SO many mourners wanted to say farewell to Tommy Martyn that it reached the point of standing room only at St Joseph's Church in Leigh on Friday.

Lashing down with rain and hail in freezing temperatures, it was a mark of how many lives the former professional rugby league player with Leigh, Warrington and Batley had touched in his 69 years.

In paying respects to Tommy, the closest members of his family who had been at his bedside when he died in Christie's Hospital on Sunday, November 6, had support from squads of former teammates and one-time rivals among a throng from the rugby league fraternity.

Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont, head coach Neil Jukes, his staff and all members of the current team provided a guard of honour at the entrance to the church.

Warrington Guardian:

Described by former teammate Kevin Aschroft as "Shy, unobtrusive and unassuming", Mr Martyn was a hero to all those who loved him, knew him or watched him play – including his son Tommy, the man who had followed his dad's path into professional rugby league with Oldham, St Helens, Leigh and Ireland.

Warrington Guardian:

It was the perfect goodbye hymm as Tommy Snr left the church to Bette Midler hit: "Did you ever know that you're my hero, and everything I would like to be, I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings."

Tommy started out in rugby league with Leigh Miners, turned professional with Batley and had a short stint with his hometown club before being signed by Alex Murphy for Warrington in January, 1975.

Warrington Guardian:

As well as having an unrivalled ability to offload the ball out of the tackle, the second-row forward was a devastating wide runner.

Tommy was tough, too, and had a penchant for the Cumberland Throw tackling technique, grabbing the runner's arm, putting his legs in their path and mercilessly hurling his opponent to the turf.

He was a member of the Wire side defeated by Widnes in the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley four months later.

A tour Down Under followed with England that summer.

The following season Tommy was the Warrington Player of the Year and was shortlisted on the first of two occasions for the First Division Player of the Year award.

In the summer of 1979 he toured Down Under again, this time with Great Britain, but was forced into heading home with a dislocated shoulder after making five appearances.

He helped Warrington win the Lancashire Cup against Wigan at Knowsley Road, St Helens, in 1980 with a sensational try, storming 60 metres from a kick-off.

And then he was man of the match when The Wire defeated Barrow in the John Player Trophy Final at Central Park, Wigan, in his final campaign with the club.

In the summer of 1981 Murphy took the second-row forward back to Leigh, where they won the Championship together as well as the Lancashire Cup.

It was the last time Leigh were crowned champions.

In later years, Tommy was inducted into the Warrington Players' Association Hall of Fame as a testament to his service to The Wire.

Warrington Guardian: