Mark Robins was a product of the Manchester United youth team and had made 48 league appearacnces for them, scoring eleven goals, before Mike Walker signed him for £800,000 in August 1992 to replace Robert Fleck. He immediately made an impact scoring twice on his debut away to Arsenal. He quickly became a popular figure with the Canaries and notched up 20 league goals in 66 appearances.
Under John Deehan's reign as manager, Mark fell out of favour and was often on the bench despite strong partnerships up front alongside Darren Eadie and Ashley Ward. Rumours allege that an affair with Deehan's daughter may account for this fall from grace. Before the FA Cup tie at Grimsby on January 7th, Robins requested a transfer stating "It just seems that my face doesn't fit.... I don't want to ask for a transfer but if they're not going to play me it's best if I go" He was dropped for the Grimsby match and sold to Leicester City for £1million.
His spell at Filbert Street was not successful and he fell behind Emile Heskey, Steve Claridge and Ian Marshall in the pecking order to lead the Leicester attack. Mark had a loan spell at FC Copenhagen in the autumn of 1996 but returned to Leicester and participated, mostly as substitute, in Leicester's Coca Cola Cup run that took them to Wembley. Tabloid gossip has linked him with moves to Bolton and with a return to Carrow Road, but at the end of August 1997 Mark joined First Division side Reading on a month's loan.
There was some confusion as to Mark's wherabouts after leaving Filbert Street. According to the Capital Canaries newsletter, Mark joined Greek side Panionios, presumerably to escape the attention of Britain's tabloids that have spotlighted his turbulent and sometimes violent lovelife. The Independent on Sunday stated on January 18th 1998 that he has joined Spanish side Orense but the News of the World reported otherwise stating he had joined Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna on a short term contract. Truth was that he went to Deportivo Orense. However according to World Soccer magazine Mark joined Panionios in the summer of 1998 and has scored with them in an European Cup-Winners Cup match against Haka Valkeakoski.
On March 14th 1999, Sport First revealled that Mark was unhappy in Greece as he was not being paid regularly, and had to borrow money from his son to pay for petrol to get to training. Despite this sorry state of affairs, Panionios reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
In March 1999, just before transfer deadline, Manchester City came in for the homesick striker, and secured his signature on a free transfer. Hopes were that Robins would help City back on promotion track with a handful of goals in the last games of the season. It was soon transparent that Robins was not in his best form, and at the end of the season he left for Walsall.
by Svenn A. Hanssen, email@example.com and Flown from the nest