NOT many people know that Greenock boss Martin Campbell is closing in on 25 years in the game - 19 of them in a playing career that kicked off when he signed for Vale of Leven in 1990.

Brief spells with Falkirk and Dumbarton were his reward for turning in eye-catching performances before his opting for reinstatement to Greenock Juniors culminated in him playing an integral part in their Central Second Division title-winning side.

Martin can lay claim to a fantastic Junior track record by anyone's standards as he duly went on to be part of Renfrew's 2001 Scottish Junior Cup-winning squad before moving to Benburb where he picked up a West of Scotland Cup winner's medal just 12 months later.

Three seasons in the Super Premier League with Johnstone Burgh followed before he brought the curtain down on his playing days back at Greenock under the management of Stevie Mooney before assuming the role of Ravenscraig No.2 and helping steer Greenock to the Central First Division title.

A dampener on surviving their first-ever season as a Super League club against all the odds came from Mooney's surprise resignation last summer, how-ever Martin stayed put and has just consolidated their position in the Super First Division yet again.

His unassuming character was perfectly portrayed when saying after submitting his choices: "Thanks, Jim, for the opportunity to have a go at creating my Dream Team. I thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about some true greats."


Martin witnessed at close quarters outstanding shotstoppers such as Davie Cormack (Arthurlie) and Kris Robertson (Pollok), as well as playing alongside Scott Strang (Renfrew), of whom he said: "The stereotypical phrase that says "all goalies have to be mad" sums the big guy up, although it's probably true that he won Renfrew the Scottish."

He added: "Nevertheless, I have to pick Ian Banks (Benburb), who was maybe small in stature, but had great presence and agility the likes of which I have never seen.

"I was never more confident than when Banksy was between the posts, and my money was always on him to come out on top whenever an opposing striker was through on goal."


Nobody came close to Jazz Juttla (Johnstone Burgh), in Martin's thoughts to fill the right-back berth.

He said: "Top-drawer is the perfect description for Jazz, one of the nicest guys in the game and so calm and composed in possession of the ball that he could play anywhere across the backline and make it look easy."

Andy McFarlane (Benburb) was in the running for the other flank until Martin recalled Raymond Day (Maryhill and Cumnock), saying: "He could mix it against the roughest and toughest of them, yet was an all-round top player with an absolute wand of a left foot who was a free-kick specialist into the bargain."

Another former Maryhill ace Stevie Campbell (no relation), came under scrutiny for a central defensive jersey, with Martin saying: "A man mountain who was never less than horrible to play against as I'm sure any striker who was ever his direct opponent would agree.

"That said, my preference is for a mixture of brawn and brains at the heart of my defence, so I'm selecting the former Benburb pairing of Graeme Gaffney and Gary Graham.

"It's difficult to work out if Gaffers was fearless or simply not the sharpest tool in the box, because he always put his head in where it hurts and, by rights, should have worn his Predators on his head.

"His bravery made him a top defender, though not one blessed with natural ability because ask Gaffers to do more than three keepy-ups at training and you were in for a long night!"

Turning his attention to former Junior Scotland ace Graham, he added: "A great reader of the game who, whenever Benburb were under pressure, could be relied upon to stick a free-kick into the postage stamp and win us the game."


Current-day Pollok boss Tony McInally and Brian McKeown (Renfrew), were just some of the feted winger types to play in front of Martin, however he felt nobody left more defenders in his wake than ex-Burgh team-mate Willie Armour.

He reasoned: "Willie was probably one of the unfittest players, but he possessed so much natural ability that it often appeared as if he could make the ball sing."

Former mentor Stevie Mooney's aggressive qualities and ability to pick out a pass almost got the nod for a midfield sitting role, but Martin reckons his team becomes even more difficult to beat with the inclusion of Dougie Fontana (Benburb and Pollok).

He insisted: "Dougie was an old-fashioned tough guy who could give steel to any midfield and, watching him throw his body into tackles, I was always so glad he was playing in my Bens team and not against me."

Andy McLay and Richie McCusker (Maryhill) were playmaker candidates, but yet another former Lochburn Park fans' favourite, Martin Nelson, won the day.

Martin lauded: "I don't mind saying I was in awe of Nelly, whose ability to find space on the park was unbelievable while his passing was different class."

Martin McGarvey (Arthurlie and Beith), took the honours in an unaccustomed left-flank position because Martin felt "Garv couldn't be left out."

He added: "Guys like David Sharkey (Benburb) and John McLay (Burgh), were special on their day, but Martin's willingness to get on the ball and take it on mazy runs makes him a definite starter."


AS A defender, Martin recalls tough times trying to quell the threat of Scott McHarg (Maryhill) and Stevie Dallas (Petershill).

He said: "Scott was an absolute pest to play against and though not the most gifted individual, nobody can deny he made the most of what he had, while Dallas was never less than a handful and, despite his lack of height, was phenomenally good in the air.

"It therefore hurts me to omit them from my Dream Team XI, but I look upon Rocky Crichton (Pollok), as one of the best all-round strikers I've played against and so good with his back to goal.

"Beside Rocky, I have to go with the power and pace of former Greenock frontman Kenny McKay as not many defenders could live with him and I found him a pleasure to watch and coach."

Martin's line-up is: Banks, Juttla, Graham, Gaffney, Day, Armour, Fontana, Nelson, McGarvey, McKay, Crichton. Substitutes: Strang (GK), Campbell, Mooney, Dallas and McHarg.