Aberdeen and Scotland goalkeeper;
Born May 13, 1929; Died August 20, 2013.
FRED Martin, who has died at his home in Perthshire at the age of 84, was one of Scotland's finest goalkeepers, who, as well as becoming a legend at Aberdeen FC, was chosen as Scotland's first World Cup goalkeeper when the nation decided to join the competition in 1954.
Yet Martin is also remembered for an extraordinary story concerning his early career. Having played for his local junior team, Carnoustie Panmure, he was signed by Aberdeen in 1946 - as a dashing inside forward, distinguished by his height and strength and fine ball control.
Called up for his National Service in 1947, he was soon playing for the British Army team in the south of England.
So imagine the surprise of Aberdeen manager David Halliday when he received a telegram one day from his counterpart at Crystal Palace, saying: "Request permission to play goalkeeper Martin, who is on your books".
Clearly a mistake; so back went the reply: "Sorry we have no goalkeeper called Martin." But there was no mistake, as the story unfolded. When the British Army goalkeeper was injured one day, Martin was asked to take over in goal and played with such distinction that he retained the position - and was spotted by Crystal Palace.
When he returned to Aberdeen after National Service, he was called in by manager Halliday, who said: "Well Fred, what are you going to do? Are you going to be a forward or a goalkeeper?"
Given the choice, Martin said: "When I went into goal that day I sensed I had a certain aptitude for this part of the game."
So he chose to stay there. It was a transformation which took him to the top of the profession. When Scotland finally joined the World Cup in 1954, Martin was the first-choice goalkeeper. Despite a shambles of organisation by the Scottish Football Association, the team did manage to win through the qualifying stages but when they reached the World Cup proper they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of world champions Uruguay.
Martin had to pick the ball out of the back of the net seven times. He did play for Scotland thereafter but the experience did his international career no good.
The highlight of that career came in 1955 when Aberdeen won the Scottish League Championship for the first time, after 52 years in existence. When the title was clinched in a match with Clyde in Glasgow, there was such celebration Martin spent the train journey back Aberdeen asleep in the rack above.
Having been beaten in the Scottish Cup Final by Rangers in 1953, Aberdeen sought revenge the following year when they were due to meet the Ibrox team in the semi-final. They could not have imagined how sweet that revenge would be. Martin kept a clean sheet in goal while his team-mates scored an unthinkable six goals at the other end.
Sadly, his career came prematurely to an end in a match with Dundee when he received a serious facial injury. He was just 31, when there should have been many more years.
He joined the Aberdeen whisky company of John Bell, later moving to Dewar's of Perth, where he reached a senior executive position. But he retained an active interest in sport, particularly golf and curling, and maintained his interest in Aberdeen Football Club.
He fell victim to prostate cancer and died at his home in Methven, near Perth, on Tuesday evening. He is survived by his wife Margaret, three sons and two daughters, who inherited their father's passion for sport.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.