The legacy of Johnny Mannah, the Sharks and Eels player who passed away aged just 23, lives on each year when the two clubs he represented play for a trophy named in his honour.
The Johnny Mannah Cup is keenly contested at their first meeting each year, with the Mannah family on hand to present the winning captain with the special piece of silverware.
In their final team get together before the big game on Saturday night, coach Craig Fitzgibbon referenced Johnny, Wade Graham who was a teammate back in the day spoke glowingly of his abilities and character, with both emphasising the significance of the game and the trophy the Sharks and Eels will play for.
Mannah died of Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2013 after a long battle with the disease.
Then in strengthening their ties in 2022, an initiative driven by Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta and backed by Parramatta, saw the Clubs come together once more in the name of Johnny Mannah, a favourite son of both, in support of Lymphoma Australia.
On Thursday the Johnny Mannah Walk 4 Lymphoma saw more than 30 former players, club officials, nurses, doctors and representatives of Lymphoma Australia assemble at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta before going on a trek to PointsBet Stadium in the Shire in raising awareness and much needed funds to fight the disease.
Mezzatesta was joined by Eels CEO Jim Sarantinos, Johnny’s brother Tim, and the likes of Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Ben Ross, Brett Kimmorley, Adam Dykes, Jonathan Docking, Nick Youngquest, Jeremy Latimore, James Graham, Kaysa Pritchard and Mitch Allgood, amongst others, for the grueling 35km walk.
Lymphoma is the number one cancer in the 15-29 age group and the third most common in children.
Funds raised from the walk will enable Lymphoma Australia to fund the first ever lymphoma nurse dedicated to supporting young people.
Contributing sponsors for the walk included Sharks partners PointsBet, Powerade and Body Science, Eels sponsors CommBank, McDonalds and Gatorade, Classic Sportswear provided the event t-shirts and Tynan Motors the support vehicles. The Bulldogs also generously put on lunch at their home base of Belmore Sports Ground at roughly the halfway point between Parramatta and PointsBet, with fruit along the way supplied by Cronulla Gourmet Grocer.
Lymphoma Australia has been overwhelmed by the support, with almost $50,000 raised as of late Friday however it isn’t too late to contribute and make a donation.
CLICK HERE to go to the donation page, with proceeds going to help fund a Lymphoma nurse.
Donations can be made up until kick off of the Sharks v Eels game on Saturday night, with Mezzatesta to then present a cheque with the total proceeds to Lymphoma Australia at half time of the match on Saturday.
See the Sharks video presentation from the day, featuring some of the highlights from the Johnny Mannah Walk 4 Lymphoma.