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    Jason Marr makes 100th Appearance 

    Monday, August 08, 2016 4:38:52 PM

    The opening day of the league season coincided with Jason Marr making his 100th appearance in Alloa colours. To mark this milestone appearance, it is fitting to pay a tribute to the popular defender by looking back at some of the key events in his Alloa career. Marr was signed by Paul Hartley in the week leading up to the opening league game of the 2012-3 season.

    The Alloa manager knew Marr from his time at Celtic and described him as a “very decent player”, having lost faith with Ryan Harding partnering Ben Gordon at the heart of the Wasps backline. The former Clyde man slotted in nicely, having spent that pre-season training with Dumbarton without signing a deal. A couple of familiar faces will have helped the settling in period, such as his former Scotland U19 team-mates Kevin Cawley (who he also played with as a youngster at Celtic) and Ryan McCord. In-fact, according to the Scottish FA website, Marr actually captained the Scotland U19s in October 2007 defeats v Ukraine (0-1), Azerbaijan (0-2) and Moldova (0-1). As such, the Wasps were signing a player with a good pedigree and he proved a valuable signing throughout what became a promotion winning first season at the club. In particular Jason formed a formidable partnership with Ben Gordon, with his Wasps then stand-in captain commenting after an April win v Forfar "It has been a great partnership with Jason Marr - we know each other's games so well and it helps that we know what each other is going to do in certain situations. It's been key that we have played the majority of the games together and hopefully we can keep it going until the end of the season." While Gordon stole most of the headlines with his defensive displays and goalscoring heroics, Marr wasn't far behind and chipped in with two valuable goals of his own, both being headers from corners v Forfar and East Fife. Marr was also an occasional right-back, covering for the suspended Michael Doyle in November. Jason only missed a handful of games during the season, first due to an ankle knock in March and then a hamstring injury in the first leg of the end of season play-off semi final win at Brechin. However, the Glaswegian recovered sufficiently to return for the second leg of the final at Dunfermline, where a typical committed display helped the Wasps to promotion. Jason had experience of the First Division, having played for Falkirk and Ross County on loan during the 2010/11 season. His return to the second tier was delayed owing to a back injury, with his first start coming at the end of September at Raith. This was despite a heroic display in the cup defeat (on penalties) at Aberdeen in August, with Paul Hartley utilising three centre-halves that night. After four games back in the team Marr then missed the next three, but returned to spearhead a six game unbeaten run for the club, including four clean sheets – two of which were in the December wins v Hamilton and Morton, which sent the Wasps to 4th in the Championship close to the midpoint of the season. That run also included Marr's only goal of the season, a low left footed finish in the cup derby versus Stirling, taking Alloa through to the last 16 of the competition. After that game, Jason spoke to the Alloa Advertiser “That is my first goal of the season and I am thrilled that it has came in such a huge game for the club. It makes it even better that it proved to be the winner in the derby. It was a great feeling to get the goal but I still don’t know how to celebrate properly - I will need to practice.” Sadly when the next round came around Marr was out injured, having suffered a thigh injury in the early January game at QoS. In-fact that injury finished Marr's season, as although he returned to the matchday squad at the end of March, he didn't make it back onto the pitch for the rest of the season. The fact that Jason's time on the sidelines coincided with a downturn in the Wasps form was recognised by many fans, with many suggesting that Alloa missed Jason's calming influence and ability on the ball. Sadly, injuries also severely curtailed Marr's 2014/15 season. He managed just a dozen league starts, partly due to injuries and partly due to the form of loan signing Kyle Benedictus. As such, Marr spent around a third of the season on the pitch, a third on the bench and the final third on the treatment table. Marr missed the start of the season through illness, then limped off in the Petrofac Cup win at Stirling and didn't start another game until November. The Wasps faithful praised Marr on his return to the side, with two clean sheets and a fine draw at Ibrox meaning his return to the side was seamless. In particular, some trademark last-ditch Marr blocks were the order of the day. However, in the very next game, the home derby with Falkirk, injury cruelly struck again and Marr was sidelined for another three weeks. On his return the form of Benedictus meant Marr spent the next eight games on the bench. Suspensions to both Gordon and Benedictus signalled another chance for Marr to re-establish himself, which he did by being named the Alloa Advertiser's Man of the Match on his return at QoS. That form kept Marr in the side until a pulled hamstring in March's televised game at Raith ended Jason's season prematurely. That meant Marr missed out on a cup final appearance and appearing in the dramatic end of season play-offs. Such were Marr's injury problems many Wasps fans questioned whether another contract would be offered. Although nobody was questioning Marr's quality, his injury record meant his signing would be a risk. However, Danny Lennon thankfully had faith in Marr and that was repaid over the season with his injury problems shown to be behind him by starting almost as many games in 2015/16 than he had in the previous two seasons combined. Furthermore, Marr excelled in a struggling Wasps side, deservedly being named the Duffle Forum Player of the Year. He continuously drew plaudits for his strong showings, while also memorably getting on the scoresheet at St Mirren (the scene of his single Scotland U21 cap in 2010 v Sweden) and versus Rangers (where celebrating with his mum earned him a rare booking).

    Afterwards Marr told the Alloa Advertiser “The goal is right up there with the best moments in my career. As soon as it hit the net I ran to celebrate it with my wee mum. I got booked for it, but I really didn’t care. The celebrations show you the determination and spirit we have at this club. All of the boys were round me and hugging fans as well and it shows we are all in this together. It was a massive effort from the boys all afternoon and I think we deserved the point just for the attitude and desire we showed”. That connection with the fans is certainly reciprocated, with the 'Jason Marr my Lord' song being heard up and down the country!

    Over the Summer there were rumours Marr was going to be staying in the Championship, but he thankfully turned down those advances to sign up for his fifth season in Clackmannanshire. Marr also further endeared himself to the Wasps faithful by telling the Alloa Advertiser “I am absolutely thrilled to stay at the club for another season. I love this club and the gaffer is the guy you want to play for. I think he is building a top class team here so I chose to remain here because I want to keep enjoying my football and hopefully I can do that by winning a promotion”. Marr's loyalty was soon rewarded by being named vice-captain and the 27 year old has started the season in exemplary form, showing all the class everyone at the club has become accustomed to.

    Article - Jonathan Markwell

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