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Line Of Duty Star Martin Compston Tells All About Football Career

Line Of Duty Star Martin Compston Tells All About Football Career
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Season Six of the incredible cop drama Line of Duty premieres Sunday evening on the BBC. To celebrate this landmark day, we're republishing some of our favourite LOD-related articles

There was a period when Martin Compston spent more time bending in crosses than catching bent coppers on Line Of Duty.

The actor, who plays DS Steve Arnott on the BBC show, had spells with both Aberdeen and Greenock Morton before moving into acting.

He actually played two senior games for the latter side at the end of the 2001/2 season.

Speaking on Si Ferry's Open Goal podcast, Compston said he was spotted by Greenock Morton while playing in a Scottish underage cup final against Celtic Boys Club. Future Scotland and Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher played for Celtic in that game.

After a time at his hometown club, he was picked up by Aberdeen. The teenage midfielder would spend his Easter and summer holidays with the club.

"They’d let you mix with the first team quite a lot; let you train with Eoin Jess, Dean Windass, Billy Dodds," said Compston.


We'd go out and we had our minibus, and the first team had their bus.

We were warned: 'Nobody mess with the motor, if you mess with the motor then you're going home. You're out the club'.

So we're all sitting on the bus and Dean Windass came down one day, and he's like, 'alright boys?', and turned the handbrake off!

It's going down a hill but we're all like, we can't touch the motor, so we're all shitting ourselves rolling down this hill!

We're rolling towards this car so I jumped out!

Compston captained the Aberdeen youth team for a while but knew when his time was up at the club.


"I remember I was captain at a game and one of the top scouts came down, and we got beat off an East Kilbride select.

"I went, 'that's that fucked!'"

Having kept in touch with Greenock Morton, he soon signed with them.


It just wasn’t a good time to be at the club. They’d just gone down to the second division and we were struggling.

It was a mad time. We were full-time the YTS players. There was only three or four of us cleaning 40 pairs of boots and cleaning the stadium. The first team were coming in training at night. There was a lot of hanging about. I felt more like a cleaner than a football player.

I made my debut when I was 17. We were away to Alloa. I knew they were only going to pitch me in if we were well up or well down. I felt terrible, Alloa were winning 2-0 with 40 minutes left and they put a third one in and I was like, ‘You beauty’.

The last game of the season, we had to win to stay up and we were playing Queen of the South who had to win to win the league. It was a sell-out, 14,000. The atmosphere was unbelievable.

There was some bastard... At half-time, I knew I was going on. So I’m spraying balls about. It smashed somebody and he’s run on and rugby tackled me. The stewards were just all laughing.

It was nerve-wracking. It was Scottish second division football but it’s like, ‘You’ve done that’.

Compston's big acting break came in a Ken Loach film called Sweet Sixteen. He was still at Greenock Morton when it was filmed.


"It worked out perfect," said Compston.

"I’d just finished my exams and I’d got my Morton contract. The auditions were at the end of the year. I went to [Morton manager] Peter Cormack and asked if it was alright to miss a couple of days of pre-season. We filmed it in the close season. He said, ‘You’re a fit boy, you’ll be fine’. I finished filming and went back to Greenock Morton.

"I remember being gutted because in the programme notes, the players were asked who’s their favourite actor and not one of them said me. I thought one of them, for a joke, would throw my name in there!"

Though Ken Loach thought Compston had the talent to take up acting full-time and said he would back him if he wanted to do so, the legendary director advised him to stick with football. That was advice which the teenager did not take.

"I remember when I made the decision to quit football," said Compston.

"One of the big things was I went down to London for a load of auditions - this was before Sweet Sixteen was released. It was my first time in London. I went down wearing what I’d wear to a nightclub. There were guys there in just t-shirts and chinos. I felt terrible right away.

"There was an audition for a show called The Royal, it was a Heartbeat spin-off. They sent me the wrong script. They said, ‘Take those and come back in ten minutes’.

"It was a two-page bit about this suicidal boy having a mental breakdown. I was fuming because I’d come all this was and they could have given me this days ago. I went in and I was raging. I thought they were very dismissive of me. I just felt out of place with what I was wearing. I was really angry. I went full pelt at it.

"I rang the person who became my agent and said, ‘This isn’t for me. I really didn’t like it’. She said, ‘You got it’.

"That was a big wake-up call. They don’t know who I am. They hadn’t seen Sweet Sixteen. To get that, I said, ‘OK, I’m alright at this’.

"Morton weren’t going through the best of times. I was driving up the road one day, passing Cappielow [Greenock Morton’s stadium] and I just went in and said [to manager Dave McPherson], ‘I think I’m going to give this acting a crack’. He said, ‘Sorry to lose you', but I didn’t find it too hard to be honest."

Picture credit: Wikipedia

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