Mark Beard (footballer)
|Full name||Mark Beard|
|Date of birth||8 October 1974|
|Place of birth||Roehampton, London, England|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)|
|LTB Sussex Academy|
|1997||→ Southend United (loan)||9||(0)|
|2008–2010||Haywards Heath Town||56||(6)|
|2010–2011||Tooting & Mitcham United||3||(1)|
|2008–2010||Haywards Heath Town|
|2010–2011||Tooting & Mitcham United|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 7 May 2011.
Mark Beard (born 8 October 1974) is an English former professional footballer, currently manager of Loxwood FC who play in the Sussex County Division One.
Beard began his career at Millwall in 1991, captaining the club to FA Youth Cup success that year. He signed his first professional contract in 1993, and made his first-team debut shortly after. He spent two years at the club, scoring a memorable goal against Arsenal in an FA Cup victory in January 1995. He was transferred to Sheffield United ahead of the 1995–96 season for a fee over £100,000, spending three years at the club. In 1998, he joined Southend United, who he had also spent time on loan at in 1997. He went on to enjoy regular first-team football with the Essex side over two spells, as well as having two spells at Kingstonian. In 2004, Beard moved to Spain to set up a youth academy for Spanish side UD San Pedro, eventually ending up as part of the playing squad. After two years in Spain, he returned to England to sign for Stevenage Borough, spending one year with the club and winning the FA Trophy as part of the first side to win a competitive cup final at the new Wembley Stadium in May 2007. Beard went on to spend time at AFC Wimbledon during the 2007–08 season, and the club were promoted to the Conference South via the play-offs during his time there.
He was briefly assistant manager at St Albans City in 2007, and, a year later, joined Sussex County Football League Division Three side Haywards Heath Town to set up the club's youth system, but ended up firstly playing for the club, and then managing the side during the 2009–10 season. Beard was then appointed as manager of Isthmian Premier Division club Tooting & Mitcham, spending 18-months at the club before leaving in December 2011.
Beard started his career with Millwall, joining the club's youth system in 1991 "straight from school". He was captain of the successful youth team that won the FA Youth Cup, beating Sheffield Wednesday in the final. During his time at youth level, he also helped the side win the Southern Junior Cup, as well as finishing runners-up in the South East Counties league. After impressing in the youth team, Millwall manager Mick McCarthy gave Beard his first professional contract in 1993. He made his debut as an 18-year-old, playing in Millwall's 4–1 victory against Watford. Beard went on to make 18 appearances that season, scoring one goal. During the 1994–95 season, he was a regular in the first-team, with the highlight of his campaign coming when he scored in Millwall's 2–0 win over Arsenal in an FA Cup third round replay at Highbury in January 1995.
In the summer of 1995, Beard was transferred to Sheffield United for a fee of £117,500, with Dave Bassett signing him. He made his debut as a substitute in a 2–0 loss to Tranmere Rovers in August 1995, and went on to make 56 appearances during his time at the club. At the start of the 1997–98 season, Beard was loaned out to Southend United for two months, making his debut in a 1–1 draw against Oldham Athletic. He went on to make ten appearances during the brief loan agreement. He returned to his parent club in January 1998, making four appearances during the second half of the campaign. Ahead of the 1998–99 season, Beard signed for Southend on a permanent basis. He was a regular during the season, making 40 appearances in all competitions, and earning the Player of the Year award at the end of the season. He remained at Southend for the 1999–2000 campaign, starting in the club's first game of the season, a 2–1 home win over Plymouth Argyle. He made 42 appearances during the season as Southend finished 16th in Division Three, scoring what turned out to be his only goal for the club in a 2–1 defeat to Hull City in November 1999. During his first spell at Southend, he made 82 appearances for the Essex side.
He then signed for Conference National side Kingstonian on a free transfer in July 2000. He made his debut for the side in a 1–0 home victory over Northwich Victoria on 19 August 2000, and made 29 appearances for the club during a season in which Kingstonian were relegated. The club did reach the Fourth round of the FA Cup that season, narrowly losing to Bristol City in a replay after the two teams had drawn at Ashton Gate, with Beard playing in both matches. He left the club at the end of the season, and subsequently rejoined Southend United two months into the 2001–02 season, making 17 appearances that season. Another season at Southend followed, during which he made 42 appearances, before leaving the club at the end of the 2002–03 season. He returned to Kingstonian for the following season, with the club plying their trade in the Isthmian League Premier Division, scoring six times in 40 league games. At the end of the season, he travelled to Spain to set up a youth academy at Marbella based club U.D San Pedro in the Spanish Third Division, and ended up as part of the playing squad during his time there.
After a two-year spell both playing and coaching in Spain, Beard signed for Stevenage Borough of the Conference National in September 2006. On signing for Stevenage, Beard stated – "I got my brother Matt to ring a few managers for me. 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". He had previously played alongside Stevenage manager Stimson at Southend. Beard made his debut for Stevenage in a 6–0 home victory over Stafford Rangers on 9 September, coming on as a 73rd-minute substitute in the club's first win of the season. He made his first start a week later in a defeat to Cambridge United, before scoring his first goal three days later in a 1–0 victory against Weymouth at Broadhall Way. Beard was almost ever-present during the campaign, making 49 appearances in all competitions, scoring three goals. This appearance tally included eight appearances in the FA Trophy, with Beard playing every minute en route to Stevenage becoming the first team to win a competitive cup final at the new Wembley Stadium, beating Kidderminster Harriers 3–2 in-front of a competition record crowd of 53,262. Despite being a regular fixture in the side, he was released at the end of the season – "I still felt I had another couple of seasons in me but Stimmo wanted to bring Johnny Martin in. I was gutted to leave".
Following his release from Stevenage, Beard joined Conference South side St Albans City as player-assistant manager in June 2007. He was assistant to Ritchie Hanlon, who stated – "Mark has all the relevant coaching badges and I'm looking forward to working with him as he is someone I trust. He will bring experience to the team and is someone the other players can look up to". However, Hanlon was sacked just ten games into the 2007–08 season, and Beard subsequently departed too. He then signed for AFC Wimbledon of the Isthmian Premier Division towards the latter stages of 2007, and he helped the side gain promotion to the Conference South, scoring once in 17 league appearances. He left Wimbledon at the end of the season, and then spent two years at Haywards Heath Town in the Sussex County League, making 56 appearances and scoring six times, as well as managing the side during the 2009–10 campaign. Following an injury crisis as manager of Tooting and Mitcham United, he briefly returned to playing during the 2010–11 season, scoring one goal in three games. He had a short spell at Sussex County league outfit Loxwood FC.
Beard gained his UEFA coaching badges in 2007, and already had previous experience of coaching in both Spain and Cyprus. He was appointed Director of Youth at Spanish Third Division side UD San Pedro, combining the position with his playing duties. With the aid of former Spurs midfielder Vinny Samways, Beard watched over seven academy teams before returning to the England when he signed for Stevenage. He was brought in to set up a youth academy at Sussex County League side Haywards Heath Town in 2008, and ultimately ended up managing the side during the 2009–10 season.
He was appointed manager of Isthmian Premier Division team Tooting and Mitcham United in July 2010, spending 18-months in-charge, describing his tenure as "a great experience which will stand me in good stead for my future as a coach/manager". He left the club in December 2011, stating – "It was on the cards for the last couple of months. It is down to the results, they haven't been good enough and for one reason or another we have not been winning games. It has been a struggle. Last season, we didn't have a lot of money and we worked hard with a whole lot of youngsters and, this year, too many things have been going on behind the scenes and affecting things on the pitch".
- Stevenage Borough
- AFC Wimbledon
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