Ladies Who League: Round 9

After a week of representative footy, our weekly blogger Mary Kaye can't wait for another Eels match! This week, she reflects on Jon Mannah as we prepare to play the Sharks for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup. See more of Mary's columns on Ladies Who League.

Who else missed watching the Parramatta Eels over the weekend? I know I did. I am so excited to see our boys back in action this weekend. Following two straight losses, it is important that we get back on track this week as we once again find ourselves celebrating a very special round.

In most of my blogs, I encourage all fans to attend the game. I know that fan support is critical to success on the field and it really means a lot to all the players to see a sea of blue and gold cheering them home.

However, this week, I am going to strongly encourage everyone to head out to the game on Monday night to unite and help celebrate the life of and show our support for a tremendous young man, Jon Mannah.

Jon Mannah is the brother of our inspirational captain Tim Mannah. Jon passed away on 18 January 2013 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and on Monday night, the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks will play for the Johnny Mannah cup in his honour.

This game was first played in 2013 in order to make sure that Jon's inspiration and passion for rugby league was not forgotten and continues long into the future.

Jon started his NRL career at the Cronulla Sharks where he played from seasons 2009-2011. In 2011 he came back to the Parramatta Eels to join his brother Tim, who the next year become captain of the team.

Despite Jon's talent as a player, I don't want to focus on his short lived NRL career, but simply take some time to recognise the tremendous individual that he was.

Jon was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009. His battle with this insidious disease lasted three and a half years. Following his diagnosis in 2009, Jon fought his way back to full fitness and even managed to play another 12 games for the Cronulla Sharks.

Despite the fight he showed in 2009, Jon had another relapse in 2011 while he was playing for the Wentworthville Magpies, finally losing his battle in January of 2013.

Everyone who met Jon (including myself on a number of occasions) was absolutely inspired by his tremendous joy for life and his courage as he continued to fight with dignity and grace.

He tackled his diagnosis with such a positive attitude and filled people with such joy, no matter his condition.

He was a true gentleman and a role model for our game and the NRL is a much sadder place without his fabulous smile.

So on Monday night, head out to Parramatta Stadium and support our boys in what will be an emotional game. Also, wherever you are when you are reading this blog, spare a thought for a gentleman we have lost and for his family.

I'm hoping to see Tim lift the trophy with pride on Monday night.

#celebratejohnny