The SW XI – GK: Alan Marriott

Courtesy of Graham Burrell

The first position on the Stacey West XI has been picked and it has gone to long-serving keeper Alan Marriott.

At today’s cut off point, Mazza had 269 votes, which equated to 43.39%. Second place went to David Felgate (113, 18.2%), third to Peter Grotier (107, 17.2%).

Alan Marriott made 395 appearances for City in a spell that lasted nine years. He joined in the 1999/2000 season after leaving Tottenham Hotspur, but was no more than a third-choice keeper behind John Vaughan and Barry Richardson. He made his debut against Torquay United just a month after the millennium celebrations and the rest, as they say, is history. He kept his first clean sheet ten days later as we scored an uncharacteristic 3-0 win against Plymouth Argyle. Within a month we’d also beaten Carlisle 5-0 and Mansfield 3-0, giving him three convincing shut-outs in his first month.

Marriott quickly established himself as one of the best shot stoppers in the lower Leagues but even that reputation had to be earned again and again. Phil Stant dropped him for a spell, as did Alan Buckley, but it was the arrival of Keith Alexander that saw the youngster mature into one of the finest keepers in Lincoln City’s history.

He was the final line of defence in the 2002/03 season, ever-present as Keith’s collection of nobodies became far greater than the sum of their parts. He conceded 37 goals that campaign, never beaten more than twice in a game and ending up on the pitch at the Millennium Stadium. Sadly, he was beaten five times there but after the sting of defeat came pride at the achievements. That season saw him take part in a 2-0 win against Hartlepool, runaway leaders at the time. City were excellent that night, but Hartlepool could have had six if it hadn’t been for Mazza’s outstanding personal performance.

Between September 2001 and September 2004 he was ever-present, for three straight years he was the Imps keeper until missing out in the September 25th home draw with Chester, when Canadian Simon Rayner took over.

He was swiftly back in the net as City made the third play off appearance and reached the second final, only to lose 2-0 to Southend. There was no disgrace for the keeper though, an inability to finish chances cost us dearly. He penned a new three-year deal at the end of the season, bucking the trend of players leaving the club. With one swift wiggle of a pen, he signed himself into Imps legend.

It was September again, this time 2005, that brought arguably his best display in a City shirt, the 5-4 defeat at Fulham. On the national stage he produced a phenomenal display to send us through to an extra time defeat against the Premier League side, but it was nothing we weren’t used to seeing every week. Once again we finished top seven, once again the likeable keeper was in goal as we suffered play off agony.

Mazza had his limitations, of course he did. He wasn’t the tallest of keepers and that could lead to accusations of not commanding his area. Most of the time, he didn’t need to, at any one time having Jamie McCombe, Gareth McAuley or Ben Futcher able to mop up anything in the air. Where he did come into his own was shot-stopping. On his day, there was no better keeper in League Two, he was worth a goal head start in some games. You couldn’t even say he had a ‘strongest season’ either, he was consistent every week, season after season. He was here before the Keith era started, he was here after the team had broken up and Peter Jackson began to pick apart the carcass.

After Keith left the club, Schoey took over and Mazza remained to feature in the fifth play off appearance, a disappointing defeat to Bristol Rovers. On a personal level it was a fine season for Mazza, breaking two club records. Against Torquay United on February 10th 2007 he broke a long-standing club record, with the clean sheet being his 100th for the Club in League and cup competitions, surpassing Dan McPhail, a keeper from the 1930s. Not long after, in the home match against Swindon Town on March 25th 2007 he broke the all time appearance record for an Imps goalkeeper, also held previously by McPhail.

All pictures courtesy of Graham Burrell

The following season, John Schofield departed and Peter Jackson arrived. He didn’t fancy the record-breaking keeper, drafting in error-strewn Ben Smith to replace Mazza. That didn’t work, but at the end of the season he was released, just a solitary campaign short of a testimonial. It was a shocking way to treat a club legend and something I shall never forgive Jackson for.

After a brief spell at Rushden and Diamonds he moved to Mansfield Town, making over 200 appearances for them before retiring. In a fitting end to his career, he kept three clean sheets in his final four games.

He should never have been discarded as he was, had he been retained he would have gone on to be the Imps all-time record appearance holder, something he would have richly deserved.

I know through the course of this vote there will be a lot of debate about who should be in what position, or how the age of the voters makes a difference, but I don’t think anyone can possibly disagree with Alan Marriott being named as the keeper. Congratulations to Alan on being the first player in our Stacey West XI.

So, it’s on to the next position, right back. There’s a Twitter thread running right now where you can nominate a player, if you don’t do Twitter you can comment on the blog below to suggest a player. Nominations will continue for 24 hours before we go to the vote.



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