The images above are how I remember my soccer hero Paul Mariner. The flowing brown locks, the strikers touch and the many, many great years he gave my favourite team Ipswich Town before moving on. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I had the middle image on my bedroom wall somewhere. I've been an Ipswich fan since 1978, the year that they won their first and only FA Cup final. In fact, I have a now ill-fitting replica of that shirt somewhere around. I wore it proudly about 30lbs ago. Now Ipswich languishes mid-table in the Championship League, a now small market team that neither succeeds nor fails, not unlike the Toronto Blue Jays. The best part is I picked up their old away kit online for a song, and people don't know the difference!
Anyways, imagine the thrill and trepidation of finding out your soccer hero has become the manager of your favourite local team. The thrill comes from the fact that the legend himself is just a mere 70 odd km's away. The trepidation from the fact that TFC was a mess, and upon Mariner's arrival, some of his players got loaded and tried unsuccessfully to outrun the Houston police. Since then, Mariner has worked magic with the team. They've won 5 matches, drawn 4 and lost only 2 since he took over and find themselves on the periphery of the play-off race after their most recent win of 2-1 over Colorado. Plus, Mariner gives you the price of admission alone for his over the top feisty antics on the sideline. The team is playing well under Mariner and TFC would be well-suited to lock up the former Ipswich star and England international. Paul Mariner will never tarnish his legacy in my eyes. That's the way it is with your heroes. They can do no wrong. The only other athlete who comes close to Mariner is Dan Marino. A great quarterback, and might I say a fine acting turn in Ace Ventura Pet Detective.
Plus, Mariner has no grey in his hair, has not gone bald, and has not betrayed that magnificent flow he had in the 70's and 80's. It's almost a legend unto itself.
I am very happy for Paul Mariner's success, and I hope he is not uncomfortable with the One-Direction like adoration.
Ipswich fan 1978-