Mark Roberts (footballer, born 1983)

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Mark Roberts
Mark Roberts 3.png
Roberts playing for Stevenage Borough in the 2009 FA Trophy Final
Personal information
Full name Mark Alan Roberts[1]
Date of birth (1983-10-16) 16 October 1983 (age 30)[1]
Place of birth Northwich, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current team
Fleetwood Town
Number 5
Youth career
2000–2003 Crewe Alexandra
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2003–2007 Crewe Alexandra 5 (0)
2004 Vauxhall Motors (loan) 19 (3)
2005–2006 Southport (loan) 6 (0)
2006 Chester City (loan) 1 (0)
2006 Southport (loan) 12 (0)
2006–2007 Halifax Town (loan) 13 (1)
2007 Northwich Victoria (loan) 3 (0)
2007 Northwich Victoria 20 (1)
2007–2008 Accrington Stanley 34 (0)
2008 Northwich Victoria (loan) 9 (1)
2008–2009 Northwich Victoria 20 (1)
2008 Stevenage Borough (loan) 6 (0)
2009–2013 Stevenage 193 (21)
2013– Fleetwood Town 33 (3)
Teams managed
2012 Stevenage (caretaker)
2013 Stevenage (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 14:00, 26 May 2014 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).

Mark Alan Roberts (born 16 October 1983) is an English professional footballer who plays for Fleetwood Town as a defender.

Roberts started his career at Crewe Alexandra at the age of 11, and progressed through the youth ranks at the club; signing a professional contract with The Railwaymen at the age of 19. He played a total of six times during his seven years on the club's books, and was sent out on loan six times during his spell at the club. Following a successful loan spell at his hometown club, Northwich Victoria, he joined the club on a permanent basis in 2007. Roberts played 20 games for the Cheshire club during the second half of the 2006–07 season, before returning to the Football League with Accrington Stanley in summer 2007. He played 37 games for the club, before being loaned out to his former club, Northwich Victoria, a move which was later made permanent.

During the 2008–09 season, Roberts attracted the attention of Stevenage — and joined the Hertfordshire side on an initial one-month loan deal, before signing permanently in January 2009 for an undisclosed fee. He was made team captain ahead of the 2009–10 season, a campaign in which Roberts would help lead the side to the Football League for the first time in the club's history. The following season, Roberts helped guide the club to back-to-back promotions following their sixth place finish and subsequent League Two play-off victory in May 2011. He has also spent two spells as caretaker manager of the club, once in January 2012 and again in March 2013. After a successful four-and-a-half year spell at Stevenage, Roberts joined Fleetwood Town on a free transfer in July 2013.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Born in Northwich, Cheshire,[1] Roberts started his career at Crewe Alexandra at the age of 11. After progressing through the youth ranks he signed a professional contract with the club on 6 July 2003 at the age of 19.[1][2] He joined Vauxhall Motors of the Northern Premier League Premier Division on loan and made his debut in a 3–2 win at home to Southport on 31 January 2004.[3][4] His first goal came in a 2–0 home win over Alfreton Town on 6 March 2004, and finished the loan with 19 appearances, scoring three goals, before the end of the 2003–04 season.[4] Roberts impressed for Crewe in several pre-season friendlies before the 2004–05 season,[5] and played his first full 90 minutes for the club in Crewe's 2–1 friendly win against Everton. Roberts' pre-season performances led to Crewe assistant manager, Neil Baker, saying "Mark's a player that I felt could bridge the gap, having worked with him more than the other coaches. The way he coped should give him the belief to go on now."[5] He subsequently made his Crewe debut in September 2004, starting in a League Cup match against Sunderland, a game that Crewe won 4–2 in a penalty shoot-out after playing out a 3–3 draw after extra time.[6] Shortly after, he made his league debut for Crewe in a 1–0 defeat at Preston North End,[7] and went on to make five more appearances for Dario Gradi's side before his run was curtailed by injury.[8]

