He’d only been a Rangers player for a matter of weeks when he trotted over to take a corner in his team’s Scottish Premier League clash with the Hearts, at Tynecastle. Like all professionals, he was focused solely on the game and swinging in the best cross he could to give his team-mates.
Mark Walters wouldn’t notice the banana that was thrown in his direction as he whipped the ball into the box and supported the attack. But this was the norm now. In the short space of time that the former Aston Villa starlet had made the move north of the border, he’d been subjected to vilest racist abuse he’d come across in his still burgeoning career. He was 23.
Six years earlier, having just turned 17, the speedy winger had been promoted to the Aston Villa first team just as the Birmingham club were conquering Europe. He hadn’t made the squad for the European Cup final win over Bayern Munich, but he had turned heads and marked himself out as one of the club’s most promising young talents.
Walters would go on to spend six topsy-turvy years with Villa in the English First Division. The succession of different managers and flirtations with either end of the table would mean there was rarely a dull moment for local lad.
Walters’s performances soon attracted interest from bigger clubs and Scottish side Rangers held a trump card when they came in for the exciting winger in late 1987. At the time, English clubs were banned from competing in European competitions so Scottish clubs were able to attract top English talent.
Walters signed for Rangers and was immediately thrown into the bear-pit of an ‘Old Firm’ clash with bitter rivals Celtic. It was testament to his strength of character that he was able to withstand the torrent of abuse from opposition fans, including monkey noise and various missiles thrown at him; bananas and other fruit, golf balls and darts. The incident at Hearts appeared to be something of a turning point, thanks partly to the media coverage it received and the authorities clamping down on the abuse Walters was suffering. He would go on to play three more seasons for Rangers, winning three league titles and two Scottish Cups before returning south of the border to join Liverpool in the summer of 1991.
He was brought to Merseyside by Graeme Souness, the man who had signed him for Rangers and finished his first season as an FA Cup winner with the Reds. The following season was the first of the newly-formed Premier League and Walters achieved the milestone of becoming Liverpool’s first ever scorer in the Premier League with his goal against Sheffield United in August 1992.
Walters won the League Cup with Liverpool in 1995 and after a number of loan spells with Stoke and Wolverhampton Wanderers, he signed for Southampton as they battled relegation in the second half of the 1995/96 season. At the end of that season, he was picked up by Swindon, who were then managed by his old Rangers and Liverpool boss Graeme Souness. He would go on to play over 100 times for the Robins before ending his career with a spell at Bristol Rovers. He retired from football in 2002 having played over 600 league games and he had one England cap.
Walters panned two unique eras in British football. He was one of a new wave of black players who were inspired by breakthrough players like Cyrille Regis in the early 1980s but also experienced the birth of the Premier League, which give rise to English club football’s global appeal.
Now the former Rangers and Liverpool star has documented his amazing and inspiring story in a new book called Wingin’ It, a must read for football fans!
Written with journalist and author Jeff Holmes, Wingin’ It, is an unflinching look at career which contained many euphoric moments, but was equally punctuated with gruesome and fearful chapters.
Walters takes readers through his early breakthrough years as a local boy made good at Villa and the challenges he endured, including being lucky to avoid the vile abuse of scout Ted Langford and becoming a hero to the Villa fans.
He documents in detail the horrific racist hate he suffered in Scotland, including a letter from the Ku Klux Klan and being targeted by a hail of missiles like bananas, a pig’s leg and darts. In the book, he reveals how dark humour got him through those early days at Rangers.
Manager Greame Souness jokingly remarked to him that ‘there would have been more problems if you were a Catholic than the fact that you are Black’. However, when the Gers did sign former Celtic striker Mo Johnston a year and a half after Walters arrived, Walter recalls saying to him “Mo, you’ve taken the pressure right off me!”
In later life, Walters reveals that it was his own faith that helped him reconcile his experiences in Scotland and ultimately forgive those who had racially abused him.
Walters also opens up about the regrets he would ultimately have about what seemed like a dream move to Liverpool and how the departure of Souness and the promotion of Roy Evans would mark the beginning of the end of the his time on Merseyside.
Walters response to racist abuse was always that he had to work twice as hard on the pitch. Unfortunately, it is a philosophy he applies to coaching opportunities in his post-playing days. Despite enlightenment among fans and managers about black players in the English game, in his book, Walters details his frustrations at the lack of coaching opportunities for black coaches. Even with the badges and qualifications – and his own mantra of ‘working twice as hard’ – it seems the former Aston Villa and Liverpool star still has some hurdles to clear.
