Friday, 31 December 2010
245 Mark Bailey
Position : Midfield
Played : 1996-97 to 1998-99
Appearances : 67
Goals : 1
Graham Barrow rarely signed young players and it's perhaps just as well given how this one turned out. Mark was signed from Stoke having come through their YTS scheme but failing to make the first team.
Mark taught me one useful lesson - that performances in the reserves are no guide to how a player will perform on the big stage. This was the time when reserve games were accessible- played at Spotland on a Wednesday night - and Mark caught the eye as an energetic midfuielder with a decent shot. It wasn't long before he got a first team outing away at Torquay in December 1996. He had two runs in the side that season making 15 appearances altogether and looked a no better than adequate substitute if Deary or Gouck were missing.
It was the following season that he attracted such opprobrium when Barrow started picking him ahead of Mark Stuart and playing him out wide. Firstly he had no skill to beat a man and even when he could take the full back for pace we were lucky if the subsequent "cross" stayed in play. I can't think of any other player in our history who was so obviously inadequate for the role he was being asked to play. I think for many fans it was the persistent selection of Bailey that turned them against a manager who was picking players for their "attitude" rather than ability. After a dismal performance away at Exeter a member of the Supporters club committee who had sponsored him for the season tried to defend him and had his unsavoury past announced to all who were leaving the ground. This had a knock-on effect on Mark's confidence so that even when he got back to a central role he seemed barely able to control the ball.
Defiantly Barrow continued to select him the following season having freed Gouck and we finally got a goal from him , a low header which won the home game against Shrewsbury in September 1998. The following month he got injured against Leyton Orient and never really got his place back, most of his subsequent games being late substitute appearances. It looked like Barrow now knew he couldn't afford to play him as his job came under threat. He was released straight after Barrow's sacking.
Mark started training with Northwich but had to drop down to Winsford Uinited and then Lancaster City to see some action. Northwich then recalled him in January 2000 and he got a regular place. In fact he did well enough to earn a return to League action when Alan Buckley signed him for Lincoln in August 2001. Playing as a wingback in a 5 man defence Mark did well and is fondly remembered at Sincil Bank. In April 2004 he scored a goal from inside his own half against Carlisle (who were trying the Jimmy Glass routine again ) See it here Bailey wonder goal . That was one of his last games for Lincoln as he moved on a Bosman to Macclesfield in the summer. He spent 2 seasons there but was hit by a series of injuries and only made 26 appearances. Leaving the club in April 2006 he signed a short deal with Peterborough but never played for them and signed for Stafford Rangers in September. His second game for them was a 6-0 defeat at Stevenage and that appears to have been his last match in football.