Promotion-winner reflects on his time with The Saddlers...PROMOTION-winner, Darko Mavrak, has spoken about his fond memories of his time with The Saddlers.
The 44 year-old arrived at Bescot Stadium in February 1999 and played his part in our eventual promotion at the end of that memorable campaign, weighing in with a couple of goals and a string of impressive displays.
His time with the club was made extra special when he met his wife-to-be and the couple now have three children.
“I really enjoyed my time at Walsall,” he said with great fondness. “It was a friendly club to be involved with and looking back, it was a good time in my playing career.
“Working under Ray Graydon was enjoyable. He wanted to do things the right way and achieve something for the club.
“The team spirit was excellent; we had some good, honest lads here who worked hard for each other and mixed well off-the-field as well.
“They were happy days – I wish I was still young enough to be playing today!
“My main memory is what a great place Bescot Stadium was to play football. It had so much character and the fans were extremely passionate, which created a great atmosphere for us.
“It was also nice to go away to some big venues and take on clubs with much bigger budgets than ours. Don’t forget that we pipped Manchester City to automatic promotion in 1998/99.
“My time at Walsall also saw me meet up with my wife, so that is another very special memory that will stay with me forever.”
Mavrak started his career in his native Yugoslavia with FK Velez Mostar. The war that was gripping his country at the time saw him continue his career in Sweden with the likes of Djurgardens IF and IFK Norrkoping.
Following a brief spell in the Greek Super League with Panachaiki, he was snapped up by The Saddlers and made his debut in a 1-0 win at Reading.
As we closed in on promotion, Mavrak scored his first goal for the club to give us a crucial victory at Northampton and followed it up with another in our 2-0 success at Blackpool.
The following season saw him figure in four League games at the higher level before moving on to Israel with Hapoel Tzafririm Holon, where his playing days were to come to an end.
After leaving the game he went into the restaurant business and is now living in Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.