Wingin’ It is a brutally honest and refreshing account of what is like for a black player to play in a transformative era of British football.
Wingin’ It: The Mark Walters Story by Jeff Holmes is out now. Pitch Publishing (£18.99).
Swipe Right – Taking your digital match on a real date!
The first date can bring out either your best or worst side but if you’ve never met in real life before, it’s an even more daunting prospect. However the truth is that we’ve become a truly digital nation, focused on finding love – and lust! – online rather than via more traditional methods.
You can forget about finding your soulmate staring over the fruit section in the supermarket; you’re now far more likely to hook up with someone after spotting their dating profile online. It may sound unromantic but it’s a far more practical way to filter out those who you’re not compatible with. Where else can you instantly find out their aspirations for the future without sounding vaguely stalker-ish?!
A Dating Revolution
Trends really started to change in the mid-1990s when clicking and swiping online started to take off with companies such as match.com leading the way. Online dating took the slightly pathetic lonely heart column and gave it a cool, new revamp, making it a trendy way to find love rather than the desperate plea it was often viewed as before.
And online dating has followed the new cultural norms; you don’t have to be searching for your one true love to hook up with someone. Regardless of your sexual orientation, tastes, lifestyle choices or budget, there’s a dating app online to suit anyone and everyone. From the casual hookups found on Tinder and Grindr, to more serious searchers on site such as eHarmony
‘There are dating sites for various esoteric preferences, and sites on which one can find more than one partner at a time. There are sites for women who want a man to father a child with them but not become a romantic partner. There are services for Jews, Christians, Muslims, Trump supporters, people who self-select as intelligent and vegans. There’s BikerKiss (“Two wheels, two hearts, one road”), FarmersOnly (“Single in the country”) and Ugly Bug Ball (“Dating for the aesthetically average”)’
The Economist – ‘How the internet has changed dating’ (Aug 2018)
Although online dating started out with a real stigma, it’s become far more socially acceptable and now it’s the norm to check out profiles online if you’re a singleton. According to one study, 5% of people admitted to meeting their spouse online with 15% of Americans saying they’ve used online dating.
Of course, the digital revolution hasn’t just made it easier to find love, lust or whatever else you’re searching for, it’s also a researcher’s paradise. With piles of data instantly accessible, it’s now easier than ever to compile stats on the dating habits of the nation. What is exciting, however, is that the statistics have shown that internet dating has been successful to maintain long-term relationships
Mr Thomas and Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University, work with data from a survey ‘How Couples Meet and Stay Together’, (Conducted by GFK, a research firm). They noticed that married people who met their partner online reported slightly higher relationship quality than those who met offline, and consequently were less likely to have broken up after a year of marriage.
But chatting online only gets you so far, then comes the first date!
To take the seriousness out of this article, here are some light heard recommendations for the daunting first date, lets face it, its hard already plucking up the courage to go to them, let alone finding the right place to go! Will you match up to your date’s expectations? And will you match up to theirs? Or even worse, will you discover that you’ve been cat-fished?
We can’t help you with any of the above questions, but here is that helping hand, planning the perfect place.
Scarfes Bar at Rosewood London -Holborn
As winter is coming, why not settle in by the fire at the romantic setting of Scarfes bar, the large lounges will surely bring you and your date closer together. It’s like a giant library in a grand old house but with a busy buzz without getting too crowded. With lots of art deco details, beautiful old books and live music throughout the week, this place will definitely impress your date.
There is a real gentlemen’s vibe here and the cocktail list is surprisingly innovative, it doesn’t rely on the straight classics so you can experiment with one or three concoctions here. Luxurious, great atmosphere and its central location, this could be a great place for the first, second or third date!
Street Xo – West End
If first impressions are to go by, this place is striking, a golden staircase leading to a dimly lit basement, nothing is ordinary here, dazzling neon signs, industrial but cosy, eccentric and crazy! The show begins with straight jacket style uniforms and wild cocktails, if this does not bag you a second date then we give up! Unless you didn’t want a second date, then this could be an expensive first!
Something casual to ‘see how it goes?’ try Disrepute, a little hideaway in Soho, plush, crushed velvet furniture and lots of booths to enjoy a cosy encounter!
