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Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by DGRollins, Mar 23, 2011.

  1. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    It's been a while since I looked for feedback. It's also been a while since I wrote for a (more) traditional outlet.


    Note: It's written for a soccer market – therefore I’ve used some UK terms (i.e. “footballer” a couple times). That’s accepted in my market so long as it’s not over the top.

    By DGRollins
    TORONTO-- It’s possible that Paul Mariner is in Toronto because of Danny Dichio.
    Indirectly, anyway -- the former TFC striker wasn’t involved in Mariner’s recruitment, but the fan favourite did score an improbably injury time tying goal against the New England Revolution in the final game of 2007.
    With Mariner watching on the sideline as an assistant with the Revs, BMO Field exploded as if Toronto had won the MLS Cup. The Reds’ fans eventually took to the pitch where they danced and sang for close to an hour after the final whistle. It was a fitting end to a magical inaugural season in Toronto, where its fans developed a reputation as some of the most passionate in the history of Major League Soccer.
    Mariner admits that the scenes at BMO Field that day and throughout the 2007 season influenced him when he was considering the offer from Toronto to join the club as the Director of Player Development.
    “I always looked over the border with envy at Toronto,” Mariner said just after being hired. “I remember in the inaugural season with New England when we came up...the fever pitch of the fans, which was something I hadn’t witnessed since my days in over in Europe – I sort of fell in love with the city then.”
    Toronto fans, who have now waited 17 years for a championship since the Toronto Blue Jays last brought sporting glory to the city, are desperate to fall in love with Mariner too. All he needs to do is win, and win quickly.
    Those that know Mariner best suggest that he might just be able to do it.
    Mariner’s influence on MLS is so great that it is sometimes easy to forget that he has never had a club of his own. He was an assistant under Steve Nicol in New England for six full seasons and is now in Toronto to assist Aron Winter as he adjusts to the North American game.
    Make no mistake, however, Mariner is nobody’s No. 2. He was instrumental in developing the great Revolution teams of last decade and, according to Toronto FC director of business Paul Beirne, he was a key part of TFC’s re-building strategy.
    “It was a really smart move to bring him in at the same time as Aron Winter,” Beirne said. “We’re now having real debates about key issues within the front office.”
    It’s Mariner’s personality that allows him to play that kind of role, Beirne says. No person is completely without ego, but Mariner is close to selfless within a front office team. Beyond that Mariner provides for a degree of wisdom that is surprising.
    “He has superb North American knowledge,” Beirne said. “We (MLSE) knew he was knowledgeable when we hired him but it was surprising how MLS savvy he was – he knows the salary cap and rules inside out. He knows what everyone (in the league) is doing.”
    Beirne has already seen evidence of that. Mariner is making the TFC front office better every day.
    “He’s developing Aron(‘s skills), he’s developing Earl (Cochrane), he’s developing me, he’s even developing (MLSE COO) Tom Anselmi in some ways,” Beirne says. “He’s invaluable.”
    So invaluable, in fact, that many observers were surprised that Mariner would agree to come to Toronto in any role other than as top boss. Mariner seemed to be the leading candidate for every head coaching vacancy in MLS for the last five years.
    Mariner insists that he doesn’t need to be in charge of a club to feel fulfilled. Actually, he told XXXXXX that he is “very likely” done with front line coaching.
    “This particular role is attractive to me at this time in my life,” he said just after accepting the job. He had a “dream” opportunity to return and manage in the United Kingdom for a club, in Plymouth Argyle, that he started his playing career with. He said he was proud of what he accomplished with the club during what were very difficult times.
    The Pilgrims were placed into administration, docked 10 points by the English FA while playing in League One. Mariner says it was a tough environment to work in and that he found himself missing North American soccer.
    “I have been in North America for almost 20-years,” he said. “It’s become a second home to me – I’m happy to be back.”
    Also happy to see Mariner back is former MLS striker Taylor Twellman. When Mariner got a hold of Twellman he was a 23-year-old athlete. Twellman says Mariner took that athlete and turned him into an accomplished footballer.
    “What’s great about Paul is that he really knows what to look for in a player,” Twellman, who had 101 MLS goals before retiring last year, said. “He helped me understand my weaknesses and made me the player that I was.”
    Twellman says that beyond Mariner’s value in shaping a player and making him better, he is also invaluable to a MLS team’s management of the salary cap. He can find value in the NCAA draft and knows exactly how to find the “diamonds in the rough” that every MLS title contender needs to have on its roster.
    And there is little doubt that Toronto needs all the help it can get when it comes to acquiring players, where a revolving door of more than 80 have suited up for the Reds in just four seasons. So, there likely would have been easier places for Mariner to make his return to North America than in Toronto. Fans are at a breaking point and media pressure is far greater than the vast majority of MLS markets.
    Mariner embraces that pressure, he says. He wouldn’t have taken the job unless he believed that he had a chance to turn things around and take the Reds to a MLS Cup championship.
    Beirne says that the organization has every faith that he will do just that. However, he cautions, it might not happen immediately. Before things get better there may be a few more frustrating days like last Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps.
    “It’s going to take (Mariner and Winter) time to build this, but even on Saturday there was a lot that was really encouraging,” Beirne said. “Although we are frustrated by the result we’d be foolhardy to base our opinion on what they are trying to do on one game.”
    Twellman agrees and thinks that Mariner is talented enough to see TFC through this re-build. He says that Mariner is not the type of person to let himself fail.
    “It’s going to be important to watch to see how he works with Winter,” Twellman said. The partnership with the former Dutch international has the potential of becoming one similar to what Nicol and Mariner were in New England. However, the two men will need to get along well for that to happen.
    Twellman doesn’t think that is going to be an issue.
    ”Does (Mariner) have an ego? Sure, he does – in the sense that he cares about how he represents himself and how he’s perceived. But, once you put that hat on and are part of the same team he is, he’s incredibly loyal.”
    Beirne says that Winter understands how great of an asset Mariner can be.
    “Aron knows that he needs to listen to Paul,” Beirne said. “He’s a younger coach and Paul has a lot to offer – especially when it comes to MLS.”
    When thinking of TFC’s new leadership group it’s impossible to separate the key individuals hired in January -- Mariner, Winter and first assistant Bob De Klerk.
    “Without the three legs of the stool we’d be far less complete,” Beirne said.
    Twellman agrees, but he’s upfront about his bias towards one of those legs – Mariner is not just his most important footballing influence, but also remains a close friend.
    “You’re asking the right person and you’re asking the wrong person (about whether Mariner will be successful),” Twellman said. “When I retired I could tell how much it affected Paul. When he gets involved with a player he becomes incredibly loyal and sincere in his desire to see that player succeed.
    “Toronto’s got itself a good one.”
  2. MartinonMTV2

