Photo Courtesy of Graham Burrell
An Enigma is defined by the Collins dictionary as ” noun. a person, thing, or situation that is mysterious, puzzling, or ambiguous”, and I think that defines Adam Marriott perfectly.
His situation is clearly puzzling to anyone who has seen him when he’s on form. Let’s take yesterday’s match for instance. We huffed and puffed in front of goal, and to be fair to Jack Muldoon he had a good stab at influencing the game. He drifted out of it though and we didn’t really look like scoring after half time.
Enter Adam Marriott. He came off the bench and almost scored a header. Moments after that he collects Matt Rhead’s knockdown and fires a wicked shot at goal, only to see it parried to Harry Anderson who grabbed the vital first goal. His next touch was to take a step away from a defender on the edge of the area to draw a foul. From the resultant free-kick Sam Habergham scores a pivotal second goal that puts us one step closer to Football League.
Adam Marriott came on and he influenced the game immediately. It isn’t the first time either, remember the FA Cup replay against Ipswich? Marriott came on after eighty minutes and it was his sublime pass that led to Nathan Arnold giving us that famous victory. On New Years Day we were 1-0 down against Guiseley, Marriott came on in the 55th minute and won a penalty in the 57th that Alan Power scored. We went on to win that crucial game 3-1.
No contribution was more crucial than December 17th when he came on against Tranmere with the score delicately poised at 1-1. Within a minute he rifled home his first goal in three months, and to date his last for the club to secure a 2-1 victory. It’s said that the wins against FGR and Tranmere are the reason we are top now, and Adam Marriott delivered us one of those wins.
Many fans have clamoured for him to be given a chance to shine, especially as we looked short of goals for a spell in February and March. Instead we saw Lee Angol brought in, Jonny Margetts brought back and Jack Muldoon given rare starts. In fact Theo Robinson has started a Lincoln league game more recently than Adam Marriott, as Marriott’s last National League start was January 20th as we beat Dover.
It is frustrating and perplexing in equal measure, but when a management team has guided you to the top spot in the league and advanced stages of every cup tournament you’ve been in, you have to follow their judgement. At the beginning of the season Marriott grabbed three goals in six games, and he started four of those games. After a goal-less September he picked up his elbow injury, and that coincided with our superb form in the league. It was also perhaps bad luck that his injury came not long before Theo Robinson joined the club. As Marriott convalesced, Robinson capitalised. Marriott wasn’t seen again until the 59th minute of our away clash with Forest Green. He replaced Theo with us 1-0 down, a game we went on to win 3-2.
Since then aside from the Dover match his only starts have come in the FA Trophy, and he didn’t have to sort of impact you’d like to see from such a talented footballer against ‘lesser’ opposition. I saw him when we beat Gateshead, and despite him not scoring I thought he was our Man of the Match, a view which the Non-League Paper agreed with the next day.
There’s no doubt he is a thinking man’s attacker, he’s not all about raw pace nor is he about the ‘hurly burly’ of forward play. He’s nimble-footed, he looks for spaces and openings and (crucially) he isn’t afraid to have a shot. Yesterday I witnessed a couple of City players shy away from shooting from range, instead trying to unlock the defence with subtle passing. Adam Marriott got a sight of goal and he had a crack, and Harry Anderson was the recipient of the crumbs the keeper spilled.
Nobody can doubt his commitment nor his ‘match sense’ either. Watched the replay of the first goal, and as a group of players celebrate you’ll see Marriott retrieve the ball from the net and head back towards the centre circle. He knew the win was on, and he knew that a 1-1 draw wasn’t the very best we could achieve. We’ve seen it with Rheady too, but for a bit-part player to show that same level of awareness was first-rate. It would have been easy to have got caught up in the emotion and everyone celebrate the goal, but that simply wasn’t the case.
That is why he is such an enigma. Fans remember the vital role he played in those key games I’ve mentioned, but when they’re clamouring for him to get a start they forget the goal-less FA Trophy outings he made. They’re also quick to point out he should be ’90 minutes’ fit by now, and perhaps he should be brought out of the cotton wool. I’d argue that a team of sports scientists and trained medical staff are perhaps better placed to make that call than the good-old-boys sat behind me in their elasticated waist trousers with their stiff upper lip without a good word to say about anybody from Lee Angol to Alex Woodyard.
Even I have pondered why he hasn’t been seen so much recently, but it easy for some half-arsed blogger to sit around talking about things he’s not really trained to comment on. I think that Adam Marriott is due to be one of those players who will always baffle fans but not those who are in the know. I’m thinking other names on the list might be Brendan Bradley (for those much older than me), or perhaps Paul Dobson. Players who seemed to score goals and have significant contributions to make, but who never seem to be able to nail down that elusive regular first team start, or find the consistency to match their underlying talent.
Whatever the reasons behind him not getting regular football are, I’m delighted every time I see him getting ready to come on, because with Adam Marriott you know that there is a chance that he can make things happen. I wouldn’t bet against him scoring one more goal or being involved in one more magic moment to just strengthen his ‘cult hero’ status at Sincil Bank.