Ipswich Town finished the season in English League One in ninth place, even mediocre in the Third Division. League One is a collection of clubs with a past, here are Sunderland AFC, Charlton Athletic, Wigan Athletic, Blackpool FC, all of which have seen better days. But none of those clubs have fallen as deeply as Ipswich. The club was once a European Cup winner. It was the time of Paul Mariner.
The striker was only 68 years old, succumbing to cancer on 9 July, with England once again mourning one of their greats. British football has had to say goodbye to many of its heroes over the past year, from Noby Styles to Ray Clemens, from Colin Bell to Peter Lorimer.
With England on Sunday in a major final for the first time in 55 years, Mariner experienced a time when the Three Lions were as far away from him as rarely.
In 1974 and 1978, the country did not even qualify for the World Cup, being badly eliminated after two goalless draws in the second round at the 1982 World Cup, in which the Mariners were in. The image of the Mariner comforting deeply grieved English captain Kevin Keegan is perhaps the only thing that has remained of the tournament from an English perspective.
Mariner at the 1982 World Cup
Photo: imago sportphotodienst / imago / horstmüller
By this time the Mariner had already experienced his great successes in club football. As a young striker he moved to Ipswich in 1976, after then coach and later national coach Bobby Robson became aware of him as the Mariner scored 56 goals in 123 league games at his club Plymouth Argyll. There was no such thing in Robson’s riddle for the entire team. And so the coach, who had been commanding Ipswich since 1969, slowly built a top team at Portman Road.
Two Dutchmen Frans Thijsen and Arnold Muhren pulled the strings in midfield, Scott Allen Brazile in front swung next to the Mariner, defensive monster Terry Butcher in the back and his teammate Mick Mills cleared everything.
Runner-up and European Cup Winner
Ipswich’s glory days were long over indeed by the time they were once English champions under Alf Ramsey in 1961, now Robson’s troupe made up the city in the East of England, which otherwise had too many beauties to offer. No, dream again. They finished as runners-up for Mariner’s goals in both 1981 and 1982, and in 1981 the team crowned their run by winning the UEFA Cup, at that time also played in a two-way leg against AZ Alkmaar.
This was the Mariner’s best time, scoring six goals in a UEFA Cup season, but was surpassed by his Scottish teammate John Wark, who was the best scorer in the entire competition with 14 goals.
Mariner as an Instructor in the United States
Photo: Imago Sportphotodienst
Things went downhill with the Mariner in the following World Cup final, he played for the England national team until 1984, but his move to Arsenal eight years later and 260 league games with nearly 100 goals for Ipswich proved to be a mistake. .
After this he allowed his career to end in the USA. The United States became his second home, he works as a coach there and in Canada, and only sporadically returned to England. They experienced the crash of Ipswich Town from afar, the club became a lift club, and in 2019 it also relegated to the Third Division. And the fact that you could have won superstar Ed Sheeran as a shirt sponsor didn’t help.
The Mariner remains a club hero, with hardly any other name standing out for Ipswich Town as it does. He was on the pitch 35 times for England. Tonight at Wembley they will play for him as well.
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