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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
News
people
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world