Football: Marsh Revels in Amazing Journey to Accrington ; Midfielder Enjoying Life after Moving from Liverpool to UniBond League Leaders Via Turkey and West Ham
Shaw, Phil, The Independent (London, England)
DURING THE 1990s, when Mike Marsh played alongside Ian Rush for Liverpool, a television advert extolled the virtues of milk. A small boy who aspired to emulate the great Welsh striker was seen warning another urchin to drink his daily pinta, or he would "end up playing for Accrington Stanley".
Marsh grins at its mention, aware that his current status might suggest he did not quaff enough of the white stuff. For after a career as chequered as a Croatia shirt, which has taken him from Anfield to Istanbul via West Ham and Coventry, with further stops in football's nether regions, he has actually "ended up", aged 33, playing for Accrington.
Superficially, it reads like a riches-to-rags story; a stark contrast with the fortunes, and fortune, of another former Liverpool colleague. Steve McMan-aman is paid pounds 65,000 a week to play with Zinedine Zidane, Raul and Ronaldo for the European Cup holders, Real Madrid. Marsh, who never made more than pounds 1,200 a week when they were midfield allies, earns a part-timer's peanuts with the UniBond League leaders.
Malign fate, in the form of the knee injury which ended his League career, does surface in Marsh's story. But to those who assume he must be down on his luck to be turning out for a club famous for folding in mid-season in the Fourth Division, he offers this positive rebuttal: "I've had an absolute ball. To earn a living playing football for 10 years was beyond my wildest dreams. And I'm still loving it."
Marsh begrudges "Macca" nothing, occasionally chatting to him by phone, although their sporting roots are as different as Accrington's Crown Ground and the Bernabeu Stadium. McManaman, despite being a boyhood Everton fan, was nurtured in Liverpool's youth academy. Marsh came to the attention of the club he followed home and away when playing for Kirkby Town under- 18s and for a "boozer" called The Railway.
The pub team were sponsored by a DIY firm run by Phil Thompson (now Gerard Houllier's assistant), whose endorsement won Marsh a trial at Anfield in 1988. Kenny Dalglish signed him and he went, in months, from park football to playing for the champions, the first of 100 games with Liverpool.
"I'd have settled for one," the "Born-and-bred Red" admits. "But with hindsight I feel I was a much better player than I showed at Anfield. I'd come from my home-town club, who are now defunct, and suddenly I was playing for Liverpool. I was there six years and spent the first five feeling overawed by people I was working with. I'd have had a better career if I'd joined another club."
Overshadowing his sojourn was the Hillsborough disaster. "The club normally took squad players to semi-finals but they let me go with my mates from Kirkby. We were in the Leppings Lane End, in the seats above where it happened. People I'd gone to school with died. When Liverpool first played at Sheffield Wednesday after the disaster, I was a substitute. …
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Publication information: Article title: Football: Marsh Revels in Amazing Journey to Accrington ; Midfielder Enjoying Life after Moving from Liverpool to UniBond League Leaders Via Turkey and West Ham. Contributors: Shaw, Phil - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: November 2, 2002. Page number: 5. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.