Over the years Peterborough United have kick-started Football League careers for a number of strikers, including Dwight Gayle, Britt Assombalonga, Craig Mackail-Smith and Connor Washington.
Now, they’re latest main man, Jack Marriott, is matching the numbers set by those former Posh forwards in just his third full season in England’s top-four divisions.
The 23-year-old is the leading marksman in League One with 26 goals and has notched 32 across all competitions – figures that were not a target before he kicked off his first campaign at the ABAX Stadium.
“I had my targets in place but did I think I would reach 30 goals? Maybe not,” said Jack.
“But I always back my own ability, work extremely hard and had every intention of reaching that level.”
Following his switch from Luton Town last summer, it didn’t take long for Jack to realise that he could be in for a very special season, as he hit the ground running with Posh.
“After the first month, I’d scored six in three, and that’s when I thought these numbers could be possible,” he said.
“I had my targets at the start of the season, but after August they increased just because I thought ‘hang on, I can really kick on now’.”
Most players know their favourite goal, but having notched up so many different types of strikes in a variety of scenarios this term, the Yorkshire-born poacher looks back most fondly on more than one.
“The last-minute winner at home to Wigan, last-minute winner away at Bury and last-minute equaliser away at Rotherham were big in terms of results,” he said.
“I also quite enjoyed the lobs I scored at home against Rotherham and the one away at Plymouth, which was probably the best in terms of the actual goal.
Jack in the Box
Although his goals haven’t secured a play-off spot for the Cambridgeshire side, Jack’s exploits earned him the honour of being named in both the PFA and EFL League One Team of the Season, something he describes as “absolutely huge”.
But despite being in those all-star XIs, and shortlisted for the third-tier’s Player of the Year Award, 2017/18 is actually the first time the forward has reached the much coveted 20-goal mark, never mind 30.
“I always felt that this season was going to be a good one because I learnt an awful lot in my time at Luton,” he said.
“My first season there was about adjusting to league football, getting in and around the squad, playing a few games and obviously scoring a few goals.
“Last season defenders knew about me so I had to adapt my game but also cope with finding myself out of the team an awful lot.
“All this I feel helped me learn a lot about myself and gave me all the tools to go out and do well on the pitch this time.”
Power of The Posh
With his time at Kenilworth Road – where he won the club’s Player and Young Player of the Year Awards in his first campaign – coming to a close after that difficult end to 2016/17, Jack was all too aware what a move to Peterborough has done for other strikers in recent times, making the switch a no-brainer.
“When I first had the offer of going to Peterborough I knew all about the other strikers that have been here,” he said.
“I’m close friends with Craig Mackail-Smith so I know all about the career he’s had. That’s only inspired me to do the same.
“Assombalonga scored 33 and got his move to Nottingham Forest, Mackail-Smith had 27 in the league, 32 and an additional three in the play-offs, so I know they’ve surpassed the 30-goal mark here.
“To even be mentioned in the same breath as those guys is an absolute honour, as they’re unbelievable players.”
Just like Mackail-Smith and Assombalonga did during their prolific stints at London Road, Jack is inspiring many young Posh fans with his match-winning performances on the pitch.
As someone with a burning desire to improve each day, Jack gets his inspiration from a number of players that play in his position.
“I have always been a huge fan of Sergio Aguero and still watch his clips now,” he reveals.
“I study his movements and the things he does. He’s a real talent and one of the best in the world.
“When I was growing up I always liked Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer – they’re the sort of people you watch and try to take little bits from.
“I have always watched strikers during games, sometimes I would watch a match and only watch the strikers.
“Even when I used to watch Northampton as a kid sometimes I would always watch Scott McGleish. He was a lively centre forward and his movement was very good.”
Feet on the Ground
Jack’s form unsurprisingly attracted a lot of speculation in the January transfer window, with speculation indiciating that both Premier League and Championship clubs were looking to acquire his services.
But despite all the news surrounding him, Posh’s number 14 was firmly focussed on carrying on his good form in the blue of Peterborough.
“It’s one of those where I was just focusing on my football and I actually I had quite a good January,” he said.
“If it’s something that’s in my hands I’ll give it the time of day but when it’s all speculation and rumours, it’s not really anything to do with me.
“There was all sorts of speculation, but it was more people saying things, more than me going out and looking for it.
“If something were to happen then fine, I’ll obviously consider what to do from there but it was probably the last thing on my mind really.”
“I signed with Skillequal when I was 16 and, if anything, they’ve just been steady and secure and always there when I’ve needed them. When I moved to Luton and Peterborough they were there to help and have always been on the phone. One thing with agents is, when you are not in the team, they can forget about you but when I wasn’t in the team at Luton they were constantly on the phone . They are not only interested when things are going well, it’s when it’s going the other way they want to help build it back up again. There’s not an awful lot of loyalty in football so to have loyalty with your agency is personally very good for me.”
Going back to the start of his footballing career, Jack actually started his journey in the Championship with Ipswich Town.
After impressing in the youth teams, he signed his first professional deal with the Tractor Boys in February 2013.
Competition for places saw him make a number of loan moves and just three first-team appearances before departing for Luton in 2015 – a move that got the striker’s career up and running.
“It was the right time to leave Ipswich,” admits Jack.
“I had been out on loan and I was obviously not going to get in the team there.
“It wasn’t necessarily a case of thinking I had something to prove, it was a case of progressing my career and I needed to make that drop down to be a regular in a first-team and use it as a springboard to go back up.
“I dropped down to Luton, played games, scored goals and now I am at Peterborough in League One.
“I’ve got no complaints with the route I had to take, as it’s been a massive learning experience and I’m all the better for it now.
Jack had five loan spells across three division in his time at Portman Road, taking in spells at Bristol Rovers, Gillingham, Woking, Colchester United and Carlisle United.
Like many young players, not all of the forward’s temporary moves went to plan, but all played a crucial role in his development.
“My loans to Woking were very successful,” he said.
“I scored goals, played regular football and that was very important to my development.
“A couple of league loans I had, if anything, probably ended up unsettling me. I think it probably wasn’t the right time to go on loan to those particular clubs, but I still learnt a lot.
“That’s one thing I will always do, even if things are not going great, I will still try and learn and take as much from it as I can. I always try to find the positive.”
There’s been positives a plenty on the field for Jack this term, but he’s been delivered with the biggest one of all off it with the birth of his four-month old son.
And the newest addition to the Marriott family has provided the Posh marksman with extra motivation to continue to improve and progress in his career.
“I’m a family man – my son and my missus are my life and my priority.”
“They are why I work so hard and why I want to achieve because I want to give them the best life possible.
“I’m just happy coming home, back to reality and chilling with them. It sounds quite boring but that’s what works for me. That’s life and that’s all I want to do.
“If I can have a successful career and be a great Dad, happy days!”
Despite a few early career setbacks, his current determination, work ethic, positive mindset and talent means whether it’s being a Dad or a footballer, the sky’s the limit for Jack Marriott.
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