    MartinonMTV2 New Member

    Thoughts as I go:

    * Your lede is really weak.

    * Verbs are weak. Too many "It was" sentences. You need to add some punch.

    * You have "XXXXXX" in one place.

    * Sentence structure could be improved. Here's an example. You say: "And there is little doubt that Toronto needs all the help it can get when it comes to acquiring players, where a revolving door of more than 80 have suited up for the Reds in just four seasons."

    I would say something like: "More than 80 players have suited up for the Reds during the last four seasons, so Toronto needs all the help it can get when acquiring players." Drop the extra words and the wishy-washy stuff. Take command. (I might even rewrite the "all the help it can get" part.)

    * Finally, who the fuck is Danny Dichio? He's mentioned at the start, and then I never see his name again.
  3. DGRollins

    DGRollins Member

    Thanks. If I explained who Danny Dichio was to my audience I'd be seen as being really, really condescending. This isn't written for a general audience. Not only does my audience know who Danny Dichio is, some of them have his name tattooed on their ass.

    XXXX is me removing where this is being published for the purpose of posting it here.
  4. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Agree on the lede. It doesn't draw in the reader the way it could. You need to take the reader and put them in Mariner's shoes. Really paint a picture of what it was like to be on that sideline during that moment, and how it made him want to be a part of the Toronto franchise. Was he soaking it all in? Was he in awe? Impressed? What was he thinking then, and later on when the opportunity came to be a part of it?
    You have a good lead quote to hook it into, but a few more questions and some tweaking could make it truly stand out.

    And, you never do get back to Dichio. I guess he scored the goal, but the opening sentence makes it seem like he played an active role in recruiting Mariner for the front office job. If Dichio is that well-known to your audience, then it seems like you're name dropping. Including him at all really just muddles things for no good reason.
    Reworking the lede can solve that problem pretty easily.

    It felt like you were clearing out the notebook toward the end. I think the last six paragraphs of the story could be eliminated and you wouldn't lose anything important.

    As with most stories, there's a few extraneous words here and there. Things like this:
  5. rmanfredi

    rmanfredi Active Member

    Make sure you fix the typo in your lede - "...an improbably injury time tying goal"
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