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Joe Marston 1926-2015

30 November 2015

Joe Marston 1926-2015

Former Preston North End and Australian defender Joe Marston passed away on Sunday aged 89.

Preston North End would like to send its condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

Joe was a PNE stalwart in the 1950’s, as explained in this profile by Club historian Ian Rigby…

Australian-born Joe, who once worked in a factory that manufactured paint brushes, made his debut for a local team in Sydney, Leichhardt-Annandale, as a teenager in 1943. During 1947, now aged 21, Joe made his international debut for the Australian national side, versus South Africa. He caught the eye of many, including a certain Percy Sewell who had connections with football clubs in Lancashire. Although Blackpool turned down the chance to take Joe on trial, Preston North End did not. The rest is history.

Joe came over to England early 1950 and his first game on English soil was for Preston's reserve team at Sheffield United on 18th February 1950. It was an eye-opener for Joe, who had travelled halfway around the world, from a sun-drenched beach life style, to training on frozen pitches in the North West of England. After a month playing in the right back position he was switched to centre half in another reserve game, at Bury. In this game it was duly noted that he looked the part and that he was keen, willing and eager to get into the swing of English football. The decision was made that he would be of more use to PNE as a centre half and so he was groomed for that particular role for the remainder of the 1949/1950 season, in the reserves.

Ironically, Joe actually made his full league debut at right back, the position he had been changed over from, away at Barnsley on the 21st October 1950, in a second division game. He had a run of five games filling in for regular full backs, Willie Cunningham and Joe Walton prior to dropping back into the reserve team. As it has happened many times over, someone's misfortune led to Joe's big break. Forgiving the pun, Joe stepped into the team as the centre half due to Preston's captain, Harry Mattinson, breaking his leg in an FA Cup tie. So, on the 3rd February 1951, Joe took over the No.5 shirt and kept a tight hold of it until Easter 1955, an amazing run of 191 league and cup games. It had been a courageous leap into the unknown for Joe and his wife, Edith, but the risk he had taken had paid off handsomely. Joe proved to be a great, solid, stubborn defender who took no prisoners. 

With Joe in the team, Preston won nine consecutive games and went on to win the second division championship. Back in the first division, Joe was to become a great PNE pivot, likened to past players such as Bill Tremelling, Tom Smith and Joe McCall. He was an ever present for the first three seasons back in the top flight of English football. Despite him being the first Australian to appear in a FA Cup Final at Wembley, in 1954, Joe's big honour was when he was chosen to represent The Football League versus The Scottish League, at Hampden Park, in March 1955. During his career in England Joe played in a very good Preston North End team who recorded some good victories in the early to mid-1950's. They included home wins such as 7-0 vs Barnsley, 4-0 vs Liverpool , 6-2 vs Manchester City, 5-2 vs Wolves, 6-0 vs Sheffield Wednesday (twice) and 7-1 vs Cardiff City. Good victories away were not uncommon too as 5-2 vs Middlesbrough, 5-2 vs Portsmouth, 5-1 vs Liverpool and 6-2 vs Tottenham will prove. Joe should feel proud of his football career in England. Preston North End supporters helped raise money for his fare back to Australia, with his family, for a holiday in 1953. Joe eventually chose to return to his home land for good after the 1954/1955 season, leaving with the best wishes of the Club, his colleagues and his fans.

Joe's football career was far from over as he returned to play with Leichhardt-Annandale, his former club in Sydney. He also became the captain of the Australian national team, then player-coach and finally coach of Australia. All in all he won 37 caps for his country. By 1965 he was concentrating on the coaching side of the game, going on to coach Sydney Olympic in 1978, the team which Tommy Docherty, Joe's team-mate at Preston, managed later on. Joe Marston is rightly considered a sporting legend in Australia and the 'man of the match' in the countries' A-League Final is awarded the 'Joe Marston Medal', as Joe was held in such high esteem down under.

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