Dunfermline Athletic

Bent Martin

Scottish Cup Final v Hearts 1968
Bent Martin cuts out a cross in the 1968 Scottish Cup Final

The influx of foreign players into Scottish Football has grown to become a well debated reason for the demise of our game at international level.  This is not a new phenomenon however for in the 60's several Scottish Clubs including Dunfermline signed foreign nationals.  In those days most of the players were from the Scandinavian countries and it was from Denmark that the Pars first continental came.

Bent Martin came to East End Park in 1966 but his first Scottish club was Celtic.  Jock Stein signed him from Aarhus in November 1965 after the Parkhead side had played the Danish side in the second round of the 1965/66 European Cup Winners Cup Competition..  Celtic won 3-2 over the two leg tie but with Bent performing so well in the matches several British clubs sought his services but it was Jock who convinced him that his immediate future lay in Scotland.

Bent's first team appearances for Celtic were restricted to no more than a handful by the consistent performances of their first choice keeper, Ronnie Simpson and when Dunfermline were forced to look for a replacement following an injury to Eric Martin it was to Bent that they turned.  Willie Cunningham signed him on 23rd December 1966 for a fee of £3500 and he made his debut for the Pars against Falkirk at Brockville on the last day of 1966.  It was not a happy debut as his side lost 1-0.

Bent soon settled in and such was his form that Eric Martin could not win his place back in the team.  The Pars defence had leaked so few goals six in nine matches in contrast to the 15 in the previous five before the change of keeper.  Indeed on 15th March 1967Eric was transferred to Southampton for £25,000.  This was the third keeper in succession who had moved south for not an inconsiderable fee, the others being Eddie Connachan (who of course had defied Celtic in the Scottish Cup Final) and Jim Herriot.  These players had been successfully replaced at a fraction of the fees received.

Bent's approach to training was something unusual.  He didn't spend a lot of time in goal in training, Bent said "I preferred playing at inside forward in practice matches.  That way I learnt more about what an opposing forward was likely to do when he had the ball at his feet and the goal in his sights.  I also liked to play centre half.  That helped me in my judgement when I came out for a crossball.

There was a change of manager for Dunfermline during the summer of 1967 when Willie Cunningham resigned and George Farm replaced him.  The Athletic continued to enjoy considerable success both at home and on the Continent with Bent playing his part.  However it was not a happy period off the park for the Dane.  George Farm, himself a former Scottish international goalie, was particularly critical on occasions of the goalkeeping spot.  Such opinions upset Bent Martin more than once especially when expressed forcibly in the press.

Bent was a member of the Pars side that won the 1968 Scottish Cup in 1968 and he probably looks back on the very first match of that Cup run as the most memorable.  Dunfermline went to Parkhead to play Celtic in the Second Round and were given little chance against the reigning European club champions. However the Pars got through by two goals to nil and the rest is history.

The following season - 1968/69 Bent played a part in Dunfermline's run to the Semi Final of the European Cup Winners Cup Tournament.  In total Bent made sixteen competitive European appearances fort the Pars. In November 1969, only a  week after Dunfermline defeated Gwardia Warsaw in the Fairs Cup but then lost at Easter Road, Bent was dropped along with several other players for the next league match.  This was the final straw for the Dane and after indicating a desire for a transfer he was handed a free transfer.  Bent went on to pursue his footballing career in Austria before returning to his homeland where he resumed his career in banking.

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