If you cast your mind back to the late 90’s, as well as to the mid 2000’s, he is a face that you will remember well – a face that always used to wear headgear, and could play several positions in the back-line.
A face that was always well respected by his peers and by the fans, and a face who was committed to playing his heart out, regardless of the team that he played for. That man, is Tony Martin.
If you are a Warriors fan, a Storm fan, a Wakefield Wildcats fan, a Crusaders fan, a London Broncos fan, or a Hull FC fan, you will also remember him – with the 17-year veteran deciding that it was the right time to hang up the boots, after suffering an Achilles injury, earlier this season playing for Hull FC.
Itâ€™s got to end at some time for everyone and now is the right time for me and my family,” Martin said.
“Itâ€™s been a good career. Iâ€™ve played at some big clubs, Iâ€™ve played at some small clubs and Iâ€™ve played at some funny clubs. It was a highlight for me to sign for Hull FC, with a club that Iâ€™d looked at while I was over here and admired.
“Unfortunately, it hasnâ€™t worked out like that personally, but itâ€™s been a good club to be at and a good club to end my career with.
“I think the time is right now to take the family home, theyâ€™ve moved everywhere with me during my career, and I think the time has come to take them back closer to family.”
Martin has had a career full of highlights, but for him, it was his own individual performance in the 1999 NRL grand final for the Melbourne Storm, that is his proudest achievement.
“My fondest memory would definitely be winning the NRL Grand Final with Melbourne. It was a long time ago now, but it was a massive highlight for me,” he said.
“Iâ€™ve played professionally for 17 years in a lot of big games and with a lot of good people, so Iâ€™ve got a lot of fond memories from my career.
“I wouldnâ€™t say Iâ€™ve got regrets, but obviously everybody wants a bit more silverware. I would have loved to have played in a Grand Final over here or in State of Origin back home.”
He continued, “You look back on things like that and wonder, but you can never really know. Iâ€™m pretty happy, Iâ€™ve played a lot of games and done more than I ever expected to.
“To have played for as long as Iâ€™ve had and done what Iâ€™ve done, Iâ€™m pretty proud of that.”
Martin was also full of praise for all the fans, players, coaches and staff that had an influence on him throughout his career, both in the Super League and the NRL.
“I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who has helped me during my career. That includes the coaches and the players I’ve played with, but most importantly my wife, Mel, and my son, Tana.
“For them, itâ€™s been hard and Iâ€™ve not really stayed at a club for too long. Itâ€™s been a lot of moving and making new friends and I want to thank them for putting up with me like they have done.”
Shaun McRae, who is Hull FC’s Director Of Rugby, says that Martin epitomises what a true rugby league professional should be like, both on and off the field.
“As a coach, you only hope there can be more Tony Martins in your team. He is a passionate and knowledgeable guy when it comes to his rugby league, whether he is 17 or 33. He has given 110% week in, week out and even during his last few games with us here, and he has gone above and beyond playing with injuries and niggles,” said McRae.
“That is the true sign of the man that he would do anything for his team, whilst he is just as influential off the field being a keen leader amongst the players, looking after our younger guys and so on, and whilst he maybe hasn’t quite had the success he deserves as a player, it’s pleasing to look back on memories and achievements such as his 1999 Grand Final winnersâ€™ medal.”
He also added, “Importantly though, Tony is a family man and they come first, and we know that this decision is about them and an important one. Together they have decided the time is right, and everyone at the club and I’m sure across Super League, would like to wish them all a bright future after rugby league.”