Signed as a raw twenty year old from Plymouth Argyle for £135,000 in July 1979, Martin Hodge was the latest in a long list of contenders to fill the gloves vacated by Gordon West at the start of the decade. Tall, brave and slightly ungainly, Hodge possessed outstanding reflexes and within months of his arrival had replaced George Wood as Everton’s first choice goalkeeper.
Yet Hodge arrived amidst trying times for Everton, and it was difficult for a young player – not least one burdened with the challenge of keeping goal – to make an impression. Several of his latterly illustrious contemporaries, including the likes of Kevin Ratcliffe and Graeme Sharp, would take several years to do so. Towards the end of a promising first season, Wood reclaimed his the number one shirt. Thereafter, with the arrivals of Jim McDonagh, Jim Arnold and Neville Southall, as well as a serious knee injury, Hodge barely got a sniff of first team action.
After several loan moves, Howard Wilkinson paid £50,000 to bring him to Sheffield Wednesday, where he blossomed and was an essential part of the club’s mid-1980s renaissance. In 1986 he was placed on standby for England’s World Cup squad.