His last appearance in the Luton Town number one shirt may have come in March, and his season might have ended with him putting his 39-year-old body on the Peterborough goal-line – but Mark Tyler’s departure from Kenilworth Road is official today.
The veteran goalkeeper’s three-month loan back at the ABAX Stadium has come to an end, although his new permanent job there was publicly confirmed by the Posh last month when Grant McCann was unveiled as new manager with Tyler as player goalkeeper-coach.
It was from the Cambridgeshire outfit that Tyler joined the Hatters in the summer of 2009 ahead of our first year in the Conference, and over the next seven seasons he became a real fans’ favourite.
He made his debut on the opening day of the 2009-10 campaign in a 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon, and recently told lutontown.co.uk: “I can still see the fans going crazy when we scored.
“I don’t think I realised what I’d let myself in for but I soon came to realise how amazing the fans were.”
Tyler went on to win the player of the year award and rack up 297 appearances before his final outing came with a trademark clean sheet – his 118th for the Hatters, 120th if we include the two expunged Chester City games – in the 1-0 home win over Morecambe on March 1 this year.
Mick Harford, who was the manager who brought Tyler to the club, believes he has proved himself to be one of the best ever to pull on the Town number one shirt.
“It was a real coup for us when we persuaded Mark to come from Peterborough,” recalls our current chief recruitment officer.
“I was delighted to sign him because we knew the longevity we’d get from him with his levels of fitness and history of rarely missing games.
“He was 32 but we knew he had years left in him, although it actually worked out better than anyone ever expected.
“He’s proved real value for money and has to go down as one of the top goalkeepers to have played for Luton.”
In each of his first three seasons Tyler helped the Town reach the Conference play-offs, twice losing in the final.
In 2012-13 he starred in the run to the FA Cup fifth round, especially as the Hatters became the first Non-League team to beat a Premier League club when he made a man-of-the-match winning return to Norwich City, the side he trained with and watched every week as a schoolboy, in round four.
His greatest achievement undoubtedly came in his fifth campaign, however, when he kept a club record 23 clean sheets as the Hatters won promotion back to Sky Bet League Two as champions.
He was named in the Conference team of the year for 2011-12 and the title-winning campaign, and last season was voted Diamond Player of the Month four successive times between September and December, meaning he kept the overall award.
With echoes of his dream experience in finally getting to play at Carrow Road, one of Mark’s last big occasions with the Town came in the FA Cup second round last season when he returned for the first time to the club who in 2007 awarded him a testimonial, to play against the Posh.
In March he went back there on loan as back-up for regular goalkeeper Ben Alnwick, and got the chance to pull on the gloves in the final three games of the season, taking his Peterborough appearance total to 489 – second in their Football League era list behind Tommy Robson’s 559.
Having signed a one-year playing contract alongside his coaching role at the League One club, he will hope to close the gap further in 2016-17.
“The number of games Mark has played for both Peterborough and Luton shows what a great attitude he has,” adds Mick. “With the commitment he’s displayed as a player, I’m sure he’ll go on to be a top coach there.”
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet added: “Tyles was a rare breed because he was Mr Reliable on and off the pitch, hugely popular with staff, the board and supporters alike.
“He was an exemplary character and professional to have at Luton Town, and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him well in his new role at Peterborough.”
Good luck Mark from all at Kenilworth Road – and thanks for the memories!