By Tony Attwood
Mark Randall was born 28 September 1989 in Milton Keynes, and at one time seemed to be destined to make his breakthrough into the Arsenal first team on a permanent basis.
But somehow it never happened. Looking on from the distance of an Arsenal fan it seemed that his temperament was not right, and he was unlucky with early injuries, but whatever the problems, he is another of those players who was good enough to play for England at under 16 level, but later found it hard to find an English club.
And it wasn’t just me who thought he could make it. I am sure I recall Arsène Wenger eulogising about Randall’s abilities – but he only played a couple of games for us, and in the end left in 2011.
I believe (but I can’t find records to prove this) he was actually a schoolboy with one of my local teams – Northampton Town – but he then moved on to Arsenal and reached our attention in 2005 playing in the reserve league.
He even played in the first match at the Emirates (Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial) and on the tour of Europe pre-season in 2006, so clearly at that time he was held in great regard.
On 24 October 2006 he made his first team debut as a sub in a League Cup round three game against WBA. He played in the next round too, and the following season, on 8 February 2007, he signed a professional contract with Arsenal.
In December 2007 he was once again playing as a sub in the league cup, before taking his first loan job with Burnley on 31 January 2008. He returned to make his Premier League debut v Sunderland on 11 May 2008. I remember it. He looked angry.
He was one of the players in the famous League Cup game against Sheffield United on 23 September, in which a team of Arsenal youngsters beat Utd 6-0, and started making sub appearances that season in the Champions League.
But the signs of something going wrong then occurred. A season long deal with Derby arranged in the summer of 2009 was aborted after Derby were unimpressed by a trial match. Instead on 15 January 2010 he went to his homeland team Milton Keynes Dons until the end of the season.
However instead of the expected breakthrough to Arsenal the descent continued and for 2010–11 he was with Rotherham United in League 2. He suffered an early injury, but stayed for the rest of the season. His Arsenal contract was not renewed and he was a free agent.
For 2011/12 he had a one year contract with Chesterfield and started to speak about the way he was disillusioned with Arsenal (which is generally player speak for having cocked an opportunity up). He won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final on 25 March 2012, coming on as a sub. Chesterfield were relegated but offered Randall a new contract which he declined, and left the club after 51 games.
|2010||Milton Keynes Dons loan||16||0|
|2010/11||Rotherham United loan||10||1|
Instead he signed a two year deal with Ascoli, and was man of the match for his first game. Which sounds like something of a comeback, but…
Although Ascoli has a history which has included being in the top division in Italy it now plays in Lega Pro Prima Divisione – division three. It is a league divided into two regional sections – Ascoli are in “B” – a 17 team group. The league was previously known as Series C1.
Maybe he can make it back, but I wonder – what was it that went wrong?
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