Posted: 6/13/2007
Title: FALLEN IDOL: GIVE US BACK OUR GAME

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     'The London George Best' was how the media announced the arrival at Arsenal in 1970 of Peter Marinello, a young Scottish player from Hibernian of Edinburgh. 'The next Beatle' claimed others.  He had the looks, the long flowing hair and the skill and The Gunners paid 700,000, a big fee in those days.

   I remember it well, and he scored on his debute at Old Trafford against Manchester United.  It was not to be a glittering career.  He had played free flowing football north of the border , but Don Howe, the Arsenal coach was much more restrictive of his talents, and of course the  legend of Boring Arsenal began to emerge.   He had too much time on his hands, was asked to make records, open shops, write books, do ghosted newspaper columns and in his recent autobiography Fallen Idol, he tells all. He is still married to his wife Joyce after almost 30 years, who still suffers from manic depression, and both his sons Paul and John have had massive problems. John became a heroin addict and his dad went out and bought up to 100.00 a day worth of drugs for him in order to keep him off the streets, and he is now a recovering addict.

   Peter became addicted to drink and much more, got in with the wrong crowd and is bankrupt. He teamed up with Alan Ball and others to buy a racehorse called Go Go Gunner, which won a couple of races as a 2 year old ridden by legendary jockey Lester Piggott, until as a 3 year old they called him No Go Gunner!!.  He later played for Portsmouth, Motherwell, Canberra City, Phoenix Inferno, Heart of Midlothian and other clubs but lost his way.

     GIVE US BACK OUR GAME, is a new organization founded in the UK by Paul Cooper  www.footy4kids.co.uk,  dedicated to letting young players love the beautiful game and not get disillusioned after harsh treatment from both parents and professional coaches.   Chris Waddle who played some attractive football for Newcastle United, Marseilles and England is a critic of the way youngsters are treated at the country's professional academies and so is Gordon Strachan, now coaching Celtic of Glasgow.  They were allowed to recruit 9 year olds instead of players in their teens, and he feels that the shouting, bullying and rigid coaching is taking its toll. Kids of 10 are told that they are not going to make the grade and released and many return to their local clubs with a disspirited attitude. Manchester United are trying to buck the trend by giving the young lads freedom of expression, as shown by many famous names who have graced the colours of the Old Trafford club.  The Football Association,the Premier League and the Football League are at odds as to the future of such academies.

    ALEXI LALAS was always full of enthusiasm wherever he played, with his distinctive wild ginger hair and goatee beard. He played for USA in the FIFA World Cup and Serie A in Italy, and is now the President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Galaxy.   WHAT A GREAT SPOKESMAN HE IS, for the Galaxy, the MLS and the game in America.  His photo and quotes are all over the world's media and he talks a lot of sense. He oozes personality, common sense, knowledge of the game on both sides of the Atlantic and eats British and Spanish journalists for lunch. Many are so uninformed about the progress of soccer 'in the colonies'  that they think that David Beckham will be playing in a bush league. Ask Fulham F.C. what they think of fitness and skills in the MLS.  There are more players and referees in USA than in England, and they eat less fish and chips and don't smoke.  I had a memorable evening at the Blues Brothers Club on Sunset Boulevard the night before USA played Romania at World Cup 94 in The Rose Bowl. The US team showed up and Alexi brought his guitar and played a tune.  He later made recordings such as GINGER, that didn't do so well and can be obtained on ebay for less than a plastic toy in a corn flakes box.

 

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