Andy Graver: Prolific centre-forward whose goals made him the most popular footballer in Lincoln City's history

 

Andy Graver will always be revered in Lincoln. Twice the hugely prolific centre-forward has been voted the most popular player in the history of the city's football club, and he is the Red Imps' top scorer, with 150 goals in