Mark Blake

The Transfer Record: Mark Blake

In March 1994, Leicester City’s route to a third successive Wembley Play-Off Final for a place in the Premier League was being severely hampered by injuries to Colin Hill, Mike Whitlow, Steve Walsh, Gary Mills, Steve Thompson, David Speedie and Colin Gibson.
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On transfer deadline day, manager Brian Little responded to this crisis by paying a Club-record fee of £360,000 for Portsmouth midfielder Mark Blake.

Mark’s career had started as an apprentice at Villa Park. He was loaned out to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the second half of the 1991/92 season and made 36 appearances for Aston Villa before he moved to Portsmouth for a £400,000 fee in August 1993 in a part-exchange deal involving Guy Whittingham.

It was seven months later that Little brought him to Filbert Street. He made his debut against Notts County at Meadow Lane two days after signing. He played in every one of the 13 games that remained that season, up to and including the victorious Wembley Play-Off Final against Derby County, which confirmed Leicester City’s place in the Premier League.

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Mark Blake
Mark Blake

Mark Blake signed for a Club-record fee of £360,000 from Portsmouth.

Leicester’s spell in the Premier League only lasted for one season. Playing alongside new signing Mark Draper, Blake was first choice in the side until Little left the Club three months into the season to manage Aston Villa.

Little was replaced by Mark McGhee who, in his year at Filbert Street, only played Mark in the first team sporadically. The midfielder’s case for selection wasn’t helped by his sometimes suffering from asthma.

When McGhee became the second manager in the space of 12 months to walk out of Filbert Street (in December 1995), his replacement Martin O’Neill never once selected Mark for the first team as he rebuilt his midfield with the likes of Neil Lennon and Muzzy Izzet. Consequently Mark played no part in the team which secured promotion back to the Premier League at the end of the season.

That summer, 27 months after arriving at Filbert Street for a Club-record fee, Mark left on a free transfer for a two-year spell at third tier Walsall. After a year out of the game, he then played for two clubs in the fourth tier. He spent two years at Mansfield Town before injury finished his playing career at Kidderminster Harriers.

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