Mark Wallington

A Record Breaker – Mark Wallington’s Leicester City Career

One of Leicester City’s all-time great goalkeepers, Mark Wallington, celebrates his 69th birthday today (Friday).
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Playing 460 games for Leicester City during his 14 years at Filbert Street, only two players in the Club's history have surpassed his impressive tally. To mark the occasion, LCFC.com reviews his record-breaking Foxes career, with quotes from the man himself…

Taking the gloves from the 1974/75 season, Wallington followed in the footsteps of 1966 World Cup winner Gordon Banks and England’s future record appearance holder, Peter Shilton, becoming a regular in City’s starting XI alongside the likes of  Alan ‘The Birch’ Birchenall, Frank Worthington and Jon Sammels.

During a recent interview with LCFC.com, he discussed the start of his senior career and how he began to make a name for himself in the Football League after leaving college to sign for Walsall in 1971.

After impressive displays for the Saddlers, he soon moved across the Midlands to sign for Leicester City. Although carrying international youth experience having played for England Schoolboys, the teenager was still developing as a ‘keeper.

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Mark Wallington
Mark Wallington

Wallington was a key figure for the Foxes in the 1970s and early 1980s, becoming Leicester City captain during a record run of consecutive appearances.

“I had to learn my trade,” the former shot-stopper began. “Although I’d played a few league games for Walsall, I’d come straight from college, so it was a couple of years before I established myself.

“During that time, it was good, with tremendous encouragement and support from the players and coaching staff. The fans, in particular, when I did play in those first few years, they were very good.

“They appreciated it was a hard act to follow with [Gordon] Banks, [Peter] Shilton and then myself, but credit to them, they were very patient and made me more than welcome.

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Mark Wallington
Mark Wallington

The 'keeper had spells with Walsall, Derby County and Lincoln City but spent the majority of his career at Filbert Street.

“It was a situation where you were very aware of the tradition of goalkeepers at Leicester, and you were hoping that you were going to continue that.”

Brought to the Club by Jimmy Bloomfield for a reported £300,000 fee, Wallington enjoyed a good relationship with the manager, who made him No.1 after Shilton’s departure to Stoke City.

Wallington went on to feature in 331 consecutive fixtures for the Foxes in a run up until 1982, including six successive years of never missing a competitive game - a Club record which remains intact.

He was the man who signed me, so he obviously had confidence in me and gave me my opportunity when Peter [Shilton] left, so I was very grateful to Jimmy [Bloomfield].

Mark Wallington LCFC.com

He also became an England Under-23s international, playing two fixtures against Hungary in March 1976.

Wallington continued: “With Jimmy [Bloomfield], he was very good. He was a well-respected man in football, I had the greatest respect for Jimmy. He wanted to play good football.

“He was the man who signed me, so he obviously had confidence in me and gave me my opportunity when Peter [Shilton] left, so I was very grateful to Jimmy.

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Mark Wallington
Mark Wallington

Wallington in action during City's FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park in April 1982.

“Under Frank McLintock, it was a year with great expectations with Frank being an ex-player and having done so well at Arsenal, captaining the side to the double. It was his first position as manager, and he had a lot to learn being new into the job.

“On a personal relationship level, it was very good, I got on very well with Frank, although the football that season was quite disastrous and no one would have wanted that, in particular Frank.”

After a difficult spell under McLintock, the Foxes became Second Division champions in 1979/80, during Jock Wallace’s tenure, before going on to reach an FA Cup Semi-Final in 1981/82. 

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Leicester City 1982/83
Leicester City 1982/83

Wallington was part of the Foxes side that gained promotion back to the top-flight at the end of the 1982/83 season.

And although he missed out on a Wembley final, Wallington would earn a second team honour three years later when the side won promotion from the Second Division once more, this time under Gordon Milne, by finishing third.

Amazingly, it was the ‘keeper’s seventh season as an ever-present and he had won individual honours during this period, too, named in the Second Division PFA Team of the Year in both 1979 and 1982.

His time at Filbert Street came to an end in July 1985, moving to Derby County, but Mark Wallington continues to be remembered as a legendary figure among the Blue Army faithful for his contributions to several iconic Leicester City teams.

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