Vanarama National League North club Blyth Spartans are mourning the passing of club legend Jackie Marks.
Marks was appointed as Spartans manager in 1966 and stayed in the Croft Park dugout for the following three seasons.
However it was his role in their historic FA Cup win in 1977/78 that propelled him, and the club, into the national headlines.
Marks was assistant manager to Brian Slane as the Northumberland club saw off the likes of Chesterfield, Enfield and Stoke City to make their way to the Fifth Round of the FA Cup.
An away derby at Newcastle United was in the offing, only for the Magpies to lose a Fourth Round replay against Wrexham.
The Spartans travelled down to Wales and came away with a 1-1 draw, although they were within minutes of a place in the Quarter Finals, only to be denied by a controversial late goal.
The replay was to be played at St James Park, home of Newcastle United and over 42,000 supporters packed out the stadium.
On an emotional night the Spartans were finally beaten, although they put on a brave show in a 2-1 defeat.
Marks played a key role in the cup run and he took over as manager at the end of that historic season.
His motivational skills had again played a major role in Spartans preparations, not least a secret ingredient they called ‘speed oil’
In an interview given to the Blyth Spirit blog he revealed “I carried a bottle of whisky and I made everybody have a small nip before they went out. We called it speedoil, I and when people heard about it I got bottles of whisky from all over; some people even gave me gallon bottles.”
His second tenure as Spartans manager ended in May 1981 and he stayed on as General Manager until November 1985.
He continued to attend home games up until last season but sadly passed away on Monday.
The Spartans issued an emotional statement on monday evening, as they hailed the man they called “Mr Blyth Spartans”.
The statement read “Blyth Spartans are saddened to hear of the loss of honorary life member and club legend Jackie Marks.
“Marks became Blyth manager during the 1966/67 season and remained at the helm for three full seasons after that, but it was as Brian Slane’s assistant that he really cemented his legacy at Croft Park – as the pair masterminded Spartans’ historic run to the FA Cup Fifth Round during the 1977/78 season.
“Following Slane’s resignation at the end of that illustrious season, Marks remained as manager until May 1981. A further four-year spell as general manager followed, until his official association with Blyth was brought to an end in November 1985.
“The 85-year-old continued to be an approachable figure on the terraces of Croft Park until fairly recently and he was often happy to stand and discuss anything regarding Blyth Spartans, his own eventful career and his thoughts on the newer generations of Spartans players.
“As a mark of respect for everything he achieved at the club, a minute’s silence will be held before Spartans’ first pre-season friendly against Newcastle Benfield on Tuesday night (7:30pm kick-off). Further plans to remember “Mr Blyth Spartans” during our first home game of the new season will be announced in due course.
Rest in peace Jackie”
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily) Image: Blyth Spartans AFC