SINCE taking in his first game in 1955, Martin Robinson has been a life long Southport FC fan and is now the vice-president of the Supporters Trust, writes Charlotte Henbest.
Moving to Rastrick in 1973, retired Ryburn High School senior master Martin makes the trip to see his beloved Sandgrounders home and away each week and only missed the one game last season.
Such is his passion, that his wife Jean has followed up her love for “The King”, Elvis Presley, with four trips to Gracelands as well as running the website www.ultimate-elvis.net with three other friends. It was her last trip this month to America that inspired Martin to organise his own trip to the Baltic states to take in a few games.
“I went out again this time as my friend in London, went to witness the wedding at Gracelands of our other site founder, who is from Phillidelphia,” revealed Jean.
“We have exhausted the trip a bit now but at least it gave Martin the chance this year to go somewhere I don’t really fancy for my holidays.”
Martin’s involvement with the Supporters Trust saw him support his friend Colin Aindow’s run from Southport to Grimsby for the last Blue Square Premier match of the season in aid of the trust and Heroes.
“Colin set off on the Wednesday and arrived at the ground in time for the game on Saturday, whilst calling in on 15 League and non-league different grounds along the way,” informed Martin.
“I joined alongside him in the car on the Thursday and Friday, and I have to say a big thank you to Doncaster Rovers. Colin was suffering a bit on the Friday, and when we arrived at the ground the staff were fantastic and the physio worked wonders on him. His efforts raised a massive £2,500.”
Martin and Jean have been lucky to go to some far off places and hubby has managed to take in a football game or two on their travels to Canada, America, New Zealand and Australia.
“Besides going to all of Southport’s matches, I also try and visit as many different football grounds as possible and always go to matches when we go away on holiday. So when Jean said she was going away for a week to Memphis, I looked to see where I could go and what better than three countries I haven’t been to before and football matches in each of them.
“I flew out from Leeds/Bradford on Wednesday May 9 to Riga, Latvia, and flew back the following Sunday evening.
“I hired a car and after spending a couple of days in Riga (including a ‘bonus’ second division match on the Wednesday evening Jelgava II 0 Liepajas Metalurgs II 1) I drove to Vilnius, Lithuania, on the Friday, back up to Viljandi, Estonia, on the Saturday and back to Gulbene, Latvia, on the Sunday and then to Riga for the flight home.
“Football in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is a summer sport from March to October. It is not as important as over here and has to compete with Ice Hockey and Basketball.
“In fact many of their teams are part of clubs who run teams in these other sports as well. There are often athletics tracks round the pitches.
“Everyone I met at the matches were very helpful and friendly, and many people speak English to varying degrees. In fact I had a fantastic five days and have now taken the countries I have seen matches in to 20.”
Martin’s first game was FK Reo, (Vilnius) v FK Banga, (Gargždai) with the host winning 1-0 with only 300 spectators and no admission charge. Then it was on to Viljandi, Estonia for Viljandi v Narva Trans, with Narva Trans the 1-0 victors and the end of the game it was off for a nice warm meal and some Estonian Vodka as part of one of the courses.
On the last day of Martin’s visit it was FB Gulbene v FS Metta/LU in Latvia, which was a bit of a goal fest with Gulbene winning 5-1.
Martin and Jean have no trips planned for the future just yet, although he says Jean is eyeing up Italy, Rome in particular, for later in the year.
“Hopefully, if we go I will get to take in a game and if it is an impressive stadium I might just be able to convince Jean to come with me.”