Rugby league great Marty Scanlan. Picture: AAP/Megan Slade
Rugby league great Marty Scanlan. Picture: AAP/Megan Slade

A cold beer with . . . Diehard Immortal

By Michael Nunn

A DIEHARD Immortal Marty Scanlan played 221 games for Valleys from 1964-75.

Scanlan and his Valleys Lang Park invaders would leave their home at Neumann Oval and descend on the home of league to play grand finals during a royal blue era of Brisbane football. They would play in six grand finals in a row from 1969-74 and Scanlan would be captain of Valleys in three big September days.

I pulled up to Neumann Oval and spoke to Marty Scanlan.

How did you end up at the Diehards?

My brother Jim was playing at Valleys. He was friends with Norm Pope who was coaching Valleys first grade at the time so I used to go along to training. Jim would take a few players with him so if I could get a seat I would be there. Valleys would train at the Valley State School so I would sit there and watch and I fell in love with them.

In 1964, I made my debut off the bench in first grade against Brothers at Lang Park.

It's 1972 and you won the Rothmans Medal. Is that your best year?

It started out as my best year. I think captaincy made me a better player.

I won the Rothmans Medal, which they used to present at Lang Park at the end of the regular season.

I was not there. I was at home and my wife was listening to the medal count on the radio. She came outside to me and said I think they just said you have won the Medal.

I headed in to Lang Park to get the medal from our home at Banyo. My wife wanted me to catch the train but I said I will drive and that did not work out too well.

It was not too late but I was tired, fell asleep on Racecourse Road going home and hit a pole.

I hurt my head, had 15 stitches, and hurt my knee. I was taken to hospital and the doctor said you would not play again for a while.

I missed our final against Brothers which we won 12-6 but I came back against Wests in the prelim final and we beat Wests 20-14.

Then back for a check-up and the doctor was not too happy with me and I explained I was going to play the grand final against Easts.

Valleys Skipper Marty Scanlan presented with the keys to his Footballer of the Year award, a new datsun 180B sedan in 1972.
Valleys Skipper Marty Scanlan presented with the keys to his Footballer of the Year award, a new datsun 180B sedan in 1972.

Of course the game is famous for Fyfe's field goal and we lost by a point. At full-time, Henry Holloway came, grabbed me, and took me down the tunnel to tell me mum had suffered a heart attack during the game and passed away in the stands at Lang Park.

She came to all my games every week, never missed one. I still have her ticket to that game- $2.50 for a ticket to the grand final. It was a sad way to end the season.

It was a golden period for Valleys. What made the Valleys era so special?

Two reasons we were so successful. We loved playing with each other and Henry Holloway. He was a terrific coach. I know Bob Bax had a fantastic record at Norths and I played under Bax twice but I could not see anything Henry could not do.


Marty Scanlon with 1973 trophy
Marty Scanlon with 1973 trophy

In 1971, you play for Queensland - game two and three. Queenslanders are sent off and one Blue. What happened?

Well to put it simply there was a hell of a fight and three of our guys got marched. We were 100 to 1 when we had 13 when you have 10 we were blew out even further.

Bob O'Reilly and John O'Neill were stuck into Russell Hughes and Rod Tolhurst and then our fullback, captain Ray Laird, got in there, and we had three players off.

Do you have a favourite Ipswich teammate at Valleys?

I could not pick between John Crilly and Hugh O'Doherty. I loved them both. They came to us in 1970 and just fit in straight away. Terrific teammates.

You played for Brisbane against Ipswich. How did you find Bulimba Cup?

A trip to Ipswich they were tough. I remember the crowd out there and walking down the race for the game.

I recollect one of my first Bulimba Cup games. A kick has gone up and the kicker has copped a late hit well the Ipswich crowd was not happy and at half time we are sitting there and I remember Fonda Metassa suggested let's just go home now. We did not go home but we certainly did not muck around at the end of the game.

I remember players not even showering just getting on the bus. Bulimba Cup was such proud games you were representing your city.