Suffolk football legend remembered

TRIBUTES have been paid to a multi-millionaire who became one of Suffolk's best-loved and most successful sport and business leaders.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a multi-millionaire who became one of Suffolk's best-loved and most successful sport and business leaders.

Keith Martin, 67, a prominent businessman who also managed AFC Sudbury with great success, died on Monday after a long illness.

Last night his family described Mr Martin, who was born into a poor mining community, as “inspirational”.

Mr Martin, who as well known across Suffolk for his passion for football and his success in the boardroom, had battled a heart valve condition since his twenties.

More recently he had developed diabetes and had undergone numerous operations to tackle infections in his toes.

The keen sportsman and builder by trade died at his home in Newton, near Sudbury, on Monday night of heart failure.

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Meanwhile Ipswich Witches will hold a minute's silence before tomorrow's Elite League speedway meeting against Coventry at Foxhall Stadium to remember Mr Martin.

His companies are sponsoring the meeting against the Bees.

As another mark of respect, the sponsor's Tim Woodward lounge will remain in darkness throughout the evening.

Witches rider/manager Chris Louis paid a tribute to Mr Martin, saying: “The news of Keith's death came as a shock and is very sad.”

Mr Martin's son Lee, who led the tributes from the family, described his father's achievements in the face of a disadvantaged Derbyshire coal mining background and a lifetime of poor health as extraordinary.

He said: “My father was always moved from house to house in his childhood so his biggest drive was to build and own his own house so no one would take that away from him.

“He was a remarkable man. From his background to what he achieved you had to be brave. His passion and drive made him successful in everything he tried - including sport and business.”

His widow, Jacqui, spoke of the strong bond which held them together. She said: “We spent 42 fantastic years together and we loved each other so much.”

Since leaving Derbyshire as a boy he travelled with his family before finally deciding to settle in Sudbury in his late teens. He then went on to found K Martin Sudbury Ltd and numerous other businesses including MTM Plant Hire.

While maintaining his business interests Mr Martin became the manager of Sudbury Wanderers and was also the first AFC manager when the club merged with Sudbury Town in June 1999.

With AFC he won three major trophies and stood down after leading AFC to the FA Vase final at Upton Park in May 2003.

He went on to manage Wroxham and Heybridge Swifts before retiring from football in September 2005.

He leaves his widow, three sons, a daughter and 13 grandchildren.