Gasopedia - Bristol Rovers Wiki
29Mark McChrystal
Full name Mark Thomas McChrystal
Nationality Nir Northern Ireland
Rovers apps (goals)a 29 (0)
Position Defender
Date of birth 26 June 1984 (Age 40)
in Londonderry
Height 6 ft 1 in
3 January 2013 from Tranmere Rovers

Senior clubs
Woverhampton Wanderers
Bradford City
Derry City
Partick Thistle
Derry City
Lisburn Distillery
Derry City
Tranmere Rovers
Scunthorpe United
Bristol Rovers
a League appearances and goals only
Last updated by Gasheadsteve on 4/10/2013

Northern Irish defender Mark McChrystal joined Bristol Rovers on a free transfer from Tranmere Rovers in January 2013, signing a short-term contract until the end of the 2012–13 season.

He was signed by boss John Ward in an effort to shore up the Pirates' leaky defence, and was immediately given a spot in the starting lineup as part of a back five. He remained an almost ever-present force in the defensive line until the end of the season, when he was rewarded for his efforts with a two-year contract, with an automatic 12-month extension after playing a certain, undisclosed, number of games.

He scored his first goal in a Bristol Rovers shirt in a 2–1 defeat to Bristol City in the Football League Trophy on 4 September 2013.

Club career[]

After coming through the youth system at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Mark failed to make any first team appearances with Wolves, or with Bradford City, where he was loaned late in the 2002–03 season.

With it appearing he wasn't going to make the grade in England, Mark returned home to Northern Ireland, and in April 2003 he signed for his home town team, Derry City, where he combined playing football with studying towards a degree in Business Studies with Accounts.

Shortly after arriving at Derry he was loaned to cross-city neighbours Institute, who despite being based in the same town played in a different national league – Northern Ireland's Irish Premier League, as opposed to Derry who were in the Republic of Ireland's League of Ireland. He played six games for Institute, one of which was in the league, before returning to Derry.

Mark left the Candystripes in 2006 when he was released having made fifty appearances for them, scoring once. He eventually moved to Scotland to play for Partick Thistle, signing for them in the January 2007 transfer window. He made 15 league appearances, during which he scored one goal, and also played two games in the Scottish Cup.

He began a second spell with Derry City in 2007, returning to his homeland for family reasons, but it would prove to be a frustrating spell for McChrystal, who was dropped from the team early on after receiving a suspension, and also had a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury after sustaining a fractured cheekbone. Further frustration followed in 2009 when Derry were suffering financial difficulties, resulting in the players and staff not being paid. With no solution to the situation on the horizon Mark negotiated a release from the club in August that year so that he could pursue his career elsewhere.

In an effort to rebuild his career in English football he had trials at Huddersfield Town and Crewe Alexandra in September and October 2009, but both proved to be fruitless. His next move was back to Ulster, where he signed for Lisburn Distillery, but they also had their financial difficulties and he again found himself not being paid.

Despite his earlier problems with the club, he returned for a third spell with Derry City in January 2010, this time agreeing a one-year contract on a part-time basis. Derry had been kicked out of the Premier Division at the end of the 2009 season for flouting league rules on player contracts, and were now playing in the First Division of the League of Ireland. He helped Derry to the league title in 2010, earning back their spot in the top flight of Irish football.

He returned to full-time professional football when he was signed by Tranmere Rovers in January 2011 on a short-term deal, taking him up to the end of the 2010–11 season. His performances of the latter months of that campaign were enough to earn him a two-year deal, but by the summer of 2012 he found himself out of favour with manager Ronnie Moore, and he was sent out on loan to Scunthorpe United in November 2012. In the January 2013 transfer window he was allowed to leave Tranmere to join Bristol Rovers on a free transfer.

Career stats[]

Season Club League
Apps Goals
2002–03 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 0
2002–03 Bradford City (loan) 0 0
2003 Derry City ? ?
2003–04 Institute (loan) 1 0
2004 Derry City ? ?
2005 Derry City ? ?
2006 Derry City ? ?
2006–07 Partick Thistle 15 1
2007 Derry City ? ?
2008 Derry City ? ?
2009 Derry City 13 0
2009–10 Lisburn Distillery 3 0
2010 Derry City 30 3
2010–11 Tranmere Rovers 23 0
2011–12 Tranmere Rovers 18 1
2012–13 Tranmere Rovers 0 0
2012–13 Scunthorpe United (loan) 3 0
2012–13 Bristol Rovers 21 0

Record against Rovers[]

Mark has played against Bristol Rovers just once in his footballing career, when he was with Tranmere Rovers in 2011. The game ended in a 1–0 victory for Rovers, with Chris Lines scoring the only goal.

Date Club Venue Result Notes
8 March 2011 Tranmere Rovers Prenton Park 1–0 to Rovers

International career[]

Although Mark has never won a full international cap, he has represented Northern Ireland at schoolboy, under-19 and under-21 levels. He won nine caps for the under-21s between August 2004 and August 2006, and also captained the side during this period.

Under-21 caps[]

All of Mark's Northern Ireland Under-21 appearances are listed below.

N.B. Northern Ireland's score is always given first. (Source: Northern Ireland Football Greats)
Date Opposition Result Venue Competition
18 August 2004 Sui Switzerland 0–0 Home Friendly
8 February 2005 Sco Scotland 2–1 Home Friendly
16 August 2005 Irl Republic of Ireland 2–2 Home Friendly
6 February 2006 Isr Israel 1–0 Away Friendly
28 February 2006 Wal Wales 1–0 Away Friendly
12 April 2006 Lie Liechtenstein 4–1 Away European Championship qualifier
10 May 2006 Lie Liechtenstein 4–0 Home European Championship qualifier
16 May 2006 Sco Scotland 1–0 Home Friendly
16 August 2006 Rou Romania 0–3 Away European Championship qualifier

Further reading[]