Former International, Martin Gleeson, Tells David Clegg Details Of His Forthcoming Testimonial Year
It used to be that the award of a testimonial to a professional player in most sports was an acknowledgement and reward for ten years’ service to one particular club. Nowadays, however, this has been extended to a small, but select, group of players, whose exceptional contribution has been to the game, via one of three avenues. Those who feel that they qualify through any one of these are then required to submit an application to the RFL, under whose jurisdiction the scheme operates.
In the case of our own Martin Gleeson, he qualifies not on one, but on two counts, firstly through his international career, but also as a result of his career encompassing over three hundred games, starting with Huddersfield, and ending in the colours of the Salford Red Devils. Not only that, he has, behind the scenes , been undertaking work for the RFL, themselves, alongside young, developing players, over the past few years.
It was approximately twelve months ago that he learned his application had been successful, but was in no hurry to take it up, and had, in fact, intended to leave it until this time next year.
“A few things just happened to fall into place, which made it ideal for me to run it over the coming twelve months,” he recalls.
The year kicks off this coming Wednesday evening, with a joint event with Ryan Hall, who is undertaking his own testimonial with Leeds, over the same period. This will be a Yorkshire v Lancashire Legends Match, at Headingley, Leeds, KO 7pm.
“This is the only event we shall be organising, together,” Martin explains, “but with the quality of player we have been able to involve in both sides, it has turned into a really attractive prospect.
“There has been a developing momentum among former players to take part in occasional one-off matches, such as the Hybrid Cup game of a couple of seasons ago, and the time was just right for something similar, with the County match coming from that.
“That momentum also appears to have been taken up among the fans, with the players so looking forward to it. ”
It might be a couple of seasons since Martin last pulled on a jersey, but he too is equally keen tp be playing again, and his being involved on a day to day basis with the Red Devils has helped keep him in trim.
“I would have liked to have trained a bit more but you can only do as much as your body will allow you to,” he reflects. “I still feel in pretty good condition and can keep up with our lads to a certain degree.
“For a game like this, you just have to put up your hand and do the best you can, but there is always the comfort of knowing that you can take a breather whenever you need one, as there are no restrictions on substitutions.”
With his being the Lancastrian around whom the event is being run, Martin will be taking on the responsibility for organising the Lancashire side.
Six weeks later, the game will be followed up by Martin’s second event, which is a dinner to be held at the A J Bell Stadium, on the 28th October.
“The meal will be followed by after dinner speakers, Sale Shark, Mark Cueto, and Paul ‘Bobby’ Stridgeon, British Lions Strengthening Conditioner, who has grown a following of his own showing videos of Lions Tours,” he relates. “He and I were at Warrington together. It should be a good night for anyone from rugby in general.”
On the 3rd November, Terry O’Connor and Barrie McDermott will be hosting a Fight Night, again here at the A J Bell, in which fighters from across Super League will be contesting one another.
“There will be some pretty explosive characters up against each other, which will make it well worth while coming to watch,” Martin enthuses.
One further event, as yet undetermined, will round off his testimonial, later in the year.