Fred Martin: Scotland’s 1954 World Cup ’keeper

 

When a lanky teenager from Carnoustie joined Aberdeen as an inside-forward in 1946, there could not have been the merest ghost of a notion that he would go on to become the Dons’ formidably athletic last line of defence as they were crowned League champions for the first time in their history nine years later.

But so it was with Fred Martin, who by the time he had pocketed his title medal after the Pittodrie side had finished two points ahead of Celtic in the spring of 1955, was also the first Scottish goalkeeper to appear in a World Cup finals tournament, in Switzerland in 1954.

Though his international experience would prove occasionally traumatic, Martin made nearly 300 senior appearances for Aberdeen and collected six caps in a career which spanned the entire 1950s, and surely would have continued into the next decade but for cruel luck with injuries.

Soon after joining the Dons from his local junior team, Carnoustie Panmure, as a promising attacker, Martin was called up for National Service and threw himself into Army football with relish. Then one day when the Woolwich Royal Artillery were short of a goalkeeper, the young Scot took over and was found to be a natural in the position.

After keeping goal for the British Army against France and Belgium in 1948, he returned to Pittodrie, where he impressed manager Dave Halliday so mightily that he was given his senior debut against East Fife at Bayview in April 1950. Aberdeen lost 3-1 but Martin proved efficient and he became first choice in a side destined for glory. Agile and courageous, he could perform spectacularly at need, but his method was based on a shrewd reading of the action which enabled him frequently to frustrate opponents through intelligent positioning.

After representing the Scottish League in 1952, then earning the first of six full caps in a 1-0 win over Norway in a Hampden Park friendly in May 1954, the rangily imposing Martin was handed the ’keeper’s jersey for the World Cup opener against Austria in Basle. They lost 1-0, manager Andy Beattie so disillusioned that after the match he announced his intention to resign. With the players’ morale unsurprisingly low they were annihilated 7-0 in their second game by reigning champions Uruguay.

Not for the last time in global competition, Scotland trailed home disconsolately, and Martin, whose personal display had not been calamitous, was dropped. However, that December he was recalled for a Hampden encounter with the scintillating Hungarians, which was lost 4-2, and he kept his place for the Wembley clash with England in the following April. Scotland were hammered 7-2 and Martin, who had conceded 18 goals in three matches, was axed again, this time with no reprieve, his place going to Hibernian’s Tommy Younger.

At club level he fared much better. The highlight was the 1954-55 title win, during which he let in only 25 goals in his 27 outings and proved a redoubtable bulwark in a splendid all-round side in which young right-winger Graham Leggat sparkled and the half-back line of Jack Allister, Alec Young and Archie Glen performed with inspirational authority.

Martin excelled again as the Dons lifted the League Cup in 1955-56, defeating St Mirren 2-1 in the Hampden showdown, though there were also disappointments, notably three Scottish Cup final defeats, to Rangers in 1953, Celtic in 1954 and St Mirren in 1959.

After seven seasons as a regular, from 1957 Martin struggled with serial injuries and played his last game, still only 30, in January 1960. Later he worked as a sales manager for Dewar’s Whisky and in 2007 he was one of the inaugural inductees into Aberdeen’s Hall of Fame.

Fred Martin, footballer: born Carnoustie 13 May 1929; played for Aberdeen 1946-60; capped six times by Scotland 1954-55; married Margaret (two daughters, three sons); died Methven, Perth  20 August 2013.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Development Manager (District Heating)

£55000 Per Annum plus company car and bonus scheme: The Green Recruitment Comp...

Lead Hand - QC

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Hand - QCProgressive are recruiting...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn