It has been a big week for Blue & Gold co-captain Tim Mannah, and the occasion will only get bigger as the week progresses.
Kicking off the week on Monday, Mannah and his wife Steph welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Capri Rose, to the world, and Saturday night will see the Eels and the Sharks play for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup, in honour of Tim’s brother who played for both clubs before losing his battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2013.
The annual fixture honours former Eels and Sharks player Jon Mannah, and supports the work of the Mannah Foundation, assisting young people from all walks of life, and there is plenty of activities and celebrations planned at the Eels first home game of the season.
The events that have unfolded have put the Eels Round Three loss to the Gold Coast Titans into perspective for the forward.
“It was a pretty special day on Monday, getting to meet my daughter for the first time which was great,” Mannah said.
“It’s been a big couple of days, and really exciting, so it’s definitely a special time.”
“It was a bit of a reality check, coming back from the Gold Coast I was in the pits and disappointed in our performance, but having the birth of your child is something that puts things into perspective and you realise there is more to life.”
The Johnny Mannah Cup will is an annual clash and one that Tim and the rest of his family and friends cherish.
“It is a huge honour and really humbling. Our family are so grateful to both clubs for the way they honour Johnny, but also the occasion that the give the Mannah family and all his friends and everyone involved in his life, to really celebrate his life,” Mannah said.
“It’s a really great occasion and it’s turned into everyone’s favourite game of the year.”
“The family, friends and everyone associated at both clubs that knew Johnny, for them, they really enjoy the occasion and we are grateful to both Clubs to the way they honour his life.”
However despite the emotions and occasion, Mannah still remained focused on his job at hand on the football field.
“I am in a stage of my career where I don’t let emotions too much get the better of me, and I think every week you play a game is a big occasion. We have to make sure we turn up with the right attitude, we are not happy with our performance against the Gold Coast last week and we are really keen to make amends for it,” Mannah said.
“As much as Monday was a special day, and as big as an occasion the Johnny Mannah Cup is, and our first home game, at the end of the day, we want to make sure we put in a performance we can be proud of and one that we know we can do.”
“We weren’t happy on Friday and we want to make sure we are happy on Saturday night.” Mannah added.
“Right across the park, there were a lot of us that wouldn’t be happy with our performances. There were things in our performance that were out of character, and things that we need to improve on come Saturday night.”
“The disappointing thing is we went away from what was working for us in the past two weeks. It worked for the first two games, the first 15 minutes and we went away from it.”
And with the Eels looking to rebound with a win against the Premiers, the Cronulla Sharks this weekend, Mannah was hoping and urging to see the faithful Blue & Gold Army there in support for the first home game of the season.
“Our record at ANZ Stadium has really improved over the last 12 months.”
“It’s an opportunity for us to turn it into a real home field, the boys are excited playing there, and I hope the fans really turn up in big numbers and really create a good atmosphere for us to really feel like a home game.”
The Eels kick off against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday 25 March for their first home game of the season. The clash is for the annual Johnny Mannah Cup and will kick off at 7pm.
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