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Lloyd Martin joined the Balmain Tigers in 1973 helping to win the Under 23's Grand Final. He spent a year with Brisbane Brothers before returning to Balmain until the end of 1981.  Lloyd was the first 5/8 for the Canberra Raiders and stayed with them until 1985 when he joined Bega, winning four comps in as many years. Lloyd begain playing football from 4½ and he retired at 47 years of age after winning a grand final with Bega. 

Where did you grow up? 

Auckland, New Zealand

What was your childhood like?
I grew up with my Mum, my parents had separated.  I had a younger brother and a younger sister. 
Did you collect footy cards as a kid?
Nope, I collected money.
What was your first football experience?
My father got me into a club, I started when I was 4 and a half, I was playing for Ponsonby.  There was a bit of controversy when I moved on to play for the Richmond Rovers, Auckland side.  A lot of my mates who played park footy with me also played for Richmond and we also had blokes like Fred Ah Kuoi and Shane Varley, who was rated the best half back in the world for three years.  I had a very healthy junior league. 
Who were your football heroes as a kid?
They’d be New Zealanders, Roger Bailey, Ray Williams
What got you to Balmain in 1973?
I was 17 years old and a couple of blokes came over from Australia, looking for someone or something.  They were happy with how I played and met me and sorted it out and got me a trial in February.    
It took a couple of weeks to get to the trial match because it was rained off a couple of times.  It was against Wests at Lidcombe. I don’t know who I came up against, I didn’t know anyone back then. In those days they had two trials, one with all of the good players and another one with blokes trying out and I got put in the good trial.  I guess they wanted to know if I could handle it. 
How was your time at Balmain?
In 1973 we had a very good side, that was the very first year they had the Under 23’s comp.  In our side we had Noel Maybury, Frank Reagan, Merv Muggleton, Mark Levy, Ronnie Palmer, Dessie Bonner, we had a very good side.  We played Newtown in the Grand Final who also had a very good side.  I marked Paul Hayward that day, and they had the Dawson twins. 

We won the comp and were celebrating when the First Grade Grand Final finished, Cronulla v Manly, how football should be played, rough.  

What happened in 1974?

In 74’ I got a start in the grades and I didn’t think I was going all that well.  I don’t know if it went to my head, or I wasn’t taking it seriously enough.  I had turned 18 by then and I was allowed in pubs and clubs and I saw what girls really do.  That sort of got me on the wrong road there for a while. 
I got through that year and we didn’t have a very successful year as a club.
How was the 1975 season?
The import rule was brought into commission.  We already had a very good half back in Jeff Shields who was an import and Les Mara came back from Souths to Balmain and he wasn’t an import.  So, unless I was extra good, I wasn’t going to get a start. 
I went and played with Brisbane Brothers. I had a good experience up there.  Well I didn’t like the beer, they didn’t have schooners.  I missed Balmain, not just my friends and stuff, I missed living in Balmain.  The people who lived around Balmain, and the education I was getting from them about life.  They were tough boys, if you mucked around, you didn’t make it. 
At Brisbane Brothers, the captain was Wayne Bennett, he was a very good player.  He didn’t like disturbances.
Before I went to Balmain I grew up on the streets, it was a tough upbringing and thank goodness I had that because I probably wouldn’t have been able to cope when I got to Balmain. 
In 1975 you came up against your old Balmain mates in the AMCO whilst playing for Brisbane, how was the experience?
A couple of my good mates were still there and when I was running onto field they were going, Lloyd, watch out, they are after you.  I knew I was going to cope it anyway. 
What got you back to Balmain?
I’d had enough, I went back to Balmain to get a job.  I was in Brisbane for one year.  I had enough of Brisbane and I think Brisbane had enough of me.  I played two years with Balmain Police Boys.  The only way for me to get back into Balmain was to be a junior, so I played two years juniors. I loved it, best time of my life. 
I knew I would be able to play Under 23’s, so that was my goal and then just battle on from there. 
When did you make it back into Grade?
1978, I played Seconds and then after four or five rounds I played First Grade. 
My First-Grade match was on a Leagueathon and we played Wests and Trevor Ryan was captain.  I came up against Rawlings, good player. 

I just kept going on in that year and I played 13 games straight and then I got sent off against Manly and that sort of put me out for the year, I came back for the last round of the comp and I got a run on in First Grade and that was ’78.

Ron Willey was the coach, tough man, he said what he meant and if you didn’t like it you could fuck off.  He would say my six against their six. I had respect for Ron, I can’t say that for many other coaches that I had. 

How was your experience playing for Balmain from 1978 to 1981?
You’re with your best friends, playing against the best players you know of in the best comp in the world.  Week after week, carrying injuries.  You must prove you can handle it, or you can’t handle it, and that is where the mental part comes in. 

My good mates were TR (Trevor Ryan), before he got hurt, Jeff Starling.  Merv Muggleton was my flatmate.  We were a family, you can’t really have one better than the other.  I did spend a lot of time with Gary Spears. 

We had some good players too, in came Geoff Naylor, Rod Morris, blokes from Queensland like Greg Oliphant.  Percy Knight, Olsen Filipaina we were all fighting for the 5/8 spot.  We also had Allan McMahon come back. 

Larry Corowa had 5/8 hands, he could take a ball running a hundred miles and hour around his calf muscles and keep on going.  He wasn’t just speed, he had a great football brain. 

Where you a good trainer?
No, I was a sprinter, not a marathon runner
What brought about the move to Canberra in 1982?

