Final farewell to Sudbury legend Keith

A MOVING service in memory of a millionaire businessman who enjoyed a successful career in football management was held in a packed church yesterday.

Will Clarke

A MOVING service in memory of a millionaire businessman who enjoyed a successful career in football management was held in a packed church yesterday.

Holy Trinity church in Long Melford was filled with figures from the world of non-league football and the building trade who came to remember Keith Martin, former manager of AFC Sudbury.

Among the tributes paid were readings and poems from family members who painted a picture of a loving and caring father and grandfather.

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Mr Martin died at home in Newton, near Sudbury, on September 1 aged 67 after a long illness.

His granddaughter Rosie said: “Even though you are gone it doesn't mean you are forgotten - I never wanted to lose you.

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“You were the strongest person I ever knew and I love you so much granddad.”

In her address to the congregation another granddaughter, Rebecca, described the many happy memories she had of a “cheerful and loving” grandfather.

“I can't believe he's gone,” she said. “It still feels as though he is by my side. Like him I am going to put 100% into everything I do to make him proud of me.”

Mr Martin's sister-in-law Carole spoke of the strong relationship between Mr Martin and his wife Jackie who she described as “his rock”.

In his tribute Rev Jamie Allen emphasised Mr Martin's achievements as a family man who often made sacrifices in his career for the sake of his family's welfare and security.

It was in Suffolk that Mr Martin focused on his main career as a builder, founding K Martin Sudbury Ltd.

Mr Allen paid tribute to Mr Martin's “true grit” in pursuing many business and sporting challenges despite persistent poor health including a life-long heart condition and diabetes in later life.

Born in Derbyshire in May 1941 Keith Martin's father was a coal miner who had to find alternative work following an industrial accident.

Following the accident the family travelled to find employment and Mr Martin was educated in Norfolk. Even then he showed early promise became head boy and an accomplished boxer.

But when only in his 20s he was diagnosed with a heart condition.

Unperturbed by the limiting condition he took up numerous jobs to make ends meet before deciding to focus on a career as a builder - teaching himself to lay bricks after work.

It was perhaps his tough upbringing that pushed Mr Martin to provide the secure home, which he was denied as a youngster, and it was this ambition that translated into great success.

In 1973 he founded his own company and in 1985 he was named builder of the year for his work on a development in Long Melford.

While maintaining his business interests Mr Martin became the manager of Sudbury Wanderers and was also the first AFC manager when the club merged with Sudbury Town in June 1999.

With AFC he won three major trophies and stood down after leading AFC to the FA Vase final at Upton Park in May 2003.

He went on to manage Wroxham and Heybridge Swifts before retiring from football in September 2005.

He leaves a widow, three sons, a daughter and 13 grandchildren.

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