Ex-Sudbury manager dies

TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the best-known men in non-league football after he died last night following a long illness.

Elvin King

TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the best-known men in non-league football after he died last night following a long illness.

Keith Martin was manager of Sudbury Wanderers before becoming the first AFC Sudbury manager in June 1999.

He started his footballing career with Highbury Barn, progressing to Cornard United, Halstead Town and Braintree Town.

With AFC Sudbury he won the Jewson League Championship in 2000/01 and 2001/02, the Suffolk Premier Cup in 2001/02 and reached the FA Vase semi-final the same season.

He led AFC Sudbury to the Vase final in May 2003 and was then involved with Wroxham, Heybridge Swifts and Halstead Town before leaving the football scene in September 2005.

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Lee, Mr Martin's son, said: “My father was always moved from house to house in his childhood so his biggest drive was to build and own his own house so no one would take that away from him.

“He was a remarkable man. His passion and drive made him successful in everything he tried including sport and business.

“He was rich but he was never flash, he liked people for who they were and he liked people who worked hard and achieved.

“You couldn't have wished for a better father and he is a big inspiration.”

His widow Jacqui said: “We spent 42 fantastic years together and we loved each other so much.”

Mr Martin was a successful businessman and his companies sponsored Ipswich Evening Star Witches speedway club for the last four years.

In the wake of his death, the Witches will hold a minute's silence before tomorrow's Elite League speedway meeting against Coventry at Foxhall Stadium.

As another mark of respect, the sponsor's Tim Woodward lounge will remain in darkness throughout the evening.

Witches rider/manager Chris Louis paid a tribute to Mr Martin today.

He said: “The news of Keith's death came as a shock and is very sad. Keith wanted to help our club, and it was not a commercial venture for him.

“He had experience of motorcycling sport and also of running football clubs. He therefore understood what goes on behind the scenes at Foxhall Stadium.

“Keith's life was a success because of the hard work he put in and we pass on our respects to his family. He has a smashing family and they come to Foxhall and support the Witches from the terraces every week.”

Mike Bacon, Green'Un publisher, also paid tribute this afternoon.

He said: “A non-league man through and through, Keith was a no-nonsense character, who I enjoyed dealing with many times over the years.

“I must admit when I first got involved in reporting on the local football scene, I was warned not to be “too smart” with Keith.

“He doesn't suffer fools gladly, was the general tone of my warning. But I need not have worried.

“Keith was always courteous, always happy to talk and always gave me the time of day, whatever result his team had endured.”

He added: “Keith wore his heart on his sleeve, and was a non-league man I greatly admired. I was not alone. He leaves many friends in the non-league game.”

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