Final curtain: John Martin's last senior game: Cowdenbeath 1 Alloa 2, 25 August 2001

WITH this week the 25th anniversary of the start of the 1984/85 miners' strike it is worth a look at the Scottish footballer most synonymous with that tumultuous time – John Martin.

The goalkeeper from Prestonpans enjoyed an epic 21-year career, 19 of them with Airdrie, and for the majority of it he was mercilessly taunted by away supporters for his decision to cross the picket line and return to work during the strike, while also picking up a part-time wage from the Broomfield club.

Martin was every inch the 'madcap' goalkeeper, with his trademark swinging from the crossbar, and would respond to the crowd's taunts by blowing kisses at them. He joined Airdrie in 1980 and was a major figure in Alex MacDonald's sides of the 1990s that reached the Premier Division and built a reputation as being one of the most physical and awkward teams in the country. The pinnacle of Martin's career was Airdrie's two Scottish Cup finals in 1992 and 1995, when they lost 2-1 and 1-0 to Rangers and Celtic respectively. Martin appeared in a third Scottish Cup final, although of the fictional variety. He played the keeper of Kilnockie FC in Robert Duvall's Scottish football turkey A Shot At Glory.

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Martin first retired at the end of the 1998/99 season. After a stint with his local side, Preston Athletic, he responded to a call from Cowdenbeath manager Craig Levein and played in the Blue Brazil's promotion-winning season in 2000-01, when a place in the Second Division was clinched in a dramatic last-day 2-1 win over Brechin in front of 3,000 fans at Central Park. Levein left to take over at Hearts, but Martin stayed on to play the first few games of the 2001-02 season, the last of which was a home defeat to Alloa, before making way, at the age of 43, to a youngster by the name of Craig Gordon, who had been loaned from Tynecastle by Levein.

Martin was the epitome of a Scottish football 'character' and is remembered as a bit of a 'clown prince', but he always took his football seriously and said in a 2001 interview: "I hate losing, even at Monopoly. I don't know if that goes back to my mining days, but it is about how I was brought up. I don't care who I'm playing, I always want to win, even if that means cheating – but only at Monopoly. I don't like people who cheat at football."