Mark Faulds

MARK FAULDS  -  A MANAGER’S DREAM

For the first time in  eight years Town have kicked-off a new season without having Mark Faulds in their squad.  The popular midfielder  -  although in truth he was capable of playing in any outfield position  -  decided to call time on his playing days during the summer on the basis that his job as a postman requires him to work on Saturday mornings, and whilst he could make all Town’s away games when they were in the MFA their promotion to the Southern League and the consequent extra travelling involved  meant that his availability on a regular basis was impossible to guarantee.

To offer anything less than 100% commitment was simply not in Fauldsy’s make-up, and it was typical of him that that he should write personally to Chairman Craig Hughes to explain his decision, adding that he would not consider playing for any other club and that he had always worn his Town shirt with pride.

And he wore that shirt on a total of 333 occasions starting with his Town debut away to Leamington on 4th March 2006 under Dennis Mulholland’s management.   His previous clubs had been Solihull Borough and Racing Club Warwick but from then on he was Town through and through.

When Mulholland’s time in charge ended after the 2006/7 campaign Micky Moore took over for the next two seasons followed by Rod Brown and then Morton Titterton, and all of them immediately recognised that Mark was an indispensable part of their squad.

His fitness and stamina were legendary.  Seldom did he miss a match  -  or a training session for that matter  -  with the  2009/10 season  probably being the high point of his career as he appeared in all 50 of Town’s games and won the Supporters and Manager’s Player of the Year Awards 

But his achievements that season were not a one-off. According to the Town appearance stats meticulously maintained by Club historian Alan Hawkins he returned from injury which had kept him out for four games to play against Highgate United on Boxing Day 2008, and subsequently featured in the remaining  28 games of that campaign.  Ever present in 2009/10 he would have repeated that feat in each of the following two seasons had it not been for the handful of occasions when he was an unused substitute  -  and how frustrating it  must have been for him to sit on the bench for the entire 90 minutes !!

So when wedding duty caused him to miss the F A Cup tie at Tividale last August it was the first time he had not been on the Town team sheet for over three and a half seasons embracing a mind-boggling 189 games.   It is  hard to envisage that record being broken anytime soon.

Ironically he then missed another three games in February when he was suspended for the only time in his Town career following his sending-off against Studley.

Along the way he contributed his share of important goals as well notching 37 in all .  Inevitably many were from long range with his personal favourite being the spectacular strike at Kings Lynn in the F A Cup two years ago when he let fly from fully 35 yards out.  The ball was destined for the top corner from the moment it left his foot and even Gordon Banks in his prime wouldn’t have got anywhere near it  -  the bemused Linnets keeper certainly didn’t

Perhaps it was fitting that he should score Town’s first goal of their title winning season in the opening game at Heath Hayes a year ago, and he subsequently added another in January at Boldmere when he outjumped the keeper to glide in a header  -  a bit of a collector’s item that one !!  

And although it was not realised at the time his Town career was appropriately rounded-off at the End-of-Season Presentation Evening in May when he collected the Herald Player of the Season Trophy.

Maybe Town have had better technical players over the years who had more flair and finesse, but surely none with greater determination or drive or the simple desire to play for the Club, and it was probably the succession of managers he played under who appreciated those qualities the most.

Town’s current boss Carl Adams certainly did, as he explained to the Herald when Mark announced his decision.   “I’m gutted to lose Fauldsy to be honest.   He has said that Stratford was the only club that he wanted to play for so he has decided to pack it in rather than go anywhere else.    He was vital to us last season and is the type of player any manager wants to have in his side.”

So it somehow won’t be quite the same without Fauldsy, and he will be genuinely missed by management and supporters alike.