Captain Mardon – International
THE extent of Paul Mardon’s international career was 20 minutes of a qualifying game ahead of Euro ’96. He came on as a substitute for Steve Jenkins of Swansea City as Wales took on Germany in Cardiff in front of a crowd of 25,000 people.
As was ever their wont, the Germans did just enough to win the game, nudging Wales aside by two goals to one on their way to those championships, a tournament they eventually won.
That the man we came to know as “Captain Mardon – International” did not represent his country any further was, in part due to his terrible luck with injuries over a sustained period of time, injury that eventually brought his career to a premature end.
But it also exposes the inherent barminess in national team selection, particularly among the nations of the United Kingdom. How was it that Mardon was deemed good enough to get in a few squads, then, when he finally got a chance to play, was dismissed after only 20 minutes of football, and that against the team that would quickly prove itself to be the best in Europe?
Yes, Wales did have the likes of Chris Coleman to cal on at centre-half at the time. But was it not worth taking another butcher’s at Mardon in a friendly somewhere to see if he could come in and do a longer term job for Wales?
As it was, after just the one taste of international football, Mardon was never offered another opportunity and had to make do with club football, which seemed something of a waste for a powerfully built defender who read the game particularly well.
Signed by Keith Burkinshaw to shore up the defence that Ossie Ardiles had left behind, Mardon and Paul Raven struck up perhaps the best defensive partnership that the Throstles had in the 1990s, but the former Birmingham man always had catastrophic bad luck with injury.
His career was effectively ended when he was on the wrong end of a heavy tackle in a friendly in July 1999, a challenge that ended with Mardon suffering terrible knee ligament damage, a tackle from which he never recovered.
He attempted three different comebacks as a player but each time they ended in further problems, Mardon eventually calling it a day on medical advice, whether ever adding to that solitary Welsh cap.