My Everton #103: Jimmy Martin's Journey

Working for Everton was a fantastic journey from start to finish.

This is a great club to be at. The best, in fact. 

I was once asked by Sammy Lee to go to Bolton, I was also asked to go to Liverpool, where I'd never go, anyway - sometimes I didn't even want to go to Anfield to watch us there! 

I was never, ever going to leave for anywhere else. Why would I? Everton is the place to be. I love Everton, I have had a brilliant time working for the Club and I even met my wife, who was a tour guide, here.

There have been so many characters I've met along the way and so many stories I can look back on now.

Before I became Kit Manager, I used to drive the coaches for Eavesway in Ashton-in-Makerfield. We had the Everton contract back then and, of course, I'm an Evertonian so the lad who had the job before me - Cyril Williams - was retiring and Eavesway asked me if I wanted to take over, which I couldn't wait to do.

I spent 12 months running around all of the grounds with Cyril as a two-man driver job to find out where all the stadiums were because there were no sat navs in those days. You just had to find your own way - and be just on time, not too early and not too late.

I lost count of the number of trips I drove the players down to Wembley. It was 11 times in total during the 1980s. The fans were fantastic. We'd be approaching the stadium and they'd be hanging off the wiper blades and the mirrors! I will never forget those experiences. 

It would bring a tear to my eye seeing us do so well.

One of the stories all of the people who were there still talk about was coming back from Norwich City after winning the league title in 1987. Terry Darracott, who was basically Radio Everton for the journey home, had people coming up to the front on the microphone to sing a song or tell a joke and things like that. I was only doing about 40 miles per hour on the M6 and Howard Kendall went, 'Jimmy, Jimmy... slow down', and if you didn't Terry Darracott would hit you over the head with the mic! 

When we eventually pulled up at Burtonwood services to let Ian Snodin off, someone had cut all his clothes without him knowing so when he got up to get off the bus all of his clothes just fell off him - and his missus was waiting in the car to pick him up wondering what had gone on! You only see that sitting in the coach driver's seat. They were fantastic days and a group of fantastic lads.

I loved Howard Kendall. He was just class. I will always remember when he offered me the job as kit man. I was taking the reserves to a game on the Wednesday and Howard used to come on the bus with us to watch them, because that's what you did in those days, and when he came on that particular day he told me to come and see him on Saturday before I take the reserves, who were playing at Manchester United, to their next game. He told me that he had something for me.

I was a painter and decorator in those days - that was my trade. I used to do a little bit for Colin Harvey, a little bit for Sharpy, Andy Gray and a few others during the summer holidays, alongside driving the coach during the season.

I went into Howard's office and Jim Greenwood, who was the secretary then, a fantastic fella, he was there, too. I sat down and Jim told me they wanted me to be the kit man. Howard had been to Bilbao and that was the standard over there - they all had kit men looking after the players and all of that side of things.

He organised for me to go to see Norman Davies at Manchester United and have a few days with him to pick up a few things about the role. I was going to be in charge of all of the apprentices so I had to give them all the jobs and make sure everything was being done properly. 

Jim and Howard told me to come back the following day and I brought my wife because he told me to bring someone with me - but I had no idea he was going to give me a car. I went back to Howard's office, signed the contract and all that and I couldn't believe there was a car included in it. Howard handed me the keys. I'll never forget it, it was a silver Ford Orion Ghia... Going into my street with that - blimey! They'd thought I'd won the pools!

That was Howard, he made sure people were looked after. He was first class.

I had fantastic times being in and around the dressing room for so many years. You see it all - narrow wins, big wins, defeats, arguments, celebrations, fighting. I've seen some great players - and some bad ones, too! But some really brilliant people. Even if they're not the best players, it doesn't mean to say they're not the best lads.

Looking back at my time - nobody got the better of me, I can safely say that. I didn't care who they were.

I remember one time we were playing away in the Europa League and someone had just left all of their dirty gear in the showers, so I had a look it and it was number five - it was Samuel Eto'o, who hadn't been with us long. I brought them out and we have a bin in the middle of the changing rooms for the kit and I went, 'Samuel, I don't care where you've played - Barcelona, Chelsea... you're at Everton now - and you don't do this. Don't leave your gear in the shower. It's not our job to pick up your dirty gear' and I threw it in the bin. The dressing room went dead silent. And from that moment me and him got on like a house on fire. He appreciated it. 

We always had a mutual respect with the players, but we were always a step ahead of them!

I love this club. I always will. I had a great life working at Everton and my wife and I are going to have a great life now I'm retired as well.

By Jimmy Martin, Evertonian and Kit Manager between 1990 and 2023

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