Away From The Numbers

MARK STAUNTON JOINS EAST FIFE

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East Fife announced before the Dunfermline friendly on July 21st that they had secured the signature of Mark Staunton.

Mark Staunton as bobblehead. Picture courtesy of www.travellingbairn.co.uk website.
Mark is a 20 year old, 5'10" defender turned striker, and played a couple of pre-season games as a trialist and got on the scoresheet twice in the process, impressing Stevie Crawford enough to sign the player.

Mark's senior footballing career started at Celtic in July 2004, where he was an 'S' form signing before securing a full time contract with the Parkhead club in August 2005. He made the move to Parkhead after impressing with East End FC boys club

As is so often the case with the Old Firm, opportunities for a young player to break into the first team were limited and although he had been playing in Celtic's under 19 side aged just 17, he made the decision to make the move to London, joining Charlton Athletic in a 100,000 three year deal in the summer of 2006.

Charlton had been watching Mark for a year before they took him to the Valley, having come to their attention whilst playing for Scotland under 17's in a European Championship qualifying game.

Mark was happy with the move and spoke of the frustration many young players must feel at the Old Firm: "I had my best season last year and only managed a couple of appearances for their U19s. I felt I wasn't really being pushed on and hopefully I can do that here."

Mark Staunton at Charlton. Photo courtesy of www.charlton-athletic.co.uk
His time down south was to last only a year, not helped by a hamstring injury and a bit of homesickness. Alan Pardew decided not to keep him in his plans anymore and a number of clubs on both sides of the border were interested in signing him, but Mark left Charlton for a move back north to join the Falkirk academy for the 2007/08 season.

Mark's move to Falkirk Stadium (I still so want to say Brockville!), was an instant success and he was instrumental in the Bairns wins over Celtic and St Mirren in the under 19 League. So much so in fact that the coaches in the League voted him the inaugural "Under 19 Clydesdale Bank Rising Star" for August 2007.

Although Mark continued to impress in the under 19's Falkirk wanted him to get more experience and loaned him out to Berwick just after Christmas 2007. Mark played 3 times for the Shielfield side before moving to Ayr United on emergency loan for the next month, making only two appearances in the process.

He returned to Falkirk but last season he failed to break into the first team, although he was an unused sub on eight occasions, and was freed at the end of the season without playing a first team game for the Bairns.

His footballing journey has now taken him to Bayview and hopefully will keep banging in goals as he has in the pre-season.

It's an interesting story for Mark as he has always played as a defender, but the Craw obviously sees something in him as a striker and so far he's proving him right.

When Charlton signed him they knew that he was small for a central defender but were impressed with how good he was in the air, with Academy manager Steve Gritt commenting "he gets there first".

In Mark we have a player who is considered a good prospect and has won 9 caps for Scotland at under 16 level and 5 at under 17 level. He has also been part of Scotland's under 19 squad but was never capped at this level.

Mark Staunton with his under 19 rising star award
It's not just his "Rising Star" award though that takes pride and place in Mark's trophy cabinet, he also has one other award and claim to fame to tell you about.

On 22nd September 2006, Mark appeared on a "Young Footballers" edition of the BBC show "Ready Steady Cook" - and won! We're trying to get hold of some footage!

Welcome to the Club Mark. We look forward to seeing you on the pitch and if you feel like knocking us up some nice food after the match then feel free.


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