Further tributes paid to former Wigan Warriors vice chairman John Martin

Further tributes have been paid to former Wigan Warriors vice chairman John Martin following his death at the age of 77.
Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The ex-manager and licensee of the Riverside Club at Central Park joined Wigan’s board in 1992, and remained a member for many years.

He still regularly attended games at the DW Stadium and was a guest on Good Friday to see the Warriors’ 14-6 victory over St Helens.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gary Barnes, who runs the Remember the Riverside Facebook group and had been a friend of Mr Martin for several years, said: "We have lost a true legend today.

John MartinJohn Martin
John Martin

"The Riverside Club closed in 1999 but in spirit it ended yesterday. He took over the club in 1976 - it was just called the Rugby Club before then - and made a huge success of it until Central Park was knocked down in 1999.

"On a Friday and Saturday night it was the place to go. Those who didn't were really missing out.

"And he was a terrific singer. I remember going to hear him in 1984 because my parents were always going on about him and after that first time I was hooked.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He was a real trooper too - a workaholic even. He was ill towards the end but didn't want to let people down.

John Martin with Mike Nolan at Central ParkJohn Martin with Mike Nolan at Central Park
John Martin with Mike Nolan at Central Park

"John was also one of the nicest people you could meet and he would do anything for anyone, including a lot for charity.

"He was born in Oldham but considered himself a Wiganer through and through and loved the people of Wigan more than anything.

"One of his favourite moments was leading Wigan out against Leeds in the 1980s."

Read More
Wigan Warriors pay tribute to former vice chairman John Martin following the new...
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Phil Taylor, the former general manager of the Riverside Club, added: "He was the kind of person who would do anything for anybody.

"He did so many great things for the club, it was unreal. He made so many people’s careers.

"We used to do all of the catering for Wigan, and cooked for the players after training so they were eating healthy.

"One year the club had won everything, and Maurice Lindsay wanted an end of year dinner for 1,350 people, so we did that.

"Nothing ever stopped us, we wouldn’t be beat.

"I have great memories, we were like brothers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I remember we once had a fundraiser for the wheelchair society, and the song he opened up with was Back on My Feet Again- he didn’t realise, so it was hilarious at the time.

"He was a great character and a great man. He was very well respected.”

In 1999 Mr Martin - real name Melvyn Leatherbarrow - was gravely ill, but a quadruple heart-bypass operation and a kidney transplant gave him a new lease of life.

Thereafter he was a great advocate for the organ donor register.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the entertainment and hospitality industry for much of his life, another of his business interests was Goose Green Sports and Social Club.

Mr Martin, who latterly lived in Glossop, died at home and leaves a partner, Joan Burns.

Related topics: