Mark Bishop inspired by tribute to his dear Dad
IF the photograph printed with this story speaks one word about the Ipswich Jets as a club it is 'family'.
QT photographer Rob Williams took an image of Jets' BRL coach Mark Bishop (full photo embedded below) and his young son Max arm-in-arm with all the players from the BRL and Cup sides on Saturday at North Ipswich Reserve as they remembered John Bishop with a minute's silence.
John, the father of Mark and grandfather of Max, sadly passed away last week.
It was a tough week for the coach and his family but the BRL boys rallied for their mentor to beat Valleys 32-30 and keep their finals hopes alive.
Mark said he was moved by the post-game gesture.
"Our family was really touched by that," Mark said.
"It is a footy club but they look after everyone first. The main thing is about making sure everybody is OK and we play footy off the back of that. I couldn't be more grateful to them.
"It is people first, footy second. That is why we are such a great club. When things aren't looking good we are always positive."
John Bishop was a well known Ipswich man with a great connection to the region.
"He worked at Brothers Leagues Club as a barman and a cleaner for 20-odd years," Mark said.
"Before that he worked at the cut price stores at Leichhardt and North Ipswich. He also worked at McMahon's softdrinks for around 10 years and was the route manager for home deliveries. He was a well known face."
Mark said it was a difficult week but the support from the Jets on game day was a tower of strength to him.
"Saturday was real tough because I had my little fella Max there. It is his granddad too, so it was tough for both of us," he said.
"But it was good to have the support there. We have the funeral (Thursday) and get into the footy again on Saturday.
"Everyone knows the situation... and at least when the hooter goes again you can knuckle down again and have something else to think about."
Mark's son Max is the ball boy for the Ipswich Jets and much loved by all. Max is a brave young lad himself.
"He had a liver transplant in November last year so he can't play footy any more, and he was a real nut for it," Mark said.
"Because of the transplant he can't play contact sport but he still hooks in and is the official Shane and Ben Walker-christened 'chip and chase coach' at the Jets. He was a halfback and the last try he scored in his last game was from a chip and chase right in front of Shane Walker.
"There is a great photo of it, and if you go back through the archives there is a photo of Shane with his arms in the air cheering him on. If there had been a video referee he might have been in a bit of trouble but they let it go, and he scored the try."
Jets chairman Steve Johnson said he was moved to tears when he saw the extraordinary photo of the players expressing support, as John Bishop was well known to the players and club and attended games.
"If one Jet bleeds, we all bleed," Johnson said.
"Bisho' put that wonderful photo by Rob Williams up on Facebook and said 'and people ask me why I love the Jets'.
"We had a minute's silence in a meaningful way because we are a club.
"Our players stood as one with Bisho' and young Max. Young Max has lost his granddad and been around the club since he was born. We wanted to let them know that we truly care."
Johnson said Mark had been a magnificent asset to the club.
"He has a wonderful football brain and he coached our Colts before coming up to coach the BRL side where he has enjoyed being able to coach what we call 'Jets footy' with the Walkers.
"When you are with the Colts you don't have the freedom to coach that style. To coach the BRL side is a difficult task because week to week you have a different side so you need 30-odd guys who understand how to play with the same Jets spirit and flair. It takes a special and laid back person like Mark to coach that team."
*John Bishop's funeral will be held Thursday at St Mary's Church in Ipswich.