Frank and I had had our time together, he had enough of me, fair enough. They were quite right not to want me, I didn’t have a very good year in ’81.  I was hardly in First Grade.  They had great players there like Olsen Filipaina and Greg Oliphant, there wasn’t room for another 5/8.  

Canberra gave me a call and said can you come down and see us, and that is what happened. 

So, you were part of the first ever Canberra Raiders side, how was that?
They can blame me for a lot of things, but they can’t take away from me that I was the first 5/8 to ever play for the Canberra Raiders.  It proves I did something in my life, besides having my children. 
We had John McLeod, Rowan Brennan who came from Queensland, Ian Hamilton, Terry Wickey, Nana of course, David Grant, the greatest of the greats.  He was terrific, tried hard. 
There was a lack of professionalism at Canberra, and I don’t just mean on the football field, I mean everywhere.  That was their first time too, playing together as a professional unit. 

It was basically getting the squad together and getting to know each other.  Getting used to playing in the Sydney competition, the hardest and best in the world, week in week out.  Just because you played against a bloke who played for Australia last week, doesn’t mean the bloke this week will be easier, there isn’t much difference between them. 

How was your year at the Raiders in 1983?
I tried to get out of it.  I said you are getting Percy Knight and I know what will happen, he will be first choice 5/8.  The coach said, no, we need your name here so other players will come to the club.  I said I don’t really want to be here because you are bringing Percy and I am not going to get a go.  In the end I was right, I didn’t get a go. 
1983 was mostly Reserve Grade and filling in First Grade and ’84 was much the same.  They didn’t want me in ’84 and I said I am staying. 
What happened after the Raiders in 1985?
I went to Bega, captain / coached there for four years and won four comps.

The last one in ’88 we won the Clayton Cup.  The Clayton Cup is given to the best side in NSW Country by percentage of wins and losses.

Then I came back and played with West Pymble in 1989 and we won the comp and then I went to play with TR’s side, Saw Dust in 1990 and we won the comp.
I then went for a holiday with my brother to England and when I came back I captained Bega for 1991 and ’92 seasons. In 1991 we were beaten in the Grand Final.
In 1993 I went to Merimbula and we won the comp and I won the Player of the year in the Group and Player of the match for the Grand Final. 
My last game I played against Bega in a Grand Final, I was 47 years old. 
What are your Greatest Memories of playing Rugby League?
Being graded at Balmain, then being in First Grade picked, not coming off the bench when we played Wests in the Leagueathon.  I was picked in front of Les (Les Mara), that was a great moment for me. 
 Also winning the comp in the Under 23’s was very big.  We were bashing everyone. 
 
Bega, captain / coach for four years and four comps.
Winning the Claytons Cup in 1988.
I went from 4 ½ to 47 years old playing Rugby League without a break.
Who was your most respected rival?
I would say he scared me, Les Boyd.  I reckon he is the best player I have ever seen.  I rate him up there with Artie and JT.  You had to see the fear he put in people. 
Which was the best team you played against?
It would have to be Parramatta.  Manly had a good side too when I first started. 
I loved Sterling, Kenny and Cronin, all of those guys.  They were a very professional side. 
You knew some of the moves they were going to do, but trying to stop it was a different story.  I saw a play and I knew Sterling was going to give it to Cronin and I thought I have got this and tackled the Crow and I slid down his leg as he stood there like a rock and passed the ball and they scored.  They were a unique machine. 
When did you know it was time to give the game away?
No one would shout me at the bar anymore.  I thought, well that’s that.  I didn’t have any girls wanting to take their clothes off for me either.
What followed after football?
When I was 40 years of age, I had my daughter, beautiful daughter.  That changed my life and then having my son two years later.  I had to get a job and I went and became a security officer at Merimbula RSL and I have been there for 13 years.
 
How has the game changed since your playing days?
I don’t like it, don’t watch it.  The referees have too much to say again. 
I don’t like the rules and I don’t like how scrums can take up to three minutes, and no one is allowed to push. 
The best game we have ever seen is the 1973 Grand Final, Manly v Cronulla.  That was ruthless.  That is exactly what Australia wants to see in a Grand Final.  The two toughest sides having it at the end. 
Not blokes with their cocks in each other’s mouths while they are lying on the ground. 
I prefer knowing that I am going to get my head smacked for not playing the game properly, and the opposition know they will get theirs smacked if they don’t play the game properly. 
The worst rule that has been brought into the game is the mobile phone.  If there were mobile phones out when TR and I were going around, I would still be in jail. 
TV, the rules and referees have fucked up our game. 
You can’t beat 3pm footy on a Sunday. 
I took my six-year-old son to the Lake View Hotel at Marimbula to watch the Grand Final because he loved Sonny Bill-Williams.  He was falling asleep in the second half.  All they want to do is watch their heroes. 
Did you keep a scrapbook?
Julie Cook, who I was lucky enough to be engaged to at one stage, she started it and sort of finished it when I was at Balmain.  It is only because of that I have something, and she got some magnificent stuff that I wouldn’t even know about. 
What is your favourite restaurant?
Bourbon and Beef for everything, Sheilas and Drink. 
Closing comment?
I will tell you this.  I am very, very proud to captain / coach and I will say teach, I was 30 when I went to Bega, in the country.  I think the country is lacking so much, because we are not sending out the proper people with the right knowledge to coach them. 
That has to be the number one thing with rugby league today.  Please Help the Country. 

 

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