A footballing pioneer is how Preston North End legend Joe Marston will forever be remembered.
The former Australia international passed away on Sunday morning in his native country at the age of 89.
Marston will always be known as the first Aussie ever to play in a FA Cup final in 1954.
On that occasion he was part of the North End team, including Sir Tom Finney and Tommy Docherty, which were beaten 3-2 by West Bromwich Albion at Wembley.
A strong and imposing defender, Marston arrived at Deepdale in 1950 after making a name for himself with home-town club Leichhardt-Annandale, in New South Wales.
Interestingly, if history had taken a different course, Marston could have ended up playing for PNE’s arch-rivals Blackpool instead.
Spotted playing for Australia by scout Percy Sewell – who had connections to clubs in the North West of England – Marston was offered to Blackpool first.
The Tangerines were on the lookout for attackers rather than defenders and passed up on the opportunity of signing Marston.
However, Preston gave the the young Aussie a chance and the rest, as they say, is history.
Marston went on to become a firm fans’ favourite at Deepdale and became an integral member of one of North End’s greatest ever teams in the early to mid-1950s.
From February 1951 through to April 1955, he played 191 consecutive games in the No.5 shirt.
In the 1950/51 season, North End were Second Division champions, then in 1952/53 they were pipped by Arsenal on goal average to the First Division title.
Marston returned to Australia in 1955 and re-signed for his old Leichhardt.
In total, he represented the Socceroos on 37 occasions and eventually went on to manage his country.
He is so revered in his homeland that every year the Joe Marston Medal is awarded to the man of the match in Australia’s A-League grand final.
Former Preston striker Michael Conroy, who emigrated Down Under more than a decade ago, said Marston’s name was synonymous with football in Australia.
“Obviously I had heard of Joe and knew that he used to play for Preston,” Conroy said.
“They held a minute’s applause for him before all the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League matches on Sunday. He was a legend of the game.”