Geoff Martin

We were saddened to hear of the passing of our former left-winger Geoff Martin, at the age of 81. 

New Tupton-born Geoff joined Chesterfield from Parkhouse Colliery in the summer of 1957, at the age of 17. He had been working as a pony driver down the pit, but leapt at the chance to realise a boyhood dream with his local club.

After a season in the youth team, he signed as a full professional on October 4, 1958 and, to his surprise, was promoted from the reserves to make his first-team debut at outside-left against Halifax Town on December 20 of that year. 

The side were struggling, having won only one of their previous 15 league matches, and players seemed to be randomly selected every game. Geoff kept his place for the Boxing Day match against Wrexham but suffered a fate common to young players trying to make their way in a struggling side, being dropped after just two appearances. He spent the rest of the season in the reserves and “A” Team. 1959/60 was worse for Geoff; he spent much of it in the “A” team and was given a free transfer in May 1960. 

Unexpectedly, perhaps, he was picked up by Leeds United, newly-relegated from Division One. Like Chesterfield, they were a club in crisis, with little money to rebuild and few assets to trade in; Geoff was one of a number of players recruited by the Peacocks for their promise. Geoff made his Leeds debut  in their Football League Cup match against his old club, Chesterfield; United won 4-0 but he didn’t feature in the plans of new manager Don Revie and was allowed to leave for Darlington in the summer of 1961.

Given regular first-team football, Geoff made more impact at Feetham’s. He played 20 league games and scored 6 goals before being transferred to Carlisle United, who, like Darlington, were pushing for promotion from the Fourth Division. The Cumbrians managed to keep hold of fourth place and go up, while the Darlington side that he left slipped from fifth at the time of his departure to finish in 15th place.

Geoff played only twice in the higher sphere for Carlisle before being transferred to Workington in December 1962. Cumbria’s other Football League team were on the cusp of their best spell in their history when Geoff made his debut for them at Saltergate, in a 1-1 draw. In the following season, 1963/64, Geoff played in all but one of Workington’s games and scored ten goals as the Reds finished in second place in Division 4.

Workington lasted three seasons in Division 3, but Geoff had moved on to Grimsby Town before they were relegated. The same fate befell the Mariners in 1967/68, and Geoff found himself looking for a new club.

Chesterfield manager Jim McGuigan signed only two outfield players in the summer of 1968 to strengthen a side that had begun the previous season well, but had fallen away after Christmas. One was Charlie Bell, and the other Geoff Martin. Jim knew what he was getting, as he was manager at Grimsby when they signed him from Workington. 

Geoff competed with Peter Bishop for the left-wing spot as 1968/69 turned into a season of struggle, but the position was finally his own in 1969/70, when the club challenged for promotion. Geoff played that season with a knee injury that required careful management, but a month before the team went to the top of the league for the first time, Geoff was forced to retire, at the age of 29. Geoff’s contribution to Chesterfield’s 1969/70 season was recognised with the award of a Fourth Division championship medal.

Geoff took up employment at Clay Cross Works and managed their football team. He was working for the National Coal Board at the Wingerworth Carbonisation Plant when ill-health forced early retirement in 1990. He played 45 league games for Chesterfield, scoring four goals, in a career that saw him play 295 league matches and find the net 41 times.

We send our sincere condolences to Geoff’s family and friends.