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THE MAGIC OF MARINER

10 July 2021

The Town fans stood one more time to salute a Super Blue

Paul Mariner was arguably the best centre-forward in English football in the early 1980s.

An old fashioned No.9 but with a modern twist, he was the perfect target man and lethal in the air but he combined that with the strength to hold up the play and bring team-mates into the game as well as a calmness in front of goal and the technique to match. He was the complete frontman.

Born in Bolton, he made his Football League bow for Plymouth and became a massive hit with the Argyle fans, scoring 61 goals in 155 games for the club before joining Town in 1976.

Mariner was on the verge of signing for West Brom - a fast emerging top team at the time - but Bobby Robson persuaded him to head to Suffolk and so began a career that would take the striker onto the international stage.

Six months after arriving at Portman Road, he was handed his England debut in a 5-0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley.

He led the line as Town tasted FA Cup success for the first time in 1978 and was named man of the match after giving the Arsenal defence a torrid time, smacking the woodwork with one effort. 

He was one of the first names on the team sheet over the next six years and played a significant part in Town’s 1981 UEFA Cup campaign, scoring twice in the 4-1 win in Saint-Etienne and once more in the home leg. Mariner was on target in the first-leg on the final against AZ Alkmaar and picked up a winners’ medal as Blues held on to win 5-4 on aggregate.

A year later he was leading the line for England at the 1982 World Cup finals, with Town team-mates, Mick Mills and Terry Butcher, also wearing the three lions in the tournament held in Spain.

It was Mariner’s goal against Hungary that had clinched England a place in the finals and he found the net as Ron Greenwood’s side opened their group games with a 3-1 win over France.

Paul Mariner .jpeg

He remained at Town until 1984 before joining Arsenal. Injuries hindered his progress with the Gunners and two years later he signed for Portsmouth before eventually finishing his playing days in the US.

A coaching career followed for Mariner in the States, most notably with New England Revolution alongside former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol before he returned to the UK to take up a job where it all began for him - at Plymouth.

A one year stint as manager there saw him win at Portman Road in March 2010 on his return to the Club where he had produced his finest football. He was given a standing ovation by the Blue Army as he made his way to the dug-out - and at the final whistle as Town fans stood for one more time to salute a Super Blue.

Inducted into the Club’s Hall of Fame in 2011, he made 339 appearances for Town, scoring 135 goals, including three hat-tricks.
 


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