Mike Day talks to soccer star Mark Bonner

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Football can be a tough career with one tackle putting an end to years of hard work and success. No one knows that more than former Blackpool, Cardiff and Oldham midfielder Mark Bonner. Former Bishop Rawstorne High School pupil about his glory days and the injury which halted his career.

I have particular sporting memories which stand out in my mind the most and as a Blackpool FC fan those glory moments are few and far between.

But as a boy watching my team knock Manchester City out of the Cup was one of those very special moments.

One man who knows all too well about that particular tie is Mark Bonner as he had the unenviable job of marking City's skilful midfielder and fans' favourite Georgi Kinkladzi.

Casting his mind back Mark said: "It wasn't an easy task. He had bags of pace and was very good on the ball.

"He was known as a very tricky little player, so I had to keep tight on him through the game."

But his efforts paid off and Blackpool took the victory in a thrilling replay at Maine Road.

Mark, who now lives in Croston, said: "That was a great moment for me at Blackpool. I think it has to be up there with knocking Sheffield United out of the cup when they were in the Premiership.

"I actually have a lot of great memories from my time at Blackpool and I got to play under some great managers."

It was at Bloomfield Road that Mark really made his name as one of the best attacking midfielders in the league, after cutting his teeth in the amateur leagues playing for Euxton Villa.

During a cup tie played out on the Fylde Coast, Blackpool scouts spotted Mark as a talented teenager and invited him for trials at the club.

He explained: "I signed as a YTS lad and managed to break into the first team when I was about 17.

"By the age of 19, I had played my first full season with the first team under Billy Ayres.

"Billy was a great manager. He was almost like a second dad to me, which is one of the reasons I ended up following him to Cardiff."

The move to Wales came after eight seasons with the Seasiders, which included plenty of cup giant killing and one fateful season where Blackpool came agonisingly close to promotion.

Mark said: "Playing at Blackpool was brilliant. We had a few good cup runs beating Manchester City, Sheffield United and coming close to knocking Chelsea out at Stamford Bridge.

"We gave them a really good run for their money. They were managed by Ruud Gullit at the time and had loads of top players, such as Dennis Wise and Gianluca Vialli.

"It was always good to play against the big names."

As well as playing against the big names, Mark was guided by several of the top managers including Ayres and Sam Allardyce, now at Bolton.

Mark said: "I think the Blackpool job was Sam's first real management job, but you could tell he was going to be a good manager.

"I think the biggest mistake Blackpool ever made was sacking him. I mean, just look at him now.

"We had a great season under him and just missed out on an automatic promotion spot, by one point.

"We then played Bradford in the play-offs and were winning 2-0 after the first leg away from home, where I scored along with Tony Ellis.

"Then in the home leg we went down 3-0. It was disappointing to come so close."

After the frustration of missing out on promotion and the sacking of Allardyce, Mark moved away from the area to join Cardiff under Ayres, where he enjoyed even more success.

He added: "I didn't want to become stale. We had three promotions and rose from the third division to the Championship.

"The play-off final to get to the Championships was one of the most amazing games to play in.

"We were playing at the Millennium Stadium, so you can imagine what the atmosphere was like with the all the Cardiff fans there."

After six seasons with Cardiff, Mark was snapped up by Oldham, but it was to prove a move that ended in heartache.

Mark said: "I had just signed a new contract with Oldham and we were playing away to Port Vale on a wet and windy Tuesday night. I'll never forget it.

"In the first five minutes, I went to head the ball and this other player just came right through me."

The Port Vale player's head smashed into Mark's forearm causing a career-ending break.

He added: "I was taken to hospital and had to have my arm pinned together, but there was a problem and I had to undergo a second operation where some of the bone from my hip was grafted on to my arm."

Mark knew he wouldn't be able to play football again without taking a huge risk or permanent damage to his arm and decided to retire at the age of 32.

He said: "Oldham were great with me. They gave me plenty of medical support and got me through it, but they knew and I knew that I wouldn't be able to play again.

"It was a hard decision to make, but at the same time it was an easy one, because I have two young children and not being able to pick them up and play with them when I was in plaster was hard enough, and if I had damaged it further I think I would have really regretted it."

Mark, 33, now lives with his wife Anna, who he met in Cardiff, and runs his own business in Chorley, The Solid Wood Furniture Company.

Mark said: "I've been running the business for about 12 months now and I do enjoy it. It's hard work.

"I suppose you miss football a bit, but I have some great memories and I have a great family around me."