After struggling to establish himself at Crewe Alexandra, Roberts spent time on loan with Merseyside based outfit Southport.[9] Roberts made his Southport debut just three days after signing for the club, playing the whole match in a 4–0 away defeat to Accrington Stanley.[10] He featured in a total of six games for Southport, before then opting to join Chester City on a one-month loan deal.[11] Roberts only started one game for Chester in a 5–0 defeat at Carlisle United,[12] and did not feature again for the Cheshire side subsequent to this match.[13] After his unsuccessful loan spell at Chester, Roberts was loaned out to Southport for a second time in March 2006,[14] making his second debut for the club in a 2–1 win away to Forest Green Rovers, in which he was sent off in the 88th minute for two bookable offences.[15] He returned to first team action in Southport's 1–1 draw against Altrincham,[16] before playing the whole match in a 2–0 victory against Accrington Stanley at Haig Avenue.[17] He played 12 times during his second loan spell at the club, playing his final game in Southport's 1–0 home loss against Aldershot Town in April 2006.[18][19] Despite still being on the books at Crewe, Roberts had not made a first team appearance for the club since 2004 and was again loaned out ahead of the 2006–07 season, this time to Yorkshire based Conference National side Halifax Town.[20] He played his first game for Halifax in the club's first game of the 2006–07 campaign, starting in a 2–0 away defeat to Oxford United.[21] He scored his first goal for Halifax in a 2–1 victory over Cambridge United, the first goal of the game.[22] Roberts featured in a total of thirteen games for the Halifax, scoring once, before ending his loan spell at the club.[23]

Roberts playing for Northwich Victoria in 2008

Shortly after, Roberts joined his hometown club Northwich Victoria on another loan deal.[24] He made his debut for Northwich in a 3–1 away win at St Albans City at Clarence Park, and after playing in three games for the Conference National side, Roberts signed for the club on a permanent basis.[25] He featured regularly during the second half of the 2006–07 season, which witnessed an up-turn in form for Northwich.[26] As a result, Roberts returned to the Football League with Accrington Stanley in July 2007, joining the club for a fee set by a tribunal.[27] Roberts started the first 30 games for the League Two side, whilst featuring in a further three as a substitute.[28] However, he returned to Northwich Victoria on loan in March 2008.[29] He helped Northwich to Conference Premier survival towards the end of the season, scoring his only goal in a crucial match against fellow relegation candidates Stafford Rangers,[30] and played a total of nine times during the loan spell.[31] Despite making a further brief appearance for Accrington towards the end of the season,[32] Roberts re-joined Northwich on a permanent deal after his loan spell.[33] During the 2008–09 season, Roberts continued to play regularly in the centre of Northwich's defence, scoring once in a 3–2 home defeat against Weymouth in September 2008.[34] He made a total of twenty appearances for Northwich during the first half of the season.[35]

Stevenage[edit]

Roberts playing for Stevenage Borough in 2009

In November 2008, Roberts started for Northwich in a 1–1 draw at Broadhall Way in a match between Northwich and Stevenage,[36] he subsequently joined the Hertfordshire side on loan a week after the match.[37] The deal was made permanent on 1 January 2009, after impressing Graham Westley during his one-month loan spell.[37] He scored his first Stevenage goal in a 2–0 FA Trophy win away to Farnborough,[38] as well as scoring his second goal for the club in Stevenage's 4–0 win against Forest Green Rovers.[39] He scored his first league goal for the club in a 2–1 victory away to Altrincham, scoring a stoppage time goal to ensure Stevenage left Moss Lane with three points.[40] Roberts followed this up with another goal in Stevenage's next away fixture, heading in the only goal of the game to give Stevenage a 1–0 win at Northwich Victoria, his former employers.[41] He was sent off in the club's 2–1 home win against Cambridge United in April 2009,[42] and continued to play regularly as Stevenage made the play-offs as a result of finishing in the final play-off place. He scored in the semi-final first leg against Cambridge United, heading in Steve Morison's ball across goal, but could not prevent Stevenage from losing 4–3 on aggregate over two legs.[43][44] Roberts was awarded 'Supporters Player of the Year' at the end of the season despite only joining the club in late November 2008.[45] He also started in all seven of the club's successful FA Trophy campaign during that season, scoring twice in the process and playing in the side's 2–0 win against York City in the Final.[46] In May 2009, it was announced that Roberts would be team captain for the 2009–10 season.[47] On Roberts' appointment as captain, Stevenage manager Graham Westley said "Roberts is a natural leader who leads in the best way — by example. He is the obvious choice."[47]

"It was important to get the championship in the bag, now we can enjoy it. Obviously we have worked so hard to achieve this. No-one will probably ever know how hard we have worked and every one of the lads deserves a pat on the back."

