Formers Imps hero Stallard backs draw in big match

Mark Stallard was pretty much a hero wherever he played. The robust striker featured for City in a scintillating, but ultimately disappointing, 2006/07, winning friends with his all-action displays. Before that he became a hero at Meadow Lane too, spending five years in the black and white of the Magpies.

Talking to Notts County’s official site, Stallard has spoken of his love for both sides.

“”Having played for both teams and having good friends on both sides, I’d favour a draw, but I don’t think it would be a bad result for either team. It’s tough to pick a favourite but you couldn’t back against Notts with the form they are in.”

Stallard scored 21 times for City in 73 appearances, his most prolific spell coming during the free-flowing days of John Schofield, before the utter collapse. He opened his City account with a brace away at Hereford in a 2-1 win, also scoring twice against Accrington and away at Wycombe before helping himself to two as we beat Rochdale 7-1. He acknowledges that Sincil Bank will be packed to the rafters for the mouth-watering clash, with County coming off the back of a wonderful FA Cup win against Brentford.

“Sometimes you can go back to the league and there isn’t the same feeling about it when you are playing in front of 3,000 or 4,000 people, but it will be a sell-out at Sincil Bank with a fantastic atmosphere. Notts supporters will travel well, as they have done all season, and that’s what you want as a player, to be involved in the big occasions.”

Stallard, who scored winning goals for City against Peterborough and Torquay as well as a brace as we went down 3-2 to Swindon, is now a commentator for BBC Radio Notts and will doubtless receive a warm welcome from City.

After leaving the Imps during the Peter Jackson ‘revolution’ he went to Mansfield along with lifelong friend Adie Moses. The two later managed the Stags for a brief while before being replaced by another dubious name from City’s past.

“I think the Mansfield board looked at us as seniors, knew we were liked in the dressing room, and so when they asked, we got on and did it,” Adie Moses told the BBC in 2009. “Fortunately for us the results were good and we beat Kettering Town away 3-1, which was the result of the season. I think Stalls might have liked to have been given a shot until the end of the season.”

After two games they were replaced by David Holdsworth. Finally, in October 2009, Stallard retired from the professional game.He left his final club, Corby Town, citing an unwillingness to draw a wage from the Northamptonshire outfit if he could no longer produce his best football for the team, Manager Graham Drury said at the time “I wish I could work with more people as honest and professional as Mark Stallard.”

I think honest and professional sums up a man held in equally high regard on both sides this Saturday afternoon.

The pictures in this article come from the amazing Graham Burrell. His work can also be found in ‘Imperfect Focus’, still available by clicking on the cover below.

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