The Where Are They Now series takes a look at the career of Martin Barlow.
MARTIN BARLOW – Born 25th June 1971 Barnstaple, N.Devon.
Martin, also known as Chopsy, was born in Barnstaple but moved to Plymouth when he was two years old.
He started playing football with Prince Rock and was also selected to play for Devon Schoolboys.
He was invited to join the Argyle Centre of Excellence, later signing as an apprentice. He signed professional forms for the club in 1989. He was given his first team debut aged only seventeen by Argyle manager Ken Brown in the last home game of the 1988-89 season against Oxford, the game ending a 3-1 home win with Adrian Burrows, Sean McCarthy and Mark Stuart scoring the goals.
The following season he again only made one appearance, it wasn’t until David Kemp took over as manager that he started to get more first team appearances.
In 1990-91 he made 34 appearances and scored his first goal, it came in a 3-2 defeat at Brighton with Robbie Turner also scoring for Argyle. 1991-92 was a disappointing season for Argyle, they survived relegation by one point with Brighton and Port Vale going down, and they only scored 42 league goals all season and failed to score in eighteen games.
Martin contributed three of the goals, the first in a 3-2 defeat at Oxford with Mark Fiore scoring the other Argyle goal.
His next came in another away defeat, this time 5-2 at Blackburn with Dwight Marshall also on the scoresheet.
Martin’s third goal came at Home Park in a 2-0 win over Newcastle after Dave Regis had opened the scoring. He also scored in the League Cup first round against Shrewsbury in a 2-2 draw with Robbie Turner getting the other goal.
The next season saw an improvement in Argyle’s fortunes, they ended the season in 14th position and Martin added another goal to his tally scoring in an impressive 5-2 win at home to West Brom a Steve Castle hat trick and one from Paul Dalton completed the scoring.
1993-94 was far happier for the Green Army until the very last match. Martin scored in a 1-1 draw at home to Wrexham and his other league goal was also against the same team, this time the first goal in a 3-0 away win with Dwight Marshall and Paul Dalton also scoring.
Martin also scored in a League Cup first round match at home to Birmingham in a 2-0 win Dwight Marshall scored the second goal, unfortunately Argyle had lost the away leg 3-0 and were eliminated. The league season ended in spectacular fashion with the 8-1 destruction of Hartlepool.
This ensured Argyle ended in third and a place in the play-offs, they were drawn against sixth place Burnley who they had finished twelve points in front of in the table.
After a 0-0 draw at Turf Moor the 17,515 that turned up for the home leg were full of expectation, unfortunately a Dwight Marshall consolation goal wasn’t enough to save Argyle from losing 3-1. After the success of reaching the play-offs the next season was an anti-climax with striker Dwight Marshall and midfielder Steve Castle either moved on or on long term sick for a lot of the season, Argyle struggled to score goals and the defending wasn’t any better either, the first two home games ended in 5-1 defeats at the hands of Brentford and Bradford City.
Martin managed to get on the scoresheet twice; scoring Argyle’s second goal after Craig Skinner had got the first in a 2-2 draw at home to Wycombe.
He scored again in a 4-1 win at home to Wrexham, Wayne Burnett and two own goals secured Argyle’s best win of the season.
It wasn’t enough to save them though as Argyle went from the brink of promotion to relegated in a year.
Argyle’s fluctuating form continued into the 1995-96 season, with goalscorers Adrian Littlejohn and Mickey Evans both getting into double figures for the season Argyle again reached the play-offs. Even Martin scored five goals, his first came when he scored the first goal in a 3-1 home win over Wigan with Adrian Littlejohn scoring the other two.
He again scored the first goal in a 4-2 win at Home Park against Chester Ronnie Mauge, Scott Partridge and Paul Williams also got on the scoresheet. His third goal was the only goal of the game against Gillingham at home.
His final two for the season came in the same game, a 5-1 thrashing of Scarborough at home, Ronnie Mauge and Adrian Littlejohn (2) also scoring.
Some may say Martin’s main contribution to the season wasn’t his five goals but the winning of a corner at Wembley that led to Ronnie Mauge scoring the winner against Darlington to send Argyle back to Division 2 at the first attempt.
1997-98 again saw Argyle struggling against better opposition, finish in 19th and an almost ever present Martin scoring one goal and he had to wait until mid-April before it came when he scored the second goal in a 2-0 home win over Walsall with Mark Saunders also scoring.
Another disappointing season again saw Argyle at the wrong end of the table.
Although it was a good season he scored four goals. He scored both goals in a 2-1 home win over Walsall.
On Boxing Day he got the Argyle consolation goal in a 4-1 home defeat against Fulham.
His final goal came when he scored the second goal in a 3-2 home win over Wigan with Mark Saunders and Simon Collins also scoring. Although Argyle finished in 22nd and were again relegated he was awarded the Player of the Year” trophy jointly with top scorer Carlo Corazzin.
1998-99 was Martin’s tenth season at the club, celebrated it by only missing one game all season and scoring five goals, the first came in a 2-0 away win at Peterborough, Mick Heathcote scoring the first goal.
He followed it up with two goals in a 3-1 win at Brighton with Simon Collins also scoring.
He scored the first goal in a 3-0 home win over Brentford with Craig Taylor and Darren Bastow making it an easy home win. His final goal of the season came at Home Park against Shrewsbury Dwight Marshall also scoring in a 2-0 win.
As is traditional after ten years’ service Martin was awarded a testimonial against Fulham on July 28th 1999, unfortunately Martin who had been suffering with a groin injury for the tail end of the season wasn’t able to take part, he limped out on to the pitch, kicked off and was immediately substituted.
An average of 5,323 had watched Argyle at home so it was a tribute to the high regard he was held in that 4,349 came to watch the game that Fulham won 2-0. With his injury requiring an operation he was restricted to only two appearances in 1999-2000, and one of them was as a substitute.
The 2000-01 was to be Martin’s last at the club, with age and injuries beginning to take their toll he was no longer a first team regular and was loaned out to Yeovil for two months making one appearance for the Glovers.
For Argyle he made 20 league and four cup appearances that season. His final appearance came on 17th February 2001 in a 1-1 draw at Carlisle with the new midfield genius David Friio scoring his first of many goals for the club.
In total Martin made 377 appearances for Argyle and scored 26 goals. He played under seven different managers, Ken Brown, David Kemp, Peter Shilton, Neil Warnock, Mick Jones, Kevin Hodges and Paul Sturrock.
In his twelve years in a green shirt he played with 156 different team mates.
Martin moved up the A38 to spend a season with local rivals Exeter where he made 35 appearances, at the end of the season he was released and joined Weymouth on non-contract terms.
In September 2002 Martin joined Telford for his final season as a professional footballer.
He made his debut the day after signing on in a 2-0 home win over Southport, he scored his first goal on 2nd November, scoring the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over Woking and added another in a 7-4 away win at Burton Albion.
He played 30 games for Telford before retiring at the age of 32.
Martin hasn’t completely finished playing football, still regularly turning out for the Argyle Legends team and works within the car sales industry in Plymouth.
Where Are They Now – Martin Barlow
The Where Are They Now series takes a look at the career of Martin Barlow.