‘He should have a stand named after him’

Jamie Lyon scaled great heights but never lost sight of where it all be­gan

Rugby League Week - - News - BY MARTIN LENEHAN

WHEN IT COMES to raps, it doesn’t get much big­ger than one of the RLW Im­mor­tals com­par­ing you to another mem­ber of that revered eight-man club.

To hear orig­i­nal Im­mor­tal Bob Ful­ton put re­tir­ing Manly skip­per Jamie Lyon in the same cat­e­gory as Arthur Beet­son gives you a pretty fair idea of the re­spect Bozo has for the man they call “Killer”.

“Jamie was a cap­tain who led by ex­am­ple and al­ways made the right de­ci­sions on the field,” Ful­ton tells

RLW. “The play­ers love play­ing with him. In his own way he was a ‘pres­ence player’ – and to be a pres­ence player the play­ers have got to want to play with you.

“I liken him to an Arthur Beet­son – the play­ers just loved play­ing with Arthur be­cause he was a gamechanger.”

Apart from be­ing one of the Im­mor­tals, Ful­ton is also part of another ex­clu­sive club: he’s one of only seven men to have cap­tained Manly to a pre­mier­ship, lead­ing the Sea Ea­gles to glory in 1976.

Some 35 years later, Lyon took Manly to the 2011 ti­tle, join­ing Ful­ton, Fred Jones, Paul Vautin, Max Krilich, Ge­off Toovey and Matt Or­ford in Manly’s Mag­nif­i­cent Seven.

Vautin, who led the Sea Ea­gles to vic­tory in the last grand fi­nal at the SCG in 1987, de­scribes Lyon as one of Manly’s greats with an un­canny abil­ity to stand tall on the big stage.

“He’s got a great tem­per­a­ment, he’s la­conic, and when it came to the big games he al­ways put in,” Vautin says.

“I played un­der some great cap­tains and I wanted to play for those cap­tains, and I think Jamie’s one of those play­ers. He didn’t say, ‘Go for­ward’, he said, ‘Fol­low me’, and if we needed a run from dummy half or a kick from the side­line, he was in­spi­ra­tional.

“And he had plenty of abil­ity, plenty of speed, the in-and-away, a bloody good de­fender . . . I think he is one of Manly’s greats, no doubt about it.”

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sail­ing for Lyon, whose glit­ter­ing CV in­cludes 294 NRL games, 10 Ori­gins for NSW and eight Tests for Aus­tralia.

With that first-grade games tally stand­ing at only 70, Lyon fa­mously walked away from the Eels after one round in 2004 and re­turned to his home town of Wee Waa to play bush footy and go pig-hunt­ing with his mates . . . and help the Panthers to a Group 4 pre­mier­ship.

“I owe a lot to Wee Waa. That’s where it all started and what made me love the game in the first place,” Lyon says. “So to have that stint back there in 2004 re­minded me what I loved about footy.

“It was great to see their faces and how happy they were when we won the pre­mier­ship. It was a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment and the whole town en­joyed it, and I loved it as well.”

With his pas­sion for the game reignited, Lyon headed to Eng­land and pro­duced two stel­lar sea­sons with St He­lens in 2005-06, be­fore re­turn­ing to the NRL with Manly in 2007, where he’s carved a rep­u­ta­tion as one of the club’s finest ever cen­tres and cap­tains.

“To go back to Wee Waa from Par­ra­matta then from there to St He­lens and come back to Manly and forge the ca­reer he has done is an un­be­liev­able credit to him,” Ful­ton says.

“He has been one of the best cen­tres in the game world­wide and if any ‘best of’ side was picked from Manly, he would be in the cen­tres for sure. He’d be one of the first ones picked.

“He should have a stand named after him at Brook­vale Oval – that’s how much he has done for this club.”

In typ­i­cally mod­est fash­ion, Lyon plays down such a sug­ges­tion – but it’s clear that the praise from one of the game’s great­est means plenty to the 34-year-old.

“Bozo is up with the best who ever played the game and he’s an Im­mor­tal, so to get a rap from him is al­ways great,” Lyon says.

“It’s very hum­bling to get those com­pli­ments from some­one of that cal­i­bre.

“Plenty of leg­ends have played for Manly and to be in that group with Bozo and the oth­ers who have cap­tained a pre­mier­ship side here is awe­some.

“Down the track in 10 years’ time it will be great to catch up with those guys and have a beer. It was an hon­our to cap­tain this club and to do it along­side Ja­son King in 2011 was great be­cause he pretty much showed me the ropes early on when we were co-cap­tains and I ad­mire him im­mensely.

“He was a great leader and I just wish he’d been on the field with me [King missed the grand fi­nal with a pec­toral in­jury].

“I was lucky enough to get a try at the end of the grand fi­nal off a su­perb lit­tle pass from Glenn Ste­wart, which was nice be­cause we com­ple­mented each other through the years and had a great com­bi­na­tion.

“My kids have the photo of me scor­ing the try – it’s nice to walk into their messy room and see the photo hang­ing up there!”

‘I liken him to Arthur Beet­son’ – Bob Ful­ton

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.