Dean Martin is a lad that we remember rather fondly; a tenacious midfielder brought in by Dickie Hill in 1999 and played two seasons for us. Well – two-ish. That’s because his time with us was usually limited to the second half of a season. Each year, he’d be heading up north to Iceland; commitments to a team he played for there. It’s no different to when Dino Maamria went Stateside to play for Charleston Battery in the mid-2000s.
Or was it to dance the Charleston better-ly. Or to charge a battery maybe. Who knows?
Back then, you couldn’t get through a Fans Forum with Phil Wallace or log on to whatever came before Borochat without someone asking: “When is Dean Martin coming back?”. It’s still the question that yanks at the heartstrings even now. Mind you, we ain’t sure he could still do a job for us. We’d describe him as a diamond in the sort-of rough that was our post-Paul Fairclough era. That’s the first time around, however. And that’s two decades ago!
Dean Martin: Why Is He A Cult Classic?
So, as we mention, the lad came to us after someone familiar to him (Richard Hill) thought him to be the missing piece in our puzzle. He signed for us like it was 1999. And it was, as it was December that year. In the second half of the 1999-00 campaign, Deano turned out more than 20 times; making an immediate impact with a goal on debut as a sub in our 2-1 defeat at Donny.
More memorable for us, however, is the goal he scored on the final day of term at home to Southport. It’s memorable (to us) for a reason you’ll either not get or think is just tragic. But our Ed was a fan of Soccer AM at the time; Deano marking his third goal of the season by whipping off his shirt to imitate the programme’s Wengerboys gag. It made our Ed laugh – but then he always did have a weird sense of humour. Soccer AM? Come on.
Boro’ got more out of the midfielder during the 2000-1 season – and for longer. Returning to the fold in late September, a new gaffer was at the helm. But Dean Martin was still that man for the job. Hill had gone before the end of the previous season. Steve Wignall came in and left before the summer too. But it didn’t stop Cloughie Mk II drafting Deano back in; coaxing 30-odd appearances out of him. There were four more goals in the mix too.
The first of those goals came on his second home debut, if you will; one of five in a lively match against Telford United. Always the man for the occasion, don’t you think? After yet another home goal against Southport in what was our last match indoors that season, he appeared for us just one more time. Our 1-1 draw at Dover Athletic on the last day ended up being his final Boro’ appearance. He returned to Iceland that summer permanently.
There were no vigils outside Broadhall Way. But, when it became known he wasn’t going to come back, the sorrow that we felt was real. You might not say the say – but that’s your call. Time is a great healer, however. And we’re happy to report we’re OK with it now.
Dean Martin: Epilogue
You can find out more about the work that Martin did with the next generation of Icelandic talent from the West Ham United site. Or the advice he gave to Roy Keane about living in Iceland. Though it has to be said that we didn’t think Keano was the sort of lad who’d take advice from anyone. And yet there’s few qualified to share their wisdom than Dean Martin.