Belfast Celtic 1891 - 1949

Dave "Boy" Martin


Davy Martin spent his childhood in an orphanage before joining the Royal Ulster Rifles as a drummer boy - the nickname “Boy” then stuck with him for the rest of his life. It was while serving in the British army that he took a shine to sport as a champion prize fighter and a skilful goalscoring centre-forward on the football field.

Eventually he bought his way out of the army for £5 to sign amateur forms with Cliftonville before turning professional with Belfast Celtic. With Celtic Martin hit the ground running, firing home 36 times as the Gibson Cup arrived at Paradise in 1933. He was still a teenager as he racked representative honours at inter-league, amateur international and full international level.


Indeed the Scots must surely have grown sick of the sight of Martin as he marked his Ireland debut with a brace in a 2-1 win at Parkhead and two weeks later, his first Irish League appearance with another two in a 3-0 win over the Scottish League at Windsor Park. To add insult to injury, his only other international goal came in another win over the Scots.

With all the plaudits came the inevitable move “across the water” as Wolves forked out £7,500 on Martin and Johnny Brown (approximately two-thirds of which was attributed to Martin). An all-action striker, noted for his quickness of feet and thought, and most importantly, his red-hot finishing. He hit superb form with Wolves before he was surprisingly allowed to move on to Division Two Nottingham Forest for a then club-record fee of £7,000. Again with Forest Martin proved a more than reliable goal-getter, claiming another club-record with 31 goals in his first campaign. Thereafter his temperament brought him to loggerheads with referees and his manager and after just seven games in the opening months of his second season he moved across the Trent to Notts County.

In just a year of Division Three (South) football with the Magpies Martin again proved his goalscoring prowess. On the outbreak of World War Two Martin rejoined the army. During the war-years he guested with a number of clubs, both in England and Ireland, but was badly wounded in the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Thankfully he fully recovered and guested for Derry City before returning briefly to Notts County. He then finished his playing career with spells at Ballymoney United and Ballymena United then coached Ballymena and Carrick Rangers.


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