Jack the Lad: Remember the name?

16th January 2018

Loyal supporter and website columnist Jack the Lad recalls the nomadic career of a player who represented both the Swans and Wolves.

Steve Mardenborough...remember him? Many Swans fans possibly won’t, most Wolves fans definitely will and those Liverpool fans who do remember him will want to banish his name from their memories.

With the Swans entertaining both Wolves and Liverpool in the space of a week, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to recall the career of a former Jack who was one of football’s most travelled characters.

Mardenborough shot to fame back in January 1984 when he was drafted into a relegation-bound Wolves side at the last minute to face champions-elect Liverpool at Anfield.

The Reds were flying high at the top of the old First Division and well on their way to landing the title as well as the League Cup and European Cup.

Liverpool were at the height of their powers. Between 1980 and 1986 they won the title five times. They won the European Cup twice, the FA Cup once and the League Cup four times (in a row).

Wolves arrived on Merseyside rooted firmly to the bottom of the table. They had not won at Anfield for 33 years.

The Liverpool side boasted household names such as Grobbelaar, Neal, Hansen, Lawrenson, Nicol, Whelan, Rush and Souness.

Wolves’ line-up featured less well-known names such as Towner, Pender, Troughton and the 19-year-old Mardenborough, who was only told he was playing on the morning of the match due to an injury to Mel Eaves.

But less than 10 minutes into the match a footballing miracle happened when Mardenborough, who had never scored while wearing the Old Gold, got a combination of head and shoulder to a cross and the ball looped over Grobbelaar and into the net.

For the next 80-plus minutes Wolves managed to keep the shackles on one of the most successful sides in the history of British football and Mardenborough was an instant hero as the visitors celebrated a shock victory.

However, in a Wolves side destined for the drop, Mardenborough was unable to scale those dizzy heights for the Midlands side again and only started one more game for the Molineux club.

After a short loan spell at Cambridge United, the striker joined the Third Division Swans in July 1984, just six months after his Anfield heroics.

Things started well at the Vetch for Mardenborough under manager Colin Appleton as he banged in six goals during his first three months of the season.

But when John Bond took over as manager following Appleton's sacking, Mardenborough scored only one more goal – against Bristol Rovers in December. By the end of the season he was being used mainly as a substitute.

Although the Swans managed to avoid relegation to the old Fourth Division, Steve was given a free transfer at the end of the season, along with a certain Dean Saunders.

Their paths went in slightly different directions. While Saunders would go on to star for the likes of Aston Villa and Liverpool and earn 75 Wales caps, Mardenborough plied his trade travelling around a host of clubs in the lower divisions.

These included Newport County, Cardiff City, Hereford United, Cheltenham Town, Darlington, Lincoln City, Scarborough, Stafford Rangers and Colchester United, before he made his way back to the Vetch 10 years after he had left.

However, he only made one more appearance under manager Bobby Smith before returning to Newport and then dropping down to the Welsh League where he travelled right across Wales, playing for Cwmbran Town, Inter Cardiff, Aberystwyth Town, Rhayader Town, Haverfordwest County, Port Talbot Town, Llanelli, Carmarthen Town and Barry Town.

Mardenborough eventually hung up his much-travelled boots in 2003.

If you Google his surname these days the results are more likely to be based on his son, Jann, who has become a successful racing driver after winning Nissan's GT Academy gaming competition.

However, Jann may have competed at the Le Mans 24-hour race, but he will still have to go some to match his dad's heroics all those years ago at Anfield.

C'mon you Swans!