The former Penrith and South Sydney hard man was lured to Manly by test coach Bob Fulton to bolster a young but talented forward pack. In a massive boost to the club in 1994 Mark ‘Spud’ Carroll would add the mongrel to the team while fellow recruit Terry Hill would add the size and class to the back line that contained established stars like Lyons, Ridge & Toovey.
Carroll made his test debut in 1990 against France and toured with the Kangaroos the same year but despite being Souths best player his career stagnated therefore he moved to the Sea Eagles in the hope his representative career would be reignited.
Under Fulton his skills as a tough attacking forward continued to improve and he surprisingly missed out on the 1994 Kangaroo squad that toured the UK.
However Spud became entrenched as one of the games best front rowers in 1995 as the Sea Eagles went onto to dominant the competition. The club lost the Grand Final in an upset to the Bulldogs but that loss only spurred the club onto greater achievements in 1996 as they beat St George to win the premiership.
Carroll along with fellow prop forwards David ‘Cement’ Gillespie and Neil Tierney terrorised opposition teams with hard hitting defence and aggressive running. This allowed the dynamite back row combination of Menzies, Gartner and Kosef room to move while Cliff Lyons could weave his magic out wide.
Further premiership success eluded Carroll once again in 1997 when the Sea Eagles were again beaten by the underdogs, this time in the form of the Newcastle Knights team which was led by his fierce competitor and prop forward opponent Paul ‘The Chief’ Harragon in the Grand Final.
The clashes between Spud and the Chief are now part of Rugby League folklore. The most memorable being a match at Newcastle Stadium, in front of packed house of parochial Knight’s fans Newcastle kicked off to start the game. Carroll took the kick off and charged at the defensive line, Harragon sprinted down the field and took Spud head on.
In a massive collision of two of the biggest players in the game both players reeled backwards as a result of the hit and after the dust had settled a dazed Carroll was seen standing over Harragon, who was knocked unconscious and lying prostrate on the ground, giving him a mouthful of choice adjectives.
Spud’s career and best footy was at the height was the Super League war and it was during this time he played most of his 7 Origin games for NSW and 12 test matches.
At the end of 1997 and 88 games in the Maroon & White, Carroll was forced out of Manly due to financial pressures that inflicted the Sea Eagles due to Super League. He went to the UK and played for the London Broncos but his stint was unsuccessful and he returned to Australia and played a final year with Souths in 1999.
He retired at the end of 1999 due to a chronic foot injury but made a celebrated comeback with the Russell Crowe sponsored Orana Valley Axeman in NSW country rugby league. He has since worked for Crowe as his personal bodyguard and maintains a close interest in the progress of both South Sydney and the Sea Eagles.
Mark Carroll – a tough as nail Eagle.