Marty time

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - Paul MacDougall Thanks to Nova Sco­tia Sport Hall of Fame once again for great pho­tos. Paul, a big fan of univer­sity foot­ball, can be reached at paul_­mac­

Paul MacDougall re­calls Sydney na­tive’s CFL ca­reer.

Foot­ball, you bet! For Cana­dian foot­ball fans, Sun­day is the day you’ve been wait­ing for — the Grey Cup. It ranks up there with a Game 7 of the Stan­ley Cup fi­nal, the men and women’s curl­ing cham­pi­onships, even the re­cent Jays World Se­ries run. This year’s game, the 103rd, is be­ing played in Win­nipeg.

Fifty years ago, Win­nipeg played Hamil­ton in the Grey Cup in Toronto and lost to the Tiger­Cats in what’s been de­scribed as one of the windi­est Grey Cup match-ups ever. Hamil­ton was helped to their vic­tory by mid­dle guard Marty Martinello, a Sydney lad who had been play­ing in the CFL for a few years by then.

Marty Martinello was one of nine chil­dren born to Felice and Rosina Martinello of Whit­ney Pier. Born in 1931, Martinello lived on Tup­per and Henry streets and at­tended Villa Nova and Holy Re­deemer boys schools. As a young­ster he en­joyed skat­ing and play­ing hockey and base­ball with the other kids from the Pier. Life was good un­til things took a turn dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Marty’s fa­ther was one of many in­no­cent Ital­ian men sent to the in­tern­ment camp in On­tario in 1940 when Italy de­clared war against Bri­tain.

My mother re­mem­bers her Ital­ian fa­ther throw­ing out any­thing he brought from the old coun­try for fear the au­thor­i­ties would haul him off to the camp as well. Even the home­made wine went down the sink. For those that got sent to the camp, like Felice Martinello, the days were long and many men passed the time whit­tling and carv­ing. My mother has a set of salad tongs Felice Martinello sent home to my grand­par­ents dur­ing this time and they’re an in­ter­est­ing ironic re­minder to me of a strange pe­riod in Cana­dian history, hope­fully not to be re­peated.

Rather than re­turn to Sydney af­ter his release from in­tern­ment, the el­der Martinello moved his fam­ily to Hamil­ton. It was here Marty be­gan play­ing foot­ball in high school. Though he wasn’t that big he con­tin­ued to play in the lo­cal ju­nior teams and by 1953, was called up to the Mon­treal Alou­ettes. He played in three Grey Cups with them from 1954 to 1956, com­ing up short in all three to the pretty well un­de­feat­able Ed­mon­ton Eski­mos.

Af­ter five years in Mon­treal he spent two on the West Coast with the fledg­ling B.C. Li­ons be­fore re­turn­ing east to play for the Ar­gos in Toronto, earn­ing berths on the East­ern All-Star team in 1960 and 1961. Af­ter five years with the Ar­gos, he joined the Tiger-Cats re­turn­ing full cir­cle to his early days at the Cathe­dral Boys School in Hamil­ton. It was here in Hamil­ton in 1965 Martinello got his fourth shot at the Grey Cup and this time was suc­cess­ful.

With gusts up to 40 miles per hour dur­ing the “Wind Bowl” of­fi­cials and coaches made an un­prece­dented punt­ing rule change prior to the game. Once a re­turner touched a third down punted ball it was de­clared dead. With­out this in place of­fi­cials feared the wind would force third down con­ver­sions all day long and ruin the nor­mal play of the game.

Dur­ing Martinello’s foot­ball ca­reer there were no tackle or quar­ter­back sack stats kept so there are few records avail­able for him. CFLa­pe­dia does re­port a pair of in­ter­cep­tions and a couple of fum­ble re­cov­er­ies, in­clud­ing one for a touch­down in 1965 with Hamil­ton, the same year Hamil­ton de­feated Win­nipeg 22-16 to win the Grey Cup. Martinello re­tired in 1966 af­ter four­teen years grind­ing it out the front lines of the CFL.

There are only a few CFL play­ers who come from Nova Sco­tia and the prov­ince rec­og­nized Martinello for his long ca­reer and Grey Cup win by in­duc­tion into the Nova Sco­tia Sport Hall of Fame in 1986. He is also a mem­ber of the Cape Bre­ton Sports Hall of Fame and the Nova Sco­tia Foot­ball Hall of Fame.

Martinello went on study met­al­lurgy and busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion af­ter his dis­tin­guished foot­ball ca­reer, even­tu­ally ac­quir­ing an MBA from McMaster Univer­sity. He worked for years with Kent Steel and ended his ca­reer in 1996 re­tir­ing from the met­als di­vi­sion of In­ter­metco Ltd. as vice-pres­i­dent. While work­ing with them he of­ten sup­plied Sydney Steel with many of his com­pany’s prod­ucts.


Marty Martinello of Whit­ney Pier won a Grey Cup with the Hamil­ton Tiger­Cats in 1965. He played for the Tiger-Cats, Mon­treal Alou­ettes, B.C. Li­ons and Toronto Arg­onauts in a ca­reer that spanned from 1954-66.

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