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Interviews Rugby League

Int03 - Television Identity Ray Martin. Ray was interviewed by David Hundt

Posted by... quigs eraofthebiff - on ... Saturday, June 02, 2012


Queenslanders for South Sydney





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Text of an Interview with leading
Television Identity Ray Martin.
Ray was interviewed by David Hundt for the website
Queenslanders for South Sydney.
(The EOTB recommends a visit to the Q for SS website)

Courtesy of the Queenslanders for South Sydney Website

Ray Martin joined the Board of South Sydney in April after decades of supporting the club. He was also one of the many high profile supporters who were instrumental in Souths bid for re-instatement to the NRL from 1999 to 2001. He was kind enough to speak to QforSS about his involvement with, and love for, South Sydney.

How did you first come to support the Rabbitohs, and what are some of your initial memories?

My father grew up in Maroubra and I had no choice but to follow Souths - I was indoctrinated from a young age of the South Sydney legends. We lived in country NSW, where my father worked as a fitter-and-turner. The only thing he cared about were the results from Sydney in the Monday papers. He used to wear a Souths jersey around the place, I'd always see him in the back yard with it on. I never lived in the South Sydney district but I've always been a supporter. It's funny - whenever I was posted away from Sydney for work, Souths seemed to win a premiership. In 1989, when Souths were doing so well under Mario and it looked like we might win another premiership after long last, my mates said that they'd pay me to go away again! I spent a lot of time working interstate and overseas when I was with the ABC in the 1960s, and the Mighties did especially well then.

My first memories of the team playing was when my father took me to see Clive Churchill and Jack Rayner play in a semi-final against Newtown in 1954 or 1955. I can remember that game clearly, because Ian Moir scored a try that day. Souths won the premiership fairly often in those years. When you're a kid, you like to follow a winning team, and I stuck with Souths. There was no need to change teams, and I've followed them ever since. My family had a house on one of housing commissions in Sydney; it was a small place with three bedrooms. My parents had one room, my sisters had another, and I had the tiniest bedroom of all. I'd sit up late with one of those old Bakelite radios - the ones that were around before transistor radios - on Saturday nights and listen to the Kangaroo tours from England. The games were played after midnight our time, which was a pretty late hour for an eight-year-old to be awake. Mum would come in and find me up at some ungodly hour, and tell me to go to bed. I used to collect Rugby League Week and other football magazines and cut out all the pictures of the Australian players, because two-thirds of them were from Souths.

Who have been your favourite players down the years?

I loved Jack Rayner but I could never understand how he could be captain of Souths while Clive Churchill captained Australia - it seemed bizarre. Rayner was such a powerhouse forward. Churchill was certainly a favourite of mine too. Then there were Bob McCarthy and John Sattler. I've got a big photo of Satts in my office, I'd say he was my favourite. He always played it so straight and so tough. His game would've easily transferred to the modern game - you can't say that about many players. He was just such a brick wall. Jimmy Lisle, Eric Simms and Kevin Longbottom were great too. Thinking of them and seeing Hazem El-Masri in the recent game we played reminds you that a team must have a goal kicker who can get seven from eight on a regular basis. They are match winners. Mario Fenech has been brilliant in more recent times. I loved to see him leading Souths, especially his battles with Benny Elias. They were always a great confrontation. Craig Coleman - he was a terrific, tough little roustabout of a player. Spud Carroll was up there too - he was the last really great player. Terry Fahey of course. But Mario was the giant of the modern era. I can understand the reasons for him leaving. It's sad when local boys have to do that. It makes you cry sometimes to see Anasta and Wing run around for the opposition.

Please describe the most memorable occasion in your time with South Sydney as a fan and/or administrator.

First, there was the march prior to the first court case, when we moved from the Leagues club down to Town Hall. People were there from every club in the League, showing their colours. Newcastle sent down 11 busloads of people to rally for Souths. My wife's family are Sharks fans, and plenty of them came along to support us too. For me, it was a great display of the Australian ethos of giving people a fair go. I think we were badly treated by the powers that be. Another memorable occasion, one that sticks in the mind, was a game in the early 1980s when we beat Manly at Redfern Oval. I think the score ended up 19-18, or something like that, to us. Les Davidson was playing for us at the time, and he dropped the ball on the line with about five to go. A bunch of old Aboriginal ladies were sitting along the front of the grandstand, and they really gave it to him when he ran by a little later, telling him that he didn¡¯t know how to play. Souths' heart and spirit got us home that day, against a strong Manly team and in front of a full house at Redfern.

As a director, what is your current level of involvement with the club?

I don't claim to have any particular football expertise, I'm just an amateur and a fan of the club. My life and experience are in marketing. I¡¯m there to back Nick Pappas in his efforts to make the club more professional. There's a lot of P.R. work that needs to be done for Souths. Players have to speak and dress well. This is a profession now, it's big business, and sponsors take notice of how the club presents itself. The Broncos and Easts get that side of things right, whereas we make mistakes both on and off the field. We don't have a Leagues club to support us, but we have the best sponsor base in the NRL despite our losing games. We need to lift our public image: the players need to be seen as role models, and to act like winners. I hope to re-forge the relationship with South Juniors that has waned somewhat over the years. We also need to embrace the wider South Sydney family. I think that Souths has the best team brand name in sport - it's better than even Collingwood's or the Wallabies. We have to capitalise on it, and act like the Pride of League, not victims. We all want to be the Pride of the League once again. For that to happen, Souths needs to get young people involved in the club, so we've got to look attractive and classy. Recently I hosted an event in Sydney that raised over $130,000 for South Sydney. The people there were in the media, banks and major corporations - the big end of town. So many people have told me that they want to be involved in the club. We have to earn our way by using the South Sydney brand, but we can't live off it. We have to match the other big clubs on that front.

How have you rated the club's performance this year, and what are your hopes for it in the next twelve months?

Frankly, the team's performance has been ordinary. With a few exceptions, the players have dropped their bundles. They have not had much luck, and there are about four games we really should have won, so there's eight points immediately. But as Paul Langmack has said, we need to get that winning spirit back, and that brings you luck. I'd rate the performance as about three out of ten this year - it looks as though the wooden spoon is ours. Apart from Bryan Fletcher and maybe Paul Stringer, no one has really stood out. The surprising thing for me has been that there have been no bolters who have impressed. Unlike North Queensland, Penrith or Canberra, we haven't produced a player who has put his hand and appeared capable of playing for Australia. No Wing or Coleman has come through. That young fellow, Brett Kearney, looked fantastic early in the season - he's a really goer but he's suffering from serious injury just now. Next year will be a building year but it'll be tough. The players have to lift their game; they need to show more heart. But if we don't dramatically improve, we will face crisis at the end of the season. The NRL franchise agreements come up for renewal at the end of 2005, and you can't just languish at the bottom of the table indefinitely.

Interview by David Hundt, QforSS Secretary

The Era of the Biff would like to thank the QforSS, and Ray Martin for making available a copy of this interview. The Era encourages you, the viewer to visit their webiste by clicking on the link provided.


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