In this post Graham Martin-Dye tells his own Penguin story and that of his father, John…
Born on 3rd January 1978 in Watford General Hospital to John and Delia Martin-Dye, I started swimming at Watford Swimming Club aged five, and I got into water polo aged seven or eight, watching my dad and older brother Steven.
I played for Watford seniors when I was about 12 and was soon scoring goals due to my fast swimming speed. I broke numerous club records and swam at county and southern county level.
When I was 15 I went with Watford to Malta for an annual tournament with teams from countries all over Europe. Penguin were there too and, because my Dad was a Penguin, the Penguin team treated me like one of their own, especially coach John “Shakey Lakey’!
A few year later, as my coach, Shakey would give me my first opportunity to play National League. He and Dad coached together and were great mates.
At the Malta tournament, I watched a player from Yugoslavia called Igor Milanovic. He was one of the best centre forwards in the world and he inspired me to get better and gave me the desire to play international polo. He was an amazing player and scored some amazing goals.
I joined Penguin in 1994 and played my first National League game away against Cheltenham. Ian Spooner played. He was absolutely amazing and a real hero of mine growing up.
I loved playing for Penguin and we went on a pre-season tour to Konstanz Germany, where I played with the likes of Paul Skerm, Jerome Read, Paul Whatley and Graham Forbes.
At 16 I was selected to play for Great Britain in the European Junior Water Polo Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was a fantastic experience and taught me so much about international water polo and the level you had to be at in order to compete with the best.
I made the England senior team at 18 and played in the home nations in Scotland, where our goal keeper David Bush got red flagged in the first quarter of the final against Scotland. Luckily, we went on to win!
I then had a break from the international game for four years to focus on my swimming career. I was training for Sydney Olympics 2000, but just missed out on selection.
In 2000 I returned to water polo and was selected for the England team that played in the 2002 Commonwealth water polo championships in Manchester, winning the bronze medal. I also played with Penguin in the team that won the British Water Polo Championships at Sheffield the same year.
In 2003 I left the UK to play water polo in Australia for the Balmain Tigers in the Australian National League from 2004 to 2010. We won bronze in 2004 and 2005.
All in all I had a great swimming and water polo career and I now live in Australia where I have a wonderful wife and three children. I also still try to enjoy some masters and Australian country water polo from time to time.
My father, John Martin-Dye was born on 21 May 1940 in Shepherds Bush where he grew up in Thornfield Road.
He joined Penguin when he was eight and remained a member of the Club throughout his life.
One of the stories Dad would tell about his early aquatics career is how, aged 15, he did a back flip from a diving board but was too close, hitting his chin on the board and knocking out his two front teeth!
Thankfully this didn’t affect his determination or passion for swimming and water polo.
Dad’s list of achievements in swimming is long and impressive, holding a place in the Great Britain team from 1960-1966 and a double Olympian. During this time:
- In the 1960 Rome Olympics he came 4th in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay team which set a new European record.
- At the 1961 ASA British National Championships he won the 110yd, 220yd and 440yds Freestyle
- At the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth he won bronze in the 4x200yds and 4x100yds Freestyle relays.
- He became the ASA British National Champion in 400yds Freestyle again in 1963.
- At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics he was 7th in the 4x100m Freestyle relay.
- In the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston Jamaica he won bronze in the 4x100m Freestyle relay.
Dad was also a first-rate water polo player. He was part of the Penguin National League team from late 50s, I think, to 1968 and he played for Great Britain.
Watch John in action for GB vs Spain in this 1965 British Pathe video: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/britain-beat-spain
In 1965, in the Penguin team alongside Shakey Lake and other Penguin greats, Dad won the British Championships in Walsall in a close-fought final beating Cheltenham 6-5. Dad scored five goals and Les Baldwin scored the other. Ron Turner was captain of the team.
Read the press report of their success.
This post is part of our Penguin100 series of stories from Penguins past and present, sharing what being a member of the Club means to them as we celebrate our Centenary.