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Remembering Martin Gittings - Obituary

21 April 2022

Record goal scorer, not far away from a record number of appearances and a player who had four stints with Boro – writes former ‘The Comet’ editor Darren Istead…

For a Club that is little more than 46 years old, we have had a fair few star names to wear the red and white - but in truth there has only ever been one legend.

And Martin Gittings is that person.

For a certain ageing generation like mine who were there fresh faced to watch Boro in the United Counties League, Martin Gittings vied with Danny Dance for our affections as the player we all wanted to be.

That Danny never made more of the remarkable talents he had is the subject of another debate. But there can be no discussing that Martin went on to bestride the Club in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, dominating Stevenage Borough as we rose through the ranks of non-league and took the inexorable steps toward first the Conference, and then of course to the Football League.

For those who jumped with joy at Kidderminster when the full-time whistle signalled that historic 2-0 win, they could make no mistake that it was a triumph with foundations built decades ago.

Many clubs have struggled to emerge from the shadows in the lower reaches of the non-league world. Teams can spend decades in the same leagues or same divisions and that could have been Boro’s benign fate. One of the reasons why we have already had more than a decade of life in the Football League was our turbo-charged rise in the early nineties.

Paul Fairclough was the manager, but Martin Gittings and his goals were the catalyst which dragged this Club to greater success. 

The sickening sadness of the news that Martin has passed away is not just nostalgia at his footballing prowess and eye for goal. Martin was a truly lovely person to know. He always had time for this pestering reporter and was always happy to recount the ‘old’ days when occasion called to looked back on happier times.

It is fitting that one of my most abiding memories of Martin was some six years ago, accidentally bumping into him at half-time at the Boro and spending the second half of a game sat next to him. 

We giggled like schoolboys, failed to watch what was in front of us, and waxed lyrical about the old days while also confirming just how many Martin would have scored that day in League Two.

And that was the gift which Martin has left this club, he made football both exciting to watch but also fun.

He played a tough game, but he did it with a smile on his face and it is that smile we should all wear today as we remember Martin and everything he gave this club.

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