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The late Con Martin


John
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The obituaries pages in “The Times” today alerted me to the sad news that former Villa and Ireland star Con Martin had passed away on February 24th aged 89.

Con was the original “utility” player joining us from second division Leeds for £10,000 in 1948 as one of four players signed by then manager Alex Massie for a total outlay of £50,000 in what proved a successful attempt to avoid the drop which we did finishing 10th that season.

Cornelius Joseph Martin was born in Rush, Co Dublin on 20/3/23 and began his time at Villa Park as a left back continuing in that and his preferred centre half position until the first day of season 1951-52 when first choice keeper Joe Rutherford suffered an injury at Bolton and Con played the rest of that game in goal as he did the next 26 games of that season which we finished in sixth position. Con said later “I didn’t mind where I played I could handle the ball because of Gaelic Football”. Con had appeared for Dublin at representative level and featured in a Leinster championship victory in 1941 eventually receiving his championship medal in 1971 when the Gaelic Athletic Association’s ban on “foreign sports” was lifted (he was also playing football for Drumcondra at the time). Having moved from Drumcondra to Glentoran he was then offered a move to Manchester United as a keeper but turned that down to sign for Leeds in December 1946 as an outfield player for the same fee that he joined us for.

Con made international appearances for both Northern Ireland (6) and Eire (30) at a time when it was possible to be selected for both. He made his debut for Northern Ireland against Scotland in November 1946 and for Eire against Portugal in June of the same year when he took over from injured keeper Ned Courtney and then went on to start as keeper in a win against Spain in Madrid in which he kept a clean sheet in his yellow shirt earning the nickname “the yellow canary” from the Spanish press. In September 1949 he also scored the first goal from the penalty spot in a 2–0 win for Eire at Goodison Park which made that Irish side rather than Hungary 4 years later the first overseas team to beat England on English soil. He played his last game for Northern Ireland in 1950 against Wales in a game that was part of the Home International Championship and that doubled as a World Cup qualifier which meant that Con had played for two countries in the same tournament which FIFA then ruled could never happen again. His international career ended in 1956 and he scored 6 goals for Eire including two against Finland when playing as a centre forward.

Con made 213 appearances for Aston Villa before he moved on to Waterford in 1956 and scored one goal a penalty and the second of our 4 goals in a 4-1 away win at Charlton on 7/4/50. After leaving Waterford Con went on to manage Dundalk and Shelbourne and was assistant manager at Cork Hibernians. He is survived by his wife, Vera and by his 3 daughters and 4 sons one of which (Mick) won 51 caps for Ireland and he has a grandson (Owen Garvan) who plays for Crystal Palace. Some player and some life! My thoughts are with his family.

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yeah was a bit on radio from Johnny Giles about Con Martin and was nothing but glowing praise saying he would have won 100s of caps if he played this day and age. He actually played in the historical 1st ever England home defeat to a non UK nation

 

was so famous he was actually mentioned a local song about Dublin called The Mero

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R.i.p Con

 

My Father who was from Dublin was a big fan of Con's, a bit before my time though.

 

Villa Legend was my understanding.

 

sad news

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