The departure of our Captain has been on the cards for 18 months but that doesn’t make seeing him go any easier to take. What is there left to say about Mark Roberts that hasn’t been said a thousand times over? Nothing, probably. But it’s worth saying it nonetheless.
Robbo joined us on loan from Northwich Victoria when we were a down-on-our-luck, going nowhere, stuck-in-a-rut Conference club and what followed was truly remarkable.
As Stevenage fans, we talk often of the countless loan players who turned out to be useless and we can never put our finger on quite why. Poor choice by managers? The players having no real affinity to the club? We must’ve used up all of our luck with loanees when we snatched Roberts from Northwich all those Januarys ago.
On the field he was tireless, courageous, passionate, proud, dogged and brave; he demanded that from others too. He wore his heart on his sleeve and his reaction after a defeat was never hidden; every defeat seemed to physically hurt him. His reaction at the full time whistle following the defeat at White Hart Lane summed him up at a glance. Nothing was impossible.
Off the field, he was a terrific ambassador for the football club – intelligent, professional, proud and friendly. Always willing to stop for a chat with the fans (even when they were drunken, cooing idiots!) and his impromptu appearance on A Load Of Old Toffee will remain one of the most embarrassing, awkward and brilliant moments of my Stevenage supporting life.
I could write endlessly about my respect and admiration for Mark Roberts but, suffice to say, since the very first day he arrived and put on that armband, he has epitomised absolutely everything that any football fan could ever want from any player. In an age where there isn’t really a respectable role model in the football world I feel pleased that my club was captained by a player that young Stevenage fans could look up to – the perfect example of what can be achieved if you work hard, don’t give up and have the right attitude.
Heck, I’m nearly 30 years old and I’ve never idolised anyone like I idolise Mark Roberts! I’m sure this article will be read by some as an embarrassing, sycophantic splurge, but I’ll genuinely remember Mark Roberts as the greatest player to ever pull on a Stevenage shirt and I doubt he’ll ever be properly replaced.
Cheers for everything, Mark – and the very best of luck.