Ian Marshall came at the end of a generation of English footballers reliant on their unrelenting physicality over any discernible technique or natural ability. The tall, physically imposing player got his break as centre back after injury precluded Derek Mountfield from the Everton line up in August 1985. After several outings with Kevin Ratcliffe, he returned to Central League football and found his opportunities further limited by the arrival of Dave Watson the following year.
Marshall, however, never saw himself as a centre back but a centre forward, yet was unable to convince Howard Kendall of his aptitude up front. After no more than cameo roles through Everton’s glory years, in March 1988 he joined Oldham Athletic for £100,000. At Boundary Park, an injury crisis gave him the stage he sorely craved and in a forward role he thrived. Under the watch of managers – such as Joe Royle and Leicester’s Martin O’Neill – reliant on the long ball game, Marshall excelled as a human battering ram, spearheading forward lines with bravery and brute strength. It may not have been sophisticated or pretty, but it was highly effective – particularly in the cut and thrust of the relegation or promotion battles he often found himself in.
A top-flight player until his mid-thirties, in 2000 he won the League Cup with Leicester City and promotion back to the Premier League with Bolton a year later. A short spell with Blackpool followed before Marshall retired to Canada.