Before you scroll past to another venue that sounds more affordable, hold your horses. Knightsbridge is indeed one of the wealthiest and most affluent areas of London – and that’s why it’s the perfect spot to impress your date.
You might feel a little out of place at first, surrounded by some of the richest people in the world swanning around in luxury cars and flashing designer togs, but relax and you’ll find some glorious places to grab a drink and a bite to eat.
Buddha Bar – Knightsbridge
If you enjoy a spot of tranquil but with a funky vibe, head over to Buddha Bar (but call ahead to check there’s no private events booked). Enjoy an impressive cocktail like the kiwi kukama (in-house infused citron vodka, elderflower liqueur, fresh kiwi, fresh cucumber and lemon bitters) or a decanted devil (AquaRiva reposado tequila shaken with Grand Marnier, jalapeno, lime juice and agave nectar, and smoked with pecan wood chips). Opt to enjoy an Asian inspired dinner here.
Skylon, Royal Festival Hall – Southbank
If you’re a native Londoner, the idea of heading over to the Southbank might sound like a bad idea, jostling against crowds of tourists and picking from a selection of average-but-overpriced chain restaurants.
However, if you know where to look you will find some real gems dotted around, and you can preface it with a nice stroll along the river.
If you and your date are thespians – read that carefully! – you might want to pay The Globe a visit first. The home of Shakespeare on the Southbank, there’s a year-round programme of events which include poetry, dance and theatre.
Ignore the mainstream restaurants that are packed with hordes of tourists and head to Skylon, found on the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall. With magnificent views over the river, it’s a romantic spot that’s sure to win you extra brownie points.
Zigfrid Von Underbelly – Shoreditch
If your plan is to impress your date by throwing some shapes on the dance floor, there’s no other place to go than Shoreditch.
The very epitome of modern cool, you’ll have the pick of nightspots, pubs, and clubs with some casual eateries too. The Book Club in Leonard Street is a nice, relaxed way to start the night, and you can get to know your digital date a bit better over a sharing platter. What better way to get ready to bust out your best moves than by feeding your face first?
For creative cocktails like no other, pop into Nightjar for a swift drink before heading over to the uber-cool Zigfrid Von Underbelly. Open 7 days a week with an underground club downstairs and a lounge bar and DJ upstairs, you’ll be getting your groove on until the sun comes up.
Watch This Space…
In the meantime, here at City Man, we love nothing more than to give Cupid a helping hand, so keep an eye out for future features about digital dating in the modern era.
Andy Goode, the man who doesn’t like to do things once
Retired twice from Rugby, Father to baby twins and after two hair transplants, introducing Andy Goode, the man who doesn’t like to do things once…
For fans of rugby, Andy Goode is a name that needs no introduction. An ex-professional player with a career that stretched over more than 18 years, his is a name synonymous with the sport. Holding the second highest scoring tally in Premiership Rugby, after previously holding the record, Andy Goode’s reputation as a master of the sport is well deserved. Indeed, he loves the game so much that after retiring once he came back to enjoy a second stint before finally hanging up his boots for good.
Aside from his prestigious playing career, Goode became well known as a pundit and also for his personal life too, having not one hair transplant but two. He also became a father of twins; its seems that this isn’t a man who does anything by halves.
With his self deprecating sense of humour and his expansive knowledge of the game, Andy Goode is now as valuable off the field as on. When not bantering with fans on Twitter, he’s most often seen pitch side with a microphone, chatting on the popular podcast The Rugby Pod or commentating for BT Sport.
The Perfect Professional
Starting out life as a scrum-half, Goode found his true calling when he switched to fly-half , joining up with Leicester Tigers when he was just a fresh-faced 18 year old in 1998. Despite being one of the youngest players in rugby union, he played an integral role in the Tigers hot streak of four successive titles in the Premiership, plus two Heineken cup victories too.
Other than a brief stint at Saracens between 2002-2003, Goode remained with the Tigers until 2008. During his time at the club he was nominated for the 2004-2005 Player of the Season, and also the PRA Player’s Player of the Year. During the same season his fellow Tiger players and club members voted him as their player of the year.
This success was only to be topped in 2008 when Andy Goode’s name knocked off England hero Jonny Wilkinson from the top spot, claiming the all time scoring record in the English Premiership. He has since been nudged into second place, but remains of the top scorers the league has ever seen.
After leaving the Tigers, Goode went on to play for four more clubs: Brive in France and the Sharks in South Africa, before returning home to don the colours of Worcester Warriors and finally London Wasps.
