He made almost 100 first team appearances for us, many as first team captain, but is best remembered as a key part of Nobby Clark’s backroom staff in the late seventies and early eighties.
Born in Bilston on 22 December 1942, Graham started out with Brierley Hill Boys before joining Wolverhampton Wanderers as an amateur in summer 1959. He worked his way up to the reserve team before signing professional forms with Blackpool in 1961. He didn’t make the first team there either and returned home when he signed for Walsall FC in February 1962. His professional debut came against Chelsea and in total he made 34 first team appearances for the Saddlers (12 goals), including once playing with a broken ankle in a Division Two match against Charlton in 1963.
His next stop was Highfield Road, Coventry, in 1964. Signed for a fee of £8,000, Graham was mainly a reserve player under Jimmy Hill, and he left for Bournemouth in December 1964 after just 9 first team outings (3 goals). At Bournemouth he contributed another 3 goals in 33 matches before trying his luck as one of the pioneer English footballers in the United States with Atlanta Chiefs in 1967, appearing alongside former City player Peter McParland. Now converted to a midfielder, he won a championship medal there before returning to the UK for a stint for Port Vale in November 1968 (5 appearances, 1 goal) and then went back across the Atlantic.
Upon his return in 1970, Graham had a pre-season trial with Reading before joining Hednesford Town. City manager Wilf Grant signed him on a month’s trial in November 1970 and Graham stayed for the rest of the season. The following year he was made first team captain but he left in the summer of 1972 after failing to agree terms for the new season.
After finishing his playing career with Stourbridge, Graham returned to Worcester twelve months later as the successor to Wilf Grant. His stay didn’t last long as manager – he was sacked in December 1973 on the back of a 6-1 defeat at Chelmsford City. City had made a poor start to the season and were eventually relegated, but Graham’s hands had been tied financially from the start.
Clearly, he must have felt an affinity with City, because he returned in 1975 as Reserve Team Manager, and the following year stepped up to become First Team Coach under Nobby Clark’s managership. Graham played a key part in the success that followed, including two league championships and two memorable F.A. Cup runs, earning the respect of players and supporters alike.
With money becoming tight again however, he left in 1983 and took over as manager at Willenhall. Whilst there, he signed his good friend, City legend Barry Williams, when Barry was released by City in the summer of 1983. A spell in charge of Stourbridge followed and for many years afterwards Graham travelled regularly to the USA to work as a coach. He became Director of International Soccer Camps UK from 2001 and did more coaching in the USA before finally retiring.
Graham continued to live in the Wolverhampton area and was always pleased to come back to Worcester whenever we had reunions. He was full of stories about his time in football and always willing to share a laugh, but underneath he was a dedicated football man and will forever be associated with the glory days here at Worcester City. He sadly passed away on 25 February 2019 whilst in Spain after suffering a heart attack. There was a minutes applause in tribute to “Newty” prior to our home game against Romulus last Saturday.
Updated 21:07 - 15 Mar 2019 by WCFC .