HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Donald Anthony MARINKO
|Date of Birth||2nd January 1933|
Games 210 (Subiaco 3, West Perth 194, Western Australia 13)
Goals 103 (Subiaco 1, West Perth 98, WA 4)
Honours: West Perth Premiership Player 1932, 1934, 1935 (Captain 1934, 1935), West Perth Fairest and Best 1933, West Perth Team of the Century 2000, Life Member WPFC
AMONG the many champion footballers to emerge from the Goldfields, by no means the least is West Perth champion ruckman and half-forward Don Marinko snr, who in a 17-year career established a reputation as not only one of the greatest players of his era, but also one of the most stylish to behold.
Don Marinko was born on the Golden Mile at Kamballie and learnt the game at Christian Brothers College in Perth. As a strapping 1.8 m (5ft 11in.) schoolboy he attracted the attention of Subiaco and made his league debut on 23rd June 1923 before turning 16. Starting in a forward pocket, he made a favourable impression, with The West Australian reporting that “a word of praise should be given to young Marinko who signalised his debut in league football with a fine mark and a good kick for a goal”. After two further appearances that season he returned to the Goldfields to work underground on the Golden Mile and joined the Boulder City Football Club. He played in the 1924 and 1925 premierships and developed a significant reputation before being tempted into a second stint in league football. Several clubs sought his services, but after arranging to play for East Perth it was found that he was residentially bound to West, having inadvertently taken up residence in Osborne Park. East Perth’s loss was West Perth’s wonderful gain for in the subsequent 13 seasons he became a brilliant ruckman/forward and a key component of three premiership teams including two as captain.
Marinko’s greatest assets were his pace and agility for a big man and his brilliant left-foot stab passing which was used to great effect in partnership with champion full-forward Ted Tyson. After Marinko’s death Tyson credited about 500 of his 1197 goals to “Big Don”. “He was one of the best stab passes I’ve seen and hit his target 90% of the time. He had the ability to put perfect weight into his kick, either booting it hard when I was on a fast lead or softly when I managed to break clear on my own”. Contemporary newspaper accounts were equally eulogistic over a long period with three examples following:
“Don Marinko has developed this season into a brilliant player – one of the finest in the land and last Saturday in the ruck and stationed at half-forward he was invincible, his marking, dexterous handling and kicking stamping him as a real champion.” Westralian Worker 22 June 1928
“Marinko is in wonderful form at present and is probably the best player in League ranks. He has dash, turns cleverly, possesses a sure pair of hands and utilizes both the half distance pass and the long drop kick to advantage. His work in the ruck was superb and when placed in defence his value never diminished.” Westralian Worker 13 September 1929
“Right out on his own was Marinko of West in the game at Leederville. His ruck work was of a very high standard, his marking very sure and spectacular and his passing of the ball ’a thing of beauty and joy forever’. He is a champion and his selection as a Carnavalian simply a matter of course “WA Footballer” 15 July 1933
Marinko maintained a very high standard of play over a long career and represented Western Australia 13 times between 1928 and 1936 often being among the best. After retirement in 1939 he was proud to see his two sons Don and Ray enjoy long careers in League football before their father passed away from a sudden heart attack in 1967. Selected on the half-forward line in West Perth’s “Team of the Century” in 2000, Don Marinko snr was one of West Perth’s most influential players in a golden era. His style was equally as attractive as it was effective and he becomes a very worthy member of the WA Football Hall of Fame.