During these years, Goode also managed to notch up a number of international caps too, playing for England Saxons five times and England 17 times, scoring 107 points for the latter.
At the end of the 2015 season, London Irish were expecting to welcome Goode into the fold but injuries forced the then-35 year old into early retirement. London Irish released him from his contract and pundits, coaches and players alike all thought they’d seen the last of the talented fly-half on the pitch.
He said in an interview with the Telegraph,
“I couldn’t go on and thought I would retire as gracefully as I could. I settled into a life without rugby, had fixed up a job with a foreign exchange in the City and was enjoying walking the dog and watching my daughter Ella-Grace play lacrosse,”
However, just nine months later after having botox treatment, Goode returned.
Goode underwent a treatment of botulinum toxin – usually used for cosmetic purposes has proven to ease athletic injuries and help relax the muslces.
“I wouldn’t be back playing without the injection,” said Goode, who has kicked 48 points in five games. “I’m really enjoying playing and, incredibly, I don’t have any pain in my left knee which at times was excruciating.”
Joining the Newcastle Falcons as injury cover for Ruki Tipuna and Mike Delaney, he took his place on the field for a further three months. The 57 points he scored during his seven appearances were instrumental in saving the Falcons from relegation, earning him a nomination for Aviva Premiership Player of the Year. Goode finally hung up his boots – for the second and last time – after playing on 27 March 2016.
The Devoted Dad
A quick flip through Goode’s Twitter feed reveals far more than the typical pundit banter with fans. Since leaving the game, Goode hasn’t rested on his laurels, and not only proposed to now-fiancee Carolin, but also became the proud father of twin girls.
Despite looking like the stereotypical rugby player, and often spotted in press conferences with a beer in his hand, it seems Goode has a particularly soft side that he’s happy to share. On 29 March 2016 he posted a romantic picture after he popped the question to the beautiful Carolin and his social media contains a steady stream of photos of his oldest daughter and his twin babies, Isabella and Olivia.
As well as being a professional pundit, Goode has carved out a career in finance, drawing on his experiences overseas to work in the foreign currency market. This leaves him plenty of time to spend at home with his young family, and judging by his Twitter feed, he’s relishing the experience.
From Sport to Finance
“Retiring from playing rugby to working in the financial industry was quite a big step… Going from carrying your boots to training, and playing every weekend to wearing a suit Monday to Friday took some adjusting.”
Says Andy Goode*
Currently Andy Goode has taken to the world of finance at the currency and international payments specialists, Moneycorp. Here Andy is Head of Strategic Sales.
In his role, the former England fly-half has the responsibility to develop the company’s network of corporate and high-net worth clients. His clients seek support with international payments, managing any risk associated with foreign exchange and also hedging strategies.
While he was playing the game, Goode wasn’t exactly renowned for his appearance. With his portly build and receding hairline, he often looked older than his years.
However, while some players decline after they retire from sport, the opposite seems to have happened to the ex fly-half. He’s not only looking trimmer than he has for a long time, he also seems to have grown a new crop of hair.
Goode’s healthy locks have transformed his appearance so completely that one female rugby co-presenter couldn’t resist having a little tug to test it out. (In case you’re wondering, she didn’t manage to dislodge a single strand but had her hand slapped away for the cheekiness!)
The hair transplants were carried out by Landmark Hair Loss Clinic (www.landmarkhair.com), and Goode was keen to go public about the procedure. With many men denying hair transplants, Goode has been a refreshing breath of honesty, with his insistence that a hair transplant isn’t anything to be embarrassed about.
Goode was so keen to dispel both the stigma and the myths surrounding the hair transplant procedure that he consented to be filmed while the surgeon worked. Goode can be seen in his own inimitable style watching a tablet, seemingly relaxed, while the hair transplant takes place.
Twice As Larger Than Life
Andy Goode was a real character during his years on the field, collecting an astounding number of accolades and playing for both club and country. His irrevocable sense of humour and willingness to share his knowledge have made him a firm fans’ favourite as a pundit since retiring from playing. And with adorable baby twin girls, a sporty daughter, a beautiful partner and a more youthful experience, it’s little wonder than Andy Goode is someone who really does seem like he has life sorted.
If you would like to talk to Andy about his work at Moneycorp, please get in touch with him here email@example.com
• Quote from an interview with IBtimesUK
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