Mark Aizlewood

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Mark Aizlewood
Personal information
Full name Mark Aizlewood
Date of birth (1959-10-01) 1 October 1959 (age 56)
Place of birth Newport, Wales
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Playing position Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1975–1978 Newport County 38 (3)
1978–1982 Luton Town 98 (2)
1982–1987 Charlton Athletic 152 (9)
1987–1989 Leeds United 70 (3)
1989–1990 Bradford City 39 (1)
1990–1993 Bristol City 101 (3)
1993–1995 Cardiff City 39 (3)
1995–1996 Merthyr Tydfil
1996–1997 Aberystwyth Town 30 (1)
1997–2000 Cwmbran Town 69 (0)
National team
1979–1980 Wales U21 2 (0)
1986–1994 Wales 39 (0)
Teams managed
2012– Carmarthen Town

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.


Mark Aizlewood (born 1 October 1959) is a Welsh former professional footballer and Wales international who is currently managing Carmarthen Town. Having started his career at his hometown club Newport County, he went on to make over five hundred appearances in the Football League, most notably for Charlton Athletic, Leeds United and Bristol City, and gained 39 caps for Wales.[1]

Following his retirement, Aizlewood worked as an assistant manager with Carmarthen Town on two occasions and later worked as an assistant manager to Ian Rush at Chester City. In 2012, he returned to Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town as manager and lead the club to consecutive Welsh League Cup victories in 2013 and 2014.[2]

Early life[edit]

Aizlewood was born in Newport and grew up in the Ringland area. As a child, he attended Alway Juniors school and then Hartridge High School in Newport.[3] His older brother, Steve was also a professional footballer.

Playing career[edit]

Aizlewood joined his home-town club Newport County at the age of 14, earning a wage of five pound per week to cover expenses, making his professional debut two years later at the age of just 16, whilst he was still attending school.[4] He played for Newport for three years, leaving in 1978 to join Luton Town for a fee of £50,000, becoming David Pleat's first signing at the club[3][5] After four seasons at Luton, he moved on to Charlton Athletic in 1982, again for a fee of £50,000.[6] He was later appointed club captain and was named the clubs player of the year for both the 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons.[4]

In 1987, Charlton received an offer of £200,000 from Leeds United for Aizlewood. Despite resistance from manager Lennie Lawrence, Aizlewood decided to accept the move as the club were then managed by one of his boyhood idols, Billy Bremner.[7] Signed as a replacement for Ian Snodin, who had left the club to join Everton, he made his debut in a goalless draw with Sheffield United on 7 February 1987. He became influential almost immediately, missing just one league match for the rest of the season as Leeds finished in fourth position and went on to reach the play-off final, losing to his former club Charlton.[7] Aizlewood was also appointed club captain. However, the following season, Leeds struggled to repeat their good form, following the sales of Andy Ritchie and Ian Baird, and Bremner was sacked from his position as manager. Aizlewood himself became a target for some fans frustration and during a Second Division clash with Walsall at the end of the 1988–89 season, he reacted to jeers by Leeds own fans by displaying a V sign to the crowd after scoring in the closing stages to make the score 1–0.[7] Leeds manager Howard Wilkinson quickly brought on David Batty in place of Aizlewood, who reacted furiously toward Wilkinson and refused a seat on the bench, returning straight to the dressing room. He left the club soon after in a £125,000 move to Bradford City.[8][9] He spent one season at Valley Parade before moving on to Bristol City.

In 1993, he returned to Wales to sign for Cardiff City. In his one full season at Ninian Park, the club narrowly avoided relegation to Division Three but did reach the final of the Welsh Cup, losing 2–1 to Barry Town. During the following season, Aizlewood decided to leave the club in order to take up a player-coach role at Merthyr Tydfil.[4] He later finished his career with spells at Welsh Premier League sides Aberystwyth Town and Cwmbran Town before retiring in 2000.[6]

Aizlewood first played for Wales in 1986, and stayed an international until 1994, being capped 39 times during that time. His debut came in a 2–1 friendly defeat to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on 25 February 1986, his last appearance came on 14 December 1994 as Wales lost 3–0 to Bulgaria in a Euro 96 qualifier at Cardiff Arms Park. He never scored for Wales at senior level.[10]

Management and coaching career[edit]

Chester City[edit]

Aizlewood had a spell on the coaching staff of Carmarthen Town during 2003–04, but left to become assistant manager to Ian Rush at Chester City for 2004–05.[11] The club made an impressive start to the season and Rush was linked to the vacant Wales job but a difficult period in the second half of the season, winning just 2 out of 10 matches, saw the club fall down the table and pressure grew on Rush and his management team. On 4 April 2005, Aizlewood was sacked by Chester chairman Stephen Vaughan without Rush's knowledge.[8] Rush himself resigned two days later in protest of the decision, stating "Loyalty is vital in football and I am a loyal person. When a valued member of my team is dismissed against my wishes, I have no option but to follow my principles." When the pair left the club, Chester were nine points clear of the relegation zone, having been bottom of the table when they arrived.[12]

Carmarthen Town[edit]

Aizlewood worked as an agent briefly after leaving Chester as well as managing his business interests.[6] He was handed his first job in management in January 2012, returning to Carmarthen Town to replace Tomi Morgan, having previously worked there as assistant manager to Andrew York and Deryn Brace in separate spells.[13] The club were joint bottom of the Welsh Premier League on his appointment along with Newtown but Aizlewood was able to steer them away from relegation.[14] The following year, Aizlewood lead the club to the Welsh League Cup final, defeating The New Saints on penalties to claim the trophy for only the second time in the clubs history. They retained the trophy in the 2013–14 season, defeating Bala Town in the final.[2]