Captain Mark Roberts, on Stevenage securing promotion to the Football League in April 2010.[48]

Roberts formed a formidable centre-back pairing with Jon Ashton the following season as the team started putting a decent run of form together during late August and throughout September 2009; with the defence being particularly tight.[49][50][51] He scored his first goal of the 2009–10 season on his 50th appearance for the club, giving Stevenage the lead in a 3–1 victory over Salisbury City in October 2009.[52][53][54] A month later, he doubled his goal tally, scoring the second goal in Stevenage's 2–0 victory against Chester City,[53][55] before notching his third goal of the season in a 6–0 win over Vauxhall Motors in the FA Trophy. Roberts' fourth goal of the campaign came during another 6–0 win, this time at Eastbourne Borough, side-footing the ball into the net from a well-worked free-kick.[53][56] He scored his fifth goal of the season in a 3–0 win over AFC Wimbledon at Kingsmeadow, sliding the ball into the net from close range.[53][57] Roberts led the side out in their 2–0 win against Kidderminster Harriers at Aggborough in April 2010; the game that ultimately secured promotion to the Football League for the first time in the club's history, winning the league with two games to spare.[58] Roberts played a total of 49 times during the season, scoring five times from defence.[54] He was also named as the Conference Premier Player of the Month for April 2010.[59] Stevenage had the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 24 goals in 46 league matches,[60] as well as ending the season having not conceded in their last six games; and conceding just two goals in their last 15 league matches.[61] In May 2010, Roberts signed a new two-year contract with Stevenage. On signing the new deal, Roberts said "there was never any doubt that I wanted to stay here, I love the club and love the fans. It will be a privilege to lead the team in the Football League".[59] At the Football Conference's Annual Presentation Dinner, he was named in the Team of the Year, alongside fellow Stevenage defenders Ronnie Henry and Scott Laird.[62]

"I do not mind admitting that there were a few tears. In the dressing room afterwards there was a mixture of enjoyment and reflection on what we have achieved".

Roberts, on Stevenage earning back-to-back promotions after their 1–0 play-off final victory over Torquay United in May 2011.[63]

Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Roberts scored in a pre-season friendly victory over Hitchin Town.[64] He captained the side in the club's first ever Football League fixture, playing the whole game in a 2–2 home draw with Macclesfield Town.[65] Roberts scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season in Stevenage's 3–0 away win at local rivals Barnet in November 2010.[66] His second goal of the season came in the reverse fixture against Barnet in January 2011, this time scoring the fourth in a 4–2 win at Broadhall Way,[67] as well as netting in a 4–0 win against Cheltenham Town on 26 February.[68] A week later, Roberts was given a straight red card for bringing down Torquay United striker Chris Zebroski when he had rounded the goalkeeper, a match that Torquay would go on to win 2–0.[69] He scored twice against Macclesfield Town on 26 March 2011, taking his goal tally for the 2010–11 campaign to five goals.[70] Roberts scored his sixth goal of the season, his highest seasonal goal tally during his three years at Stevenage, in the club's 2–2 draw at Stockport County on 9 April 2011.[71] The goal, a half-volley at the back post, gave Stevenage a brief lead in the match just after half-time.[71] Stevenage faced one of Roberts' former employers, Accrington Stanley, in the 2010–11 League Two play-off semi-finals as a result of the club's sixth place finish.[72] Roberts played in both games, which Stevenage won by a 3–0 aggregate scoreline.[73][74] He led the side out at Old Trafford for the final against Torquay United on 28 May 2011, playing the whole match as Stevenage went on to win 1–0.[75] This meant that Roberts had captained the side to back-to-back promotions, earning a place in League One for the first time in their history.[63] Stevenage also had the best defensive record in League Two during the 2010–11 campaign, conceding 45 goals.[72] The campaign was also notable for Stevenage's FA Cup run into the Fourth Round, with Roberts playing in all five matches,[76] including the club's 3–1 home victory over Premier League opposition in the form of Newcastle United.[77] Roberts made 52 appearances in all competitions throughout the season, scoring six times.[76]

