‘He should have a stand named after him’
Jamie Lyon scaled great heights but never lost sight of where it all began
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