Steelmen Forever: John Martis


A number of former Motherwell players have joined the Well Society in recent years and helped their fellow fans assume control of the club and keep it in the community.

In the latest part of our Steelmen Forever series, we focus on one of those players – one of the greatest centre-halves every to have graced the claret and amber.

John Martis joined Motherwell, his local team, in 1957 from Larkhall Junior side Royal Albert.john-martis

Almost 60 years later he has become one of the club’s many co-owners.

Martis made his debut as a 17-year-old, coming in for Andy Paton for a New Year’s game against Hibs in 1958 and going up against Joe Baker, latterly of Torino, Arsenal and England.

At the end of the season he was judged to be ready to step into the boots of Paton full-time. With the man who went on to be voted Motherwell’s greatest ever player moving to Hamilton on a free transfer, Martis became a regular fixture as the great Ancell Babes side announced themselves on Scottish football.

The powerful and committed defender helped Motherwell beat Rangers four times in the 1959/60 season and returned to Ibrox along with three of his Fir Park team-mates later in the campaign to play for Scotland Under-23s in a 4-4 draw with their England counterparts. St John scored twice while Jimmy Greaves grabbed a hat-trick for the visitors.

Later in 1960 he won his one and only full Scotland cap against Wales with Motherwell team-mate Willie Hunter, another Well Society member, joining him in the line-up.

When asked about his favourite memory of being a Motherwell player, he said: “Every game running out on the park.”

John added: “The game that sticks in my mind was the 5-2 victory at Ibrox. We were known as an attacking team. At that time everybody was attacking, all the teams played that way, but we just attacked all the time. Everything was good fun.”

john-martis2All in all he made more than 300 appearances for Motherwell in 12 years and won the Supporters’ Association player of the year award in both 1966 and 1967 before leaving for a short spell playing in South Africa. He returned to Scotland to move to East Fife, where he would later become manager after more than 200 appearances for the Methil club.

John resumed his official connections with the club as a key member of the Former Players’ Club, which was founded in 1988.

And, as president, he played an integral role in 10 of the former players signing up on mass for the Well Society.

“That’s what we are here for- to help the club,” he said.