Prior to the start of the 2011–12 season, Roberts scored in Stevenage's pre-season victory against Dagenham & Redbridge on 30 July 2011.[78] He captained the side in their first ever League One fixture, a 0–0 draw against Exeter City on 6 August.[79] Roberts signed a two-year contract extension with the club on 26 August 2011.[80] Two weeks later, he scored his first competitive goal of the 2011–12 campaign in Stevenage's 1–1 away draw against Oldham Athletic on 10 September.[81] Roberts' goal came in the fourth minute of the match, heading in Michael Bostwick's shot to give Stevenage the lead.[82] His second goal of the campaign came in the club's exit from the Football League Trophy on 4 October, with Roberts scoring a 20 yard volley in injury-time to take the game to penalties, which Stevenage subsequently lost 4–3.[83] He described the volley as "easily the best goal of his career".[84] Roberts scored once again, on 29 October, in a 2–1 away victory against Bury. The goal was a "glancing header" from Joel Byrom's cross to double Stevenage's advantage in the match with fifteen minutes remaining.[85] A week later, he scored his fourth goal of the season in the club's 2–1 home win over Sheffield United, turning in the six yard box before lashing a shot into the roof of the net to give Stevenage a first-half lead.[86] Roberts' fifth goal of the campaign came in Stevenage's last home game of 2011, scoring with a header from Robin Shroot's cross to give ten-man Stevenage a two-goal lead in an eventual 2–1 home victory against Tranmere Rovers.[87] Following Graham Westley's departure to Preston North End on 13 January 2012, Roberts was made player-manager for Stevenage's away trip to Rochdale,[88] with the club securing a 5–1 victory at Spotland on 14 January.[89] He remained in-charge of the team for two further matches, a 1–1 draw at Scunthorpe United,[90] and a 4–2 home victory against Milton Keynes Dons,[91] until the appointment of manager Gary Smith allowed Roberts to concentrate on the playing side of the game.[92] Under Roberts' guidance, Stevenage secured seven points out of a possible nine.[89][90][91] He scored in successive games towards the latter stages of the season; a late equaliser against Preston North End,[93] as well as netting the fifth goal in the club's 6–0 away win against Yeovil Town on 14 April 2012.[94] Roberts played every minute of all 56 of Stevenage's games during the campaign, scoring seven goals from defence, with the club narrowly losing out in the play-off semi-finals.[95] Stevenage also made it to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup, the furthest the club had reached in the competition; with Roberts playing in all six cup matches, including two matches against Tottenham Hotspur as the club took the Premier League side to a replay.[96] He was also named as Stevenage's Player of the Year at the end of the season, becoming only the third player to win the award twice.[97][98]

