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Peter Marinello; such a talent, such a waste

Even if you don’t know much about Peter Marinello, the table showing his clubs and the games he played for each, combined with the statements that

a) he was football’s equivalent to the Beatles (at least according to the press), and

b) he was full of natural talent

gives you a clue of what was to come.

Season Club Games Goals
1968–1970 Hibernian 45 5
1970–1973 Arsenal 38 3
1973–1975 Portsmouth 95 7
1975–1978 Motherwell 89 12
1978 Canberra City 11 1
1978–1980 Fulham 27 1
1980–1981 Phoenix Inferno USA 25 17
1981–1983 Heart of Midlothian 21 3
1983–1984 Partick Thistle 6 0

He had the looks, the skill, and no one to keep him on the straight and narrow.  He made a fortune, and lost it all, and became famous all over again for taking a hand gun to his business partner.

Arsenal paid £100,000 – a record for the club – for him and he started appearing at once on north London billboards – advertising milk as I recall.  He also worked as a fashion model, appeared on Top of the Pops, and worst of all, he believed in all the hype, and didn’t realise that most people who hang around the rich, famous and naive are crooks.

Bizarreness seemed to latch onto him, no matter what he did or tried to do.  Hibs took him on a tour of Nigeria and Ghana, at the start of the Biafran War, and naughty things happened, according to his autobiography.

Later he said that he was really unsure about moving to Arsenal and rather liked being at Hibs, but he was transferred, given one of the highest salaries in football, and took on everything that London offered in the 1970s.  Drinking, gambling… I don’t really have to go on.  He found himself surrounded by advisers who were in fact con artists.  Not the first nor the last so to suffer, but that’s what he got.

He invested in property, but the property market went down, just as his footballing career was going down as well.  At one stage he bought a horse with Alan Ball (!) and invested in a Spanish nightclub, but… well, you can imagine.  So in the public eye he became a boozer, a bankrupt, a man with a gun, and a failure.   But lest we cast him aside in our memories, perhaps we should remember too that his wife became depressed after the birth of their son, this turned into manic depression and his son became addicted to heroin.

As for now, he lives in Dorset and is a full-time carer for his wife, while training Parkbury in the Bournemouth Amateur League.  He says that Sammy Nelson, Charlie George, Eddie Kelly and Frank McLintock are among his friends.

He also occasionally works in match day hospitality at the Emirates, and plays with club’s veterans team.

And the rest of the detail…   He was born 20 February 1950, was an out and out winger, and he scored on his debut on 10 January 1970.

With all that talent his Arsenal record (below) makes such sad reading but Arsenal learned from it.  They learned that what was wrong with the deal was the issue of the young man in London without guidance, not that it was wrong to spend the cash for the right player.  Arsenal have continued to do that, and the failure with Marinello did not stop the club buying Alan Ball.

Peter Marinello – the league record…

Season Played Goals
1969/70 14 1
1970/71 1 (+2) 0
1971/72 4 (+4) 1
1972/73 13 1

4 comments to Peter Marinello; such a talent, such a waste

  • For me Peter Marinello was magic to watch, pace and skill, the only other players that could match him from the Arsenal double side was Charlie & George Graham

    Such a waste by the Arsenal management, wont forget the home game against Man U when he robbed George Best of the ball, my other memories of him is that he played in a few of the European fixtures and did more than well considering his time at the club.
    Would love to watch him in Today’s game !

    Would be an honer to buy him a drink, as he left me with some great memories.

  • Toby Martin

    Totally agree. Peter Marinello was like a breath of fresh air and I feel he would be sensational in todays game. Unfortunately, he played in the days of hard knocks, over the top tackles and very little skill. He will always stand out for me. I remember the first minute of the European cup tie against Ajax when the George Graham headed own goal knocked us out. Peter had a great chance to score in the first minute but unfortunately didn’t score. If that had gone in, who knows where his Arsenal career may have gone. Still, good memories and still held in affection by all gooners.

  • Steve

    Hi Toby, I was there too, In that match they kicked him out of the game.
    Fond memories

  • rob

    I to remember peter especially coming on as a substitute and lighting up the game with his fantastic dribbling.Stopped going after they never played him enough.Sad loss to arsenal and to british football

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