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Fallen Idle by Peter Marinello with Will Price

Release date: 22nd March, 2007
Publisher: Headline Publishing

List Price: £12.99
Our Price: £7.99
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Midway through this book, following a goodly mix of humorous anecdotes and sorry tales, Peter Marinello, once described as the 'new George Best', a description that never extended as far as his ability, tells a story of the footballer's must-have accessory - a racehorse. In this case, it's his own - or rather, he part-owned it with a few pals and England's World Cup-winning midfield dynamo, Alan Ball.

As with many aspects of Marinello's colourful life, Go Go Gunner's racing career started amid a wave of optimism, yet although he came home second (at 20/1) in only his second start, neither Marinello nor Bally had backed him, even on an each-way basis.

Having reached this stage of the book, the reader will by now have an inkling of how Go Go Gunner's tale will unfold over the ensuing pages and true to form, having been advised that the horse wouldn't appreciate Windsor's soft going, Marinello and Bally opt to back the second favourite, Moor Lane and watch as Go Go Gunner snatches victory by half a length. By the end of the evening's racing, the duo were so skint, they had to borrow £20 from a friendly bookmaker in order to buy petrol for their homeward journey.

Marinello and his syndicate later sold the horse to Lester Piggot's wife, Susan, although the change of ownership did little to improve his performance and his final outing came at Edinburgh, where he trailed home last. His modest racing record read two wins from twenty five outings. "I could only sympathise," says Marinello, "Go Go Gunner showed great promise, but never really trained on. A bit like me, I suppose."

Peter Marinello burst into top-flight football when he was signed as a teenager by Arsenal from Hibs for £100,000 in 1970. He scored against Manchester United at Old Trafford on his debut and soon, a combination of good looks and steady, rather than spectacular, performances at Highbury saw him capture a series of modelling contracts and his own newspaper column.

The world was, quite literally, at this young man's feet, but it rapidly became evident that, while he would make a handsome living from playing football (which he subsequently did), he probably didn't have quite enough to make it at the highest level.

Over the next three years, he only managed 51 outings for Arsenal and by the summer of 1973, he had moved to Portsmouth, where he spent another two years, before embarking on an international career that led to spells in Australia and a lengthy jaunt in the USA.

Regular readers of footballing autobiographies will recognise much of Marinello's story, ostensibly because aspect of it, especially the increasingly heavy drinking, has been replicated in several others. As his football prowess gradually evaporated, so his career petered out; he finished playing in 1984.

However, what differentiates this story from dozens of others was Peter Marinello's life away from the football pitch. He clearly had a decent-enough business brain and although he sought no more than a comfortable existence, he became involved with a series of undesirable types and found himself swindled, bankrupted and arrested for attempted murder.

The PR bumf sent with this book describes Fallen Idle as an "extraordinary personal story of a talent that spiralled out of control." That's absolutely correct - but it's good to report that at last, Peter Marinello has managed to turn his life around, as his fascinating tale confirms.

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