Roberts playing for Stevenage in March 2013

In the summer of 2012, Stevenage announced that they had rejected several bids for Roberts, along with defensive partner Jon Ashton, from fellow League One side Doncaster Rovers.[99][100] Despite the strong transfer speculation over the summer, he captained the side in Stevenage's first game of the 2012–13 season, scoring the third goal in a 3–1 win over AFC Wimbledon in the League Cup.[101] Shortly after the game, Stevenage released a statement announcing they would not be selling Roberts during the season.[100][102] His second goal of the campaign came in another cup competition, scoring from close range to briefly restore parity in a 3–2 defeat away to Dagenham & Redbridge in the Football League Trophy in September 2012.[103] Roberts scored his first league goal of the season in Stevenage's 4–1 loss to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, scoring an equaliser just before half-time, heading in Filipe Morais's corner.[104] In February 2013, Roberts was one of three players shortlisted by the Football League for the Player in the Community award as a result of his work in the local community over the past few years.[105][106][107] The club stated — "we are extremely proud that Mark has been shortlisted for this award, he is a credit to the football club and his day to day work and support of the community scheme and the club's community work is due worthy recognition".[107] Following the departure of manager Gary Smith in March 2013, Roberts was once again placed in temporary charge while the club searched for a new manager.[108] Just four days later, he took charge of Stevenage's televised away trip to promotion-chasing Tranmere Rovers, which ended in a 3–1 defeat.[109] In Stevenage's next match, on 29 March 2013, Roberts scored a first-half header in a 1–1 away draw with Crawley Town, briefly giving Stevenage the lead despite them having to play with ten men for most of the match following Miguel Comminges' early dismissal.[110] In what was his last match in caretaker charge, Roberts stated he was "proud of the phenomenal performance", and that "the attitude, the way the lads reacted to the adversity we faced was probably something I haven't seen all season, to that level anyway".[110][111] A day later, Graham Westley was re-appointed as Stevenage manager, who brought Roberts to the club in 2008, and as a result Roberts was again able to concentrate solely on the playing side of his game.[112][113] He played 48 times during the season, scoring four goals.[114] During his successful four-and-a-half year spell at Stevenage, Roberts made 239 appearances in all competitions, an appearance record that places him sixth on the club's all time appearance list, and scored 27 goals.[115]

Fleetwood Town[edit]

Following the expiry of his contract at Stevenage, rejecting the club's offer of a new contract, Roberts signed for League Two side Fleetwood Town on a free transfer.[116][117] On joining Fleetwood, Roberts stated — "I was massively impressed with this club from the first moment. Joining Fleetwood is an exciting prospect and I jumped at the chance after seeing the plans and hearing the chairman's vision".[116] Shortly before the start of the 2013–14 season, Roberts was named as Fleetwood's new captain, stating it was a "massive honour to be named as club captain for the season".[118] He scored just six minutes into his Fleetwood debut, also the first League Two goal of the new campaign, courtesy of a powerful header in a 3–1 home victory over Dagenham & Redbridge.[119]

Personal life[edit]

Roberts was born and raised in Northwich, Cheshire.[2] Roberts studied sports journalism at Staffordshire University, graduating in 2012.[120] He supports Manchester United, and was a season ticket holder at Old Trafford, where he sat in the Stretford End.[2][121]

Honours[edit]

Stevenage

Individual

Career statistics[edit]

As of 26 May 2014.
Club Season League[A] FA Cup League Cup Other[B] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Crewe Alexandra 2004–05[8] 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 0
2005–06[123] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2006–07[124] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 5 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 0
Vauxhall Motors (loan) 2003–04[4] 19 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 3
Total 19 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 19 3
Southport (loan) 2005–06[19] 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Total 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Chester City (loan) 2005–06[13] 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Total 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Southport (loan) 2005–06[19] 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
Total 12 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 12 0
Halifax Town (loan) 2006–07[125] 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 1
Total 13 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 1
Northwich Victoria 2006–07[126][127] 23 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 27 1
Total 23 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 27 1
Accrington Stanley 2007–08[28] 34 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 37 0
Total 34 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 37 0
Northwich Victoria 2007–08[31] 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 1
2008–09[35] 20 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 20 1
Total 29 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 2
Stevenage 2008–09[128][129] 27 3 0 0 0 0 7 2 34 5
2009–10[130][131] 40 4 3 0 0 0 6 1 49 5
2010–11[76] 42 6 5 0 1 0 4 0 52 6
2011–12[132] 46 6 6 0 1 0 3 1 56 7
2012–13[133] 44 2 1 0 2 1 1 1 48 4
Total 199 21 15 0 4 1 21 5 239 27
Fleetwood Town 2013–14[134] 33 3 3 0 1 0 7 0 44 3
Total 33 3 3 0 1 0 7 0 44 3
Career total 374 31 19 0 7 1 33 5 435 39
A. ^ The "League" column constitutes appearances and goals in the Football League and Football Conference.
B. ^ The "Other" column constitutes appearances and goals in the FA Trophy, Football League Trophy and play-offs.

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External links[edit]