999.
Having been told that he was no longer required by Swindon the 35 year-old joined Ian Holloway's Bristol Rovers side on a free transfer. He spent three years at the Memorial Stadium playing 96 times and scoring 14 goals before he finally hung up his boots on 26 April 2002, five weeks before his 38th birthday. The penultimate season of his career saw Rovers slip into Division Three, and they struggled at this level too, finishing the season just one place - though many points - above demoted Halifax Town.
Walters represented England at schoolboy and under 21 levels before he earning his only full cap under Graham Taylor whilst he was with Rangers. It came on 3 June 1991 in the 1-0 friendly victory over New Zealand in Auckland.
Walters joined Coventry Preparatory School as a Saturday morning football coach for the four- to 11 year–olds in February 2003; he then became a member of staff in January 2006, coaching years three to eight and is also head coach of the under-14s at Aston Villa's academy. Walters is also heavily involved with groups aiming to eliminate racism in football. Walters went back to school and obtained teaching qualifications. He is Head of Languages at Aston Villa's academy. His close friend Torben Piechnik teaches science.
Although now retired, Walters still plays in the Sky Sports masters football competitions for Rangers. He is also one of three honorary members of the Rangers Supporters Trust, along with Johnny Hubbard and Billy Simpson.
- 1980 FA Youth Cup
- 1982 European Super Cup
- 1987-88 Football League Second Division Promotion (Level 2)
- 1989 Scottish League Cup
- 1988-89 Scottish Premier League (Level 1)
- 1989-90 Scottish Premier League (Level 1)
- 1991 Scottish League Cup
- 1990-91 Scottish Premier League (Level 1)
- 1989 Scottish Cup
- 1990 Scottish League Cup
- 1992 Charity Shield
- ^ a b Duncan Holley & Gary Chalk (2003). In That Number - A post-war chronicle of Southampton FC. Hagiology. pp. 243 & 594. ISBN 0-9534474-3-X.
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- ^ a b c Andrew Smith - The Scotsman (December 2007). "A Black Day For Scottish Football". The Scotsman. http://news.scotsman.com/tacklingracisminscotland/A-black-day-for-Scots.3628273.jp. Retrieved 6 July 2008.
- ^ Smith, Adrian; Porter, Dilwyn (2004). Sport and national identity in the post-war world. p. 83. ISBN 0415283000. http://books.google.com/books?id=yZfYh7n2qTMC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Sport+and+National+Identity+in+the+Post-War+World#v=onepage&q=darkie&f=false. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
- ^ "Letters". The Guardian (London). http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1496650,00.html. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
- ^ "Racism returns to haunt Scottish game once more". The Scotsman. December 1999. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7951/is_1999_Dec_9/ai_n32658087/. Retrieved 6 July 2008. "That was the worst place of all. It wasn't just the abuse because I can handle that. It was all the objects that were being thrown." [dead link]
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- ^ a b c "Swindon Town player profile: Mark Walters". Swindon Town F.C.. http://www.swindon-town-fc.co.uk/Person.asp?PersonID=WALTERSM. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- ^ "New Zealand 0 - England 1; 3 June 1991 (Match summary)". www.englandstats.com. http://www.englandstats.com/matchreport.php?mid=674. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- ^ "Rangers Supporters Trust - April 2003". Rangers Supporters Trust website. http://www.rangerssupporterstrust.co.uk/rstsite/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=80&Itemid=48.
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