For those of you younger readers who don’t remember the enigmatic Mark McLinden, let me take you on a journey.
He played his junior footy for the West Belconnen Warriors in the Canberra juniors.
Attending Hawker College for high school, he was selected for the Australian Schoolboys team for two years running in 1996 and 1997.
Then in 1998, Super League had just been run and done and the competition was merged once again. A young 18 year old Canberran named Mark McLinden was named to make his NRL debut – in Cootamundra of all places! Mark recalls that due to the location and the opposition (Gold Coast Chargers) it had all the feel of a trial game, but the players he lined up alongside were first grade stars.
He lined up on the pitch alongside Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart, Ruben Wiki, Brad Clyde, David Furner and Jason Croker. The team in green were coached by a guy called Mal Meninga. You might have heard of him.
Sidebar: He had an incredible year for the Raiders in his debut year scoring 12 tries (the top try scorer for the Milk) and winning the NRL Rookie of the Year. This was a team containing Brett Mullins, Jason Croker and Lesley Vainikolo and he top scored!
McLinden was a fascinating character on the field for the Canberra Raiders.
After playing 165 games for the Raiders between 1998 and 2004, McLinden headed over to England.
He replaced Jim Dymock as one of the overseas players for the London Broncos (who would later be known as the London Harlequins).
He played four seasons in London playing a total of 72 games and scored 28 tries. Unfortunately a back injury meant he was released from his contract in his last year.
He made a cross code switch when he signed for the Queensland Reds Super Rugby team in 2009. Prior to this starting he was offered a spot in the Irish Rugby League team alongside Brett White but chose to head to preseason camp with the Reds instead.
Unfortunately his rugby union career was cut short when injury again interrupted him and he only played just a few games.
After his recent interview with the Green Machine Podcast, it turns out he’s even more fascinating off the field!
As Mark explains it, professional footy delays the inevitability of adulthood and so after his footy career he wanted to do what most Aussies do in their early 20’s – travel.
He headed to Central and South America. And that’s wwhere the fun really starts.
While he riding an overcrowded bus in Guetemala, Mark (Marty) decided with his mate Ginski that he wanted to own the World Record for the most people on one bus. They set up this amazing and hilarious challenge in the videos below.
It’s a lawless society in Guatemala, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing as you can see in episode #2.
After that hilarious song, the record attempt is back on. Do Marty and Ginski manage to squeeze enough people and a chicken in this Chicken Bus?
The gripping final installment. Do Marty and Ginski fall flat on their faces or does the dream come true?
He explains this adventure magnificently on the podcast and Mike had so many questions for him.
From there Mark has lived in the UK, wrote a rugby league program for schools in England, developed videos for the Irish Rugby Union on concussion protocols and even created his own kids program combining pilates and animal movements called Animalates.
He even writes his own music! This song about running hard will be the theme of the next Green Machine Podcast 5K Challenge early next year.
Now back in Australia to ride out COVID, living in the hippy hinterlands of Northern NSW, you might not hear from Mark again very soon. So sit back and enjoy an enigmatic Raider and his crazy life.
For the full podcast, download on iTunes, Spotify or from the player below: