Mark Creighton is perhaps better known as ‘The Beast’, a firm favourite with Wrexham FC fans at the Racecourse ground. After moving to Wrexham FC from Oxford United the imposing defender has settled in the area and is now following a dream by opening his own tattoo studio.
As usual here at Wrexham.com we like to feature new business ventures so popped up to Coedpoeth to have a chat with The Beast to discover more about his reasons for being around Wrexham, his experiences in setting up a business plus of course a little about tattoos & football!
“Alot of people talk about fate, but I was in a long distance relationship with my partner Mili who is from Dolgellau and I was living in Birmingham at the time. I fell out with my gaffer at Oxford, Dean Saunders rang and asked if I wanted to come up. It was perfect as I could spend more time with Mili and get some football under my belt. Around three weeks after I came to Wrexham we found out Mili was pregnant, so we moved to Bala as it was half way between Dolgellau and Wrexham and we have not looked back!”
The location of Raw Ink’s studios is Coedpoeth, to the west of Wrexham which is likely to prove convenient for trips back home to Bala.
We asked about this first adventure into running his own business and how he felt, his reply was “You can quote me on this, f**king knackered!”
“I have been getting into bed at night with things bouncing around in my head, and to couple that with my knee injury its absolutely mental”
Mark set himself the deadline of tomorrow (Wednesday 19th) as opening day, and despite a few doubts he is well on track and will certainly be open saying “anyone who has ever tested me or doubted me I prove them wrong”.
The Wrexham FC defender suffered a serious knee injury around a month ago while playing against Ebbsfleet, diagnosed as tears to his medial meniscus, ACL, MCL, plus articular cartilage loss.
Raw Ink has come at a good time it seems, as good as serious injuries get: “its something else to think about other than I am injured. I have been at training since I have done it, and this last week at training its really hit me how boring it is for me now. I cant do that much training, mainly just leg exercises and machine based work.
“I hit abit of a brick wall on Tuesday as everything I have been working on is irrelevant as until I have an operation nothing is going to happen”.
Mark referred to Raw Ink as a ‘god send’ to help him out of that mindset “To come up here after training and get my mind into something else it completely took away that feeling”.
“Its a pick me up, I was in the building game years ago and I love getting my teeth into things, building and being creative and this has been one of the biggest projects I have been involved in.”
Even with Raw Ink the knee injury is holding him back, with a ‘project manager’ style role evolving rather than the more hands on approach it seems he would prefer. Due to this hes called in friends and favours, plus ‘crowdsourcing’ solutions from his twitter account “Wrexham fans have been there and helped me out no end”. We have spotted a few of the very precise requests, be it for BT phone line engineers to the lending of a 35mm wood drill!
As Wrexham.com is an online publication and pretty active on our @wrexham account, we asked Mark about the dangers of such media. Some high profile sports men and women have got into hot water with twitter comments, so asked if this was something he kept in mind when tweeting.
“No. You just have to use your noggin’. All it comes down to is common sense. You know when you are saying something thats naughty, so just dont say it”
Donning his ‘dragons den’ hat, we asked The Beast for his advice for any would-be entrepreneurs out there who have thought about starting their own business…
Aside from a chuckle as he told us “Get someone else to pay for it!” Mark passionately said “Go for it! If you believe in yourself and believe in what you are going to do – go for it! Where there is risk there is reward! Alot of people come up with ideas but never do them, how do you know if you dont actually do it?”
A motivation for the business was revealed when he explained “I have invested some of my money, which ultimately is my sons money” but the main driver was the long term dream of running a tattoo studio – something he considered when in Birmingham.
Bryn Evans from Wrexham Council’s health and safety department was the visitor before us, giving Raw Ink its certificate to trade. Shiny new machines with protective film on top were ready to go, with Mark telling us about a transfer making machine (for tattoos, not football transfers!) which sounded not only impressive but expensive – as he said “if I am going to do something I am going to do it right”.
Turning to tattoos, it turns out despite loving them from an early age Mark waited until he was 26 years old to get his first. “I didnt want to get something I regretted, I have a few friends who have some rascal tattoos they had when they were younger and now they massively regret them. I wanted to wait to be certain that what I got was something I really wanted”.
Being nosey we asked about his own tattoos, “Some are meaningful, and some are things in life I appreciate”. He did knock on the head the idea of him being a tattooist though, “I bring ‘me’ to the business, and help get Raw Ink’s name out there to people but ultimately I then hand over to the artists who produce the goods.”
Recently Wrexham FC has discovered it is older than previously thought, with a change to the badge to reflect the new founding date, no doubt with a few fans wanting an update on their current tattoos. “We have been racking our brains on that, as you cant just laser dates off its a hard one to change. We will come up with something I’m sure!”
Beast Tattoos was our suggestion for a brand, but that was firmly rejected “It would have been s**t”.
“I didnt want to go for anything todo with the football club as I cant limit my business to just Wrexham fans”
“I have had alot of people ask me ‘what if a Chester fan comes in wanting a Chester badge?’ end of the day, if they are putting money into the business they are welcome, so its not just for Wrexham fans, plus there are people who dont have a care in the world about football”
“I appreciate football fans are very passionate people and want it to be just theirs, but sorry guys!”
There are already ideas about where Raw Ink could go as a business, with expansion being a possible step “I have rooms upstairs I havent touched yet, and I can buy this place as part of the lease, I have a great landlord.”
Asking about his teammates we wanted to know which was least likely to get a tattoo at the new studio, which apparently is fellow defender Martin Riley! “Hes only got one and its a beaut” however no further clue was given to what and why…!
Loanee striker Andy Bishop has already enquired about Raw Ink’s services, as has Neil Ashton and Thornton “depending which arm he has it on!” Appeal goes wider than just Wrexham FC players, with Grimsby’s Liam Hearn already booked in for a full day.
In terms of his footballing future we asked if he was interested in becoming the worlds first player, manager/coach , tattoo studio owner – “For Wrexham? Yeah go on, is this an official job offer?!” More seriously he said “The bottom line is I would love to, and want to, end my career at Wrexham, as long as they will have me! Going into coaching or management is something I have got in mind, and another silver lining on the cloud (of the knee injury) is that I can do some of my coaching badges this year while I am out.”
There has been talk in the local press of ‘Creighton Scouting’, in particular being instrumental to bring his old defensive partner Riley to the club “Mozza speaks with alot of senior players about players, when we have played against them and what we think. Mozza is not a self obsessed guy and appreciates everyone’s opinion. We give him honest answers!”
Morrell was a striker for Wrexham FC before becoming player manager, so is now a team mate plus boss for Mark, which is a relatively unique position in football.
“Its the first time its happened for me in the game, I quite like it to be fair. Its worked really well and has been really smooth at Wrexham. If thats the case at other clubs I dont know, but its been great. The lads have always had that extra bit of respect for Mozza due to what hes achieved in the game, its the old saying ‘respect your elders’, and he is old!”
“The lads always had the respect for him, and we have a laugh and craic with him but then he takes himself off to the office.”
Although Wrexham.com sponsors Glen Little’s away kit, I think we will be going for The Beasts shirt next year…!
Raw Ink opens tomorrow, Wednesday 19th. You can contact Raw Ink on 01978 754772 and find them at 13 High Street, Coedpoeth , LL11 3RY – close to the Post Office.
If you are a Wrexham fan you need to get yourself to Wrexham Museum – a new exhibition has opened all about the history of the club! More info here….
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