Tommy Martyn vents anger at sport’s lack of reserve grade

Tommy Martyn the former St Helens stand-off, has slammed Rugby League’s Scholarship system, insisting that the best way for the sport to develop young players is for reserve-team football to be re-introduced.

Martyn played in the Oldham reserves in the late 1980s, having signed at the age of 17.

“I’m all for the reserves,” he said.

“I think they should go back to having ‘A’ Team football because the Scholarship scheme is ruining our game.

“Clubs put a big net out, bring lots of young kids in and then discard those who they don’t want. Back in my day, a club did their homework on a particular kid and then signed him and backed him.

“The kids aren’t getting enough money. They’re professionals on Scholarship terms. At 17, they should be given some decent money.

“I’d have been on more money at 17 than kids today. I got a good fee from Oldham, who weren’t even in the top division and I learned the hard way by playing alongside players like Charlie McAllister, Paul Round and Martin Hall.

“Kids in the Scholarships are mollycoddled. They’re only really playing against kids their own age. You don’t see many 17-year-olds in Super League now.

“But if they were in an ‘A’ Team environment, they’d learn from the older players. I played with Ken Kelly, who I idolised because he played with my dad. He directed us around the field and we learned so much.

“Nowadays, how does a kid get a chance to play with players like that? They’ve got to go on dual-registration and that system hasn’t worked either.

“It’s affecting the amateur game, because the rejected kids don’t then want to go back because they feel like a failure.”

Martyn also believes that Super League clubs should sign more players from the Championship and League One.

“A lot of good players are below Super League but they go under the radar,” he said.

“So many of them could handle the top-flight, but they don’t get the break now because once they get past 18 or 19, the Super League clubs aren’t really interested in them.”

League Express has a full interview with Martyn as part of the new ‘Rugby League Heroes’ series in the latest edition.