Wednesday, 24 November 2010
200 Martin Hodge
Played : 1993-94
Appearances : 42
Goals : 0
So we're onto our 200th player and into the 1993-94 season, a memorable one for a number of reasons. Firstly we came tantalisingly close to the play-offs again being in 7th place on the penultimate Saturday. Secondly, it was the first of my pair of 100% seasons (incl pre-season friendlies) though I needed that second postponement of the Wycombe game to accomplish it. Thirdly it included the most remarkable Dale performance I've ever seen - the first half demolition of Chesterfield in October - at least until the current regime got going. And lastly it formed a backdrop to an unusually eventful year for me and so I've already written about it in a yet -to-be finished book.
Martin was signed on a free from Hartlepool to replace Kevin Rose. At 34 Martin was vastly experienced having started out at Plymouth in 1978 where he once had to wear his shirt inside out because ITV couldn't show its sponsored front, Brian Moore sending a runner down to the pitch to tell him. He was signed by Everton for £135,000 and had a decent run in the side in 1979-80 but was elbowed out by Neville Southall and went out on loan to Oldham, Gillingham and two lengthy spells at Preston. In 1983 he signed for Sheffield Wednesday and had 5 excellent seasons there playing a club-record 214 consecutive games and almost going to Mexico with England in 1986. A less welcome event that year was conceding a goal to his opposite number Steve Ogrizovic of Coventry direct from a goal kick. In 1988 he moved to Leicester for £250,000 and made 80 appearances (including another ever-present season) before joining Hartlepool in 1991. He played 69 games for them before joining us.
Martin was technically ever-present for us although he missed most of the first half in his first game at Darlington due to concussion, coming back on after half time following a decidedly creaky stint by Steve Whitehall. It's fair to say Martin was carrying a bit of timber by this time and actually got reported to the police by some nutty old woman at York for flashing his gut following taunts from the home end. Martin seemed to cultivate an image as the Grumpy Old Man of the side whether it was bollocking Mark Stuart for interrupting his warm-up routine at Scarborough or telling the EGP lads that they were over-rating Alan Reeves. The classic Hodgey moment was at Burnley in the FA Cup when it all kicked off following Alex Jones's revenge tackle on John Francis. At one point every player on the pitch seemed to be involved in the melee - except one. Martin was lying down in his six-yard box Cleopatra-style to express his complete disdain for such shenanigans. For all this he was still a pretty good keeper and only had one poor game at Chester where he allowed their bruising forward, a certain Graham Barrow, to intimidate him.
Characteristically Martin arranged his next move himself by buying a house in Plymouth in the summer of 1994 and presenting the management with a fait accompli. Sutton reluctantly accepted the situation and let him sign for Plymouth for £10,000. Given subsequent developments this can be seen as a pivotal moment in our recent history, sparking a chain of events which consigned us to the lower half of the table for the rest of the decade.
Martin was signed as cover and to coach the youth team but played another 17 games for Plymouth before retiring in 1996. He returned to Sheffield Wednesday (and presumably the North of England) as goalkeeping coach for 8 years and has performed that role for a number of other clubs since including, briefly, us under Steve Parkin, despite the manner of his original departure. He currently scouts for Watford.