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Brilliant sports writer made readers laugh out loud

March 18th, 2021

An Old Monmothian, who had a hugely successful career in sports journalism, has died at the age of 71.

Martin Johnson was a former cricket correspondent of The Independent, sports feature writer at the Daily Telegraph and multi-faceted writer for The Sunday Times.

Monmouthshire-born Martin, who was in School House between 1964 and 1968, was a clever writer with his own distinctive style.

He covered some of the biggest sporting events in the world and wrote several books, including Can I Carry your Bags? The Life of a Sports Hack Abroad, in 2015.

Known for his amusing and witty writing style, Martin’s reports had a huge following often among those with little interest in sport.

Martin was at his best when the England cricket team toured Australia for the Ashes in 1986-87.

He produced perhaps his best-known quote, that there were only three things wrong with the English team: “They can’t bat, they can’t bowl and they can’t field.” Of course, England went on to defeat the Aussies soundly.

Martin’s ability to make friends among the personalities he wrote about led his editors to direct him towards his own style of feature writing, which he accomplished with his humour.

Martin penned what he wanted and was merciless in his put-downs – and fearless with it.

During his days at Monmouth School, Martin was in a foursome that won the Burnham-on-Sea West of England public schools golf championship in 1968.

After leaving Monmouth, Martin started in journalism at the South Wales Argus.

He then moved on to the The Leicester Mercury where he spent the next 11 years, writing a popular column on Ray Illingworth’s Leicestershire cricket side and covering Leicester Tigers, along with other sporting events.

Leicester became home for most of Martin’s working life.

After joining the newly-created The Independent, and later the Daily Telegraph, Martin’s career centered around global sporting events such as Formula One in Kuala Lumpur and cricket and tennis in Australia. Affectionately nicknamed Scoop, he was a brilliant writer who made readers laugh out loud.

Martin, who maintained his passion for playing golf and lived in Ross-on-Wye, died on Saturday 13th March after a long illness.

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