In November 2014, Aizlewood attempted to register himself as a player for Carmarthen, at the age of 55, following an injury crisis at the club prior to a league fixture against Rhyl.[15] However, the plans were ended following a fire at Rhyl's ground which postponed the fixture.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Addiction battle[edit]

Aizlewood speaks Welsh[17] and released his Welsh language autobiography in 2009, entitled Amddiffyn fy Hun (Defending Myself) in which he revealed his 27-year-long battle with alcoholism and gambling and contemplating suicide. All proceeds from the book were donated to former England player Tony Adams Sporting Chance charity.[3] His alcohol problem began as an 18 year old, during his time at Luton Town where he found himself with a large disposable income. Remarking on this period, Aizlewood has stated: "I was making a very good living [...] sometimes I didn't drink for two or three weeks, but then I'd drink for three of four days in one go." At his worst, Aizlewood was able to drink a bottle of brandy and 20 pints of lager in one session and still stand.[3] He also developed a gambling addiction and has admitted to losing up to £30,000 in a single day. In his book, Aizlewood confessed to once nearly attempting suicide during a trip to Rome in 2003 due to the severity of his addictions. He stated that on 14 February, he had stood on a motorway bridge in the Italian capital in the early hours of the morning and considered jumping.[3]

Punditry[edit]

Following his retirement from playing, Aizlewood worked as a pundit for BBC Wales, covering Welsh football, where he developed a reputation as an outspoken critic. He was particularly critical of Swansea City and their decision to sign several foreign players whilst playing in the lower leagues.[18] Swansea forward Giovanni Savarese, along with other players, was branded unreliable by Aizlewood and, following Savarese being dismissed for a deliberate elbow on Wrexham defender Mark McGregor during the 2001 FAW Premier Cup final, Aizlewood was accused of racism after calling Savarese a "coward" and stating "but that's foreigners for you".[19] His outspoken views of Swansea and their players made him a target for fans of the club and, in October 2002, Aizlewood was attacked by a group of Swansea fans, after commentating at a game against Rochdale at Vetch Field, who pushed him into a gate, causing him to suffer grazing to his eye. BBC Wales head of sport, Nigel Walker demanded that the club would assure Aizlewood's safety at future matches following the incident.[18]

Criminal proceedings[edit]

In 2004, Aizlewood was fined £1,800 after assaulting television presenter Jane Harvey during an interview for BBC investigative programme X-Ray by "grabbing her around the neck and pushing her down a flight of steps".[20] In 2012, Aizlewood was one of three men arrested into allegations of fraud regarding £1.6m of government funds that had been given to a company where Aizlewood was serving as a director.[21] Aizlewood was later banned from serving as a director of any company for six years, along with Paul Sugrue and two others.[22][23] In June 2016 Aizlewood was charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office [24]

Honours[edit]

Player[edit]

Cardiff City
1993–94[4]

Manager[edit]

Carmarthen Town
2012–13, 2013–14[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mark Aizlewood". Post War English & Scottish Football League A–Z Player's Database. Neil Brown. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c "Wales - List of League Cup finals". rsssf.com. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "My 27 year booze battle". South Wales Argus. 2009-11-13. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hayes, Dean (2006). The Who's Who of Cardiff City. Breedon Books. ISBN 1-85983-462-0. 
  5. ^ "Mark Aizlewood". Post War English & Scottish Football League A – Z Player's Database. Retrieved 6 May 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c Wash, Roger (2008). Hatters Heroes. Roger Wash. ISBN 978-0-9560832-0-3. 
  7. ^ a b c "Mark Aizlewood". He wore the shirt. Retrieved 3 June 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Ian Rush's assistant, Mark Aizlewood leaves". The Football Network. 2005-04-05. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  9. ^ "Aizlewood salute no Mark of respect". Yorkshire Evening Post. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Hanes Y Clwb / Club History". Carmarthen Town A.F.C. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  12. ^ "Rush walks out as Chester manager". BBC Sport. 6 April 2005. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  13. ^ "Aizlewood back with Carmarthen". South Wales Evening Post. Local World. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2013. 
  14. ^ "Aizlewood back with Carmarthen". South Wales Evening Post. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  15. ^ "Mark Aizlewood: Carmarthen Town boss could play aged 55". BBC Sport. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "Mark Aizlewood: Carmarthen Town boss comeback scuppered by fire". BBC Sport. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  17. ^ Heath, Tony (26 August 1996). "Welsh speak up for their ancient tongue". The Independent. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Aizlewood - no thoughts of hostile Vetch". WalesOnline. 27 January 2005. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  19. ^ ""Coward" Gio under attack by Aizlewood". The Mirror. 15 May 2001. Retrieved 4 June 2016. 
  20. ^ "Ex-footballer guilty of presenter attack". BBC News. 2004-06-21. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  21. ^ "SFO make arrests in football apprenticeship investigation". The Guardian. 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  22. ^ "Ex-County star Aizlewood banned as company director". South Wales Argus. 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  23. ^ "Case details for Mark Aizlewood". The Insolvency Service. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  24. ^ "Former Wales and County player appears in court over fraud allegations". South Wales Argus. 6 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016. 

External links[edit]