The 72 Interview #3: Marlon Beresford
It’s 200 miles from Burnley to Luton, a journey to which you can add a further 100 miles if you go via Middlesbrough. And a further 1,508 miles if you trace over the route of Marlon Beresford’s football career in its entirety, from his birthplace of Lincoln to his current home of Harpenden in Hertfordshire.
The Seventy Two warns against this course of action as a lifestyle choice, but it still sums up the circuitous voyage taken by the oft-loaned goalkeeper. A hero to Clarets and Hatters fans in particular, Marlon spent the vast majority of his time in the Football League and must have played against a huge number of its 72 member clubs.
Many thanks to Marlon for agreeing to the interview below. Following Marlon’s footsteps is ill-advised – 1,808 miles takes roughly 1 day and 11 hours by car, 22 days and 12 hours by foot and an eternity to patiently explain to a loved one – so why not just follow him on Twitter instead.
Who did you support as a boy and who were your footballing idols?
I supported Aston Villa and would go regularly with my Dad and brother. I was very lucky to watch the team in the late 1970s and see them go on to win the league and European Cup in 1981/82.
My footballing idols were two England goalkeepers, Peter Shilton and Ray Clemence, along with Villa players Jimmy Rimmer, Gary Shaw and Tony Morley.
Who did you learn from as a youth player at Sheffield Wednesday?
I was very lucky to learn from a great goalkeeping coach at Hillsborough – Alan Hodgkinson [former England goalkeeper who is credited with “discovering” Peter Schmeichel for Manchester United, sent by Alex Ferguson to watch the Dane in six games in the early 1990s].
What was it like out on loan at Northampton early in your career?
I really enjoyed my two spells there, working with the manager and good friend Theo Foley. We did okay in my time there. We had some decent players – the likes of Bobby Barnes and Steve Terry. It was a great grounding for someone starting out in the game.
What were the highlights of your time with Burnley?
The highlights were being promoted via the play-offs in 1994 and collecting two consecutive PFA awards for being voted the best goalkeeper in the division.
Did you enjoy your time at Middlesbrough?
Middlesborough was good, even though the opportunity to play was limited. I enjoyed playing and working with some world-class players and characters. During my spell there, Boro had Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ince, Juninho, Alen Boksic, Gianluca Festa… and of course Phil Stamp!
How about Luton? Do you see this as the best period of your career?
I had a wonderful time at Luton in the first three seasons there, and it was certainly a very good part of my career. I felt the experience I brought to an already very good team at that time made the defensive side of things very comfortable at that level, which of course helps as a goalkeeper.
Mike Newell was a very good man manager who got the best out of a bunch of players who were committed to play for him and each other.
Who were the best players you played alongside?
The Boro stars mentioned above are the obvious names, but I must add players who would go unnoticed and yet were invaluable to a side – Steve Davis and David Eyres at Burnley, Robbie Mustoe at Middlesborough and Steve Robinson and Paul Underwood at Luton.
What did you prefer – making a world-class save or seeing your team score at the other end?
Seeing your team score is preferable, although I would enjoy making a very good save in helping the team to go on and win or draw a game.
You recently played for a Middlesbrough supporters club side – what was that like?
I thoroughly enjoyed putting the gloves back on the other week, although I was a little apprehensive having not played for two and a half years. I wasn’t sure if the body could hold out, but it did and I’m looking forward to playing on a regular basis, until it gets cold!
Do you watch much football these days? Which goalkeepers impress you?
I’m still watching plenty of football and enjoyed working for Burnley’s radio station covering their games last season. It was interesting to follow and commentate on Burnley’s Premier League journey.
Current English goalkeepers who impress are obviously Joe Hart, but also Ben Foster, who I think will push Joe all the way for the number one spot. Outside of the fight for England’s goalkeeping jersey, I love watching Pepe Reina (particularly for his distribution) and Shay Given has probably been the most consistently top quality goalkeeper in recent years.
What are you up to these days?
I work as an accountant for The Richard Clarke Academy. Accountancy school is going well and taking up the majority of my time at the moment. It has been interesting to learn the business side and to reach a level where we can look to expand has been fantastic.