Pride At Recognition From Home-Town Club
Mark Rankine has become an indirect coronavirus victim – but in a way that is nothing like as serious.
The former Wolves utility man was due to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame at his home-town club Doncaster, only for his big day to fall victim to the massive illness outbreak.
The ceremony had been scheduled for the recently-postponed home game against AFC Wimbledon and will now be held later in the year.
Supporters voted him into the club’s elite bracket as their stand-out player of the 1980s and thus made him only the 28th man in Doncaster’s 140-year history to be inducted.
“I’m really honoured to have been given this award, especially as I was born in Doncaster,” Rankine said.
“I have some great memories from the years I spent there and feel truly humbled by this support. I look forward to visiting for a match next season.”
The recipient turned 50 last autumn and has become a highly successful player agent since ending his long playing career, his deals including Kyle Walker’s £50m transfer from Tottenham to Manchester City in 2017.
He is also the uncle of Doncaster-born Spurs and England left-back Danny Rose – currently on loan at Newcastle – and was a popular figure throughout a Molineux stay that brought him 167 first-team appearances across four and a half years.
Signed by Graham Turner from Doncaster for £70,000 in January, 1992, he was principally seen initially as a forward or attacking midfielder.
His goals mysteriously dried up in the West Midlands, though, and he scored only once while also serving Graham Taylor and Mark McGhee – in a 2-1 home win over Cambridge towards the end of his first part-season.
He became best known as an energetic central midfielder but also played games at right-back.
It was McGhee who eventually sold him to Preston in September, 1996, the player then amassing a huge tally of around 270 games for them that included promotion to the second tier and then a play-off defeat against Bolton when a top-flight place was close.
Wolves came face-to-face with him when disposing of Sheffield United 3-0 in the 2003 Championship play-off final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
Rankine had made big strides at Doncaster’s old Belle Vue ground at the start of his career, scoring in the victory over Huddersfield in the Northern Intermediate League Cup final alongside another Rovers hall of fame inductee, Brian Deane.
He made his senior debut aged 17 in the old Third Division and captained a talented side that beat Manchester City and Tottenham on the way to reaching the FA Youth Cup final, in which they were defeated by Arsenal. Mark scored five goals in the historic campaign, including two in the semi-final win over Spurs.
By then, Rankine had also spent time at Manchester United as a schoolboy and sewn the seeds for an enduring friendship with Darren Ferguson that grew in their time together at Molineux.