He came from an era where a hooker earned his keep by getting his feet to the ball in the scrum and winning possession for his team, and former Sharks and Eels rake John McMartin was one of the best at his trade.
Today it is with great sadness the Sharks inform that McMartin has passed away, aged 73, after a long battle with cancer.
Brought to the club from Parramatta in 1976 after representing NSW the previous season, McMartin was signed with the aim to consistently win the scrum count and provide his team with a better percentage of the football.
And while he had some big shoes to fill in following Kangaroo hooker Ron Turner at the Sharks, McMartin was an integral member of the team which won its way through to the Grand Final in 1978.
Ruled out with injury from the midweek replay, without his experience and steady share of possession the Sharks would eventually go down by 16-0 to the Manly Sea Eagles.
Rugby League Immortal, Dragons legend and former Sharks First Grade coach Johnny Raper was one of McMartin’s biggest fans. Like many, Raper was surprised McMartin didn’t go on to play more representative football.
“Next to Ken Kearney, he was the best hooker I have seen,” Raper said in the book Colour Me Black, White and Blue. “He was exceptional and would hold his place in an Australian football team. He was a great dummy half, as tough as they come, and he was always a team man. Not only that, he was a great striker for the ball.”
In all he played 92 games for the Cronulla Club, after having previously racked up 167 appearances for the Eels and one game for NSW. McMartin retired at the end of the 1979 season.
In 2016 McMartin was one of five extremely worthy nominees as hooker in the Sharks Team of the Half Century.
Funeral details will be communicated once they have been confirmed.
The Sharks offer their sincere condolences to John McMartin’s family including wife Cathy, daughters Angela and Jennifer and twin brother Mal.