Martin Pike with premiership teammates Alastair Lynch and Justin Leppitsch.
Martin Pike with premiership teammates Alastair Lynch and Justin Leppitsch.

Lynch: Why Pike is one of my favourites

WATCHING the impact Brisbane's mature-age recruits are having this year has got me thinking about one of my favourite ever teammates, Martin Pike.

Pikey arrived at Brisbane before the start of the 2001 season with a bit of a reputation as a wild man but it wasn't long before every one of us greatly appreciated how important he was to our club - even the younger players who he had a bit of a habit of terrorising.

We have all admired what Mitch Robinson has done since he has been at Brisbane and particularly this season where he has taken his game to new heights.

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Martin Pike celebrates the 2003 grand final. Pic: Kelly Barnes
Martin Pike celebrates the 2003 grand final. Pic: Kelly Barnes

Pikey and Robbo were both on the scrapheap when they arrived at Brisbane after being punted from their previous club.

They were both capable of putting the wind up our opposition and - given the way Robbo is going since his positional switch this season - they played their best footy for Brisbane as slightly unconventional wingmen.

And the perception of both players internally was far different to how the outside world saw them.

Mitch Robinson has been a revelation for Chris Fagan’s Lions. Pic: AAP
Mitch Robinson has been a revelation for Chris Fagan’s Lions. Pic: AAP

I remember the first time I became aware Pikey might be heading north.

Leigh Matthews had called a couple of senior players to gauge our views on his potential recruitment and I decided to do a little digging on my own to find out a bit about him.

I'd heard he loved a beer and could be a bit of a larrikin and the story about his axing from North suggested he had delivered some pretty pointed feedback to the coach Denis Pagan about his son Ryan, who had made a controversial debut for the Kangaroos that season.

I rang an old teammate and close friend of mine, John Blakey, who was a premiership teammate of Martin's at North Melbourne and told him we were thinking of throwing him a lifeline and asked him what he thought about that.

"Absolutely. Get him up there, he is a ripper,'' was his response.

Coming from a guy like Johnny, that was enough for me and I quickly passed on my support to Leigh Matthews.

It turned out that Brisbane were the only club who even nibbled at Pike, which to me is staggering considering how good he was.

Martin Pike talks with former coach Denis Pagan at the Kangaroos.
Martin Pike talks with former coach Denis Pagan at the Kangaroos.

The Pikey we came to know didn't quite match up to the external perceptions, although this week he reminded me not to go overboard painting his halo considering he was guilty of headbutting our CEO Michael Bowers as dawn broke following one memorable end-of-season wind-up.

I still think of the one or two occasions a year, usually after a few beers at a function, when you'd look across and he'd have the terrified younger players pinned in a corner somewhere.

Pikey, giving the respect talk again!

Mostly I remember him as the ultimate team man who could play anywhere and do any job. He still loves the Lions and probably attends more games and past player functions than anyone.

When I rang him this week to tell him I was planning a column on recruits and to check a few facts he urged me to mention Mal Michael.

"It is never recognised how important he was to us,'' he said.

 

Pike lays a big bump on Shane Woewodin in the 2003 Grand Final.
Pike lays a big bump on Shane Woewodin in the 2003 Grand Final.

I reckon the same can be said of Pikey.

If Jonathan Brown or Daniel Bradshaw were injured he could play centre-half forward. He also did some memorable jobs on good players in the middle of the ground and he started out as an undersized key defender. But it was on the wing where he really shone.

Although he looked scary and he certainly attacked the ball hard, Pikey wasn't a nasty player.

He never set any records on the training track and in the early years he probably wasn't as professional as he could have been.

But he was actually a very smart player with good skills.

And his finals record is phenomenal. He played in 27 finals with a 21-6 record including six grand finals for four premierships.

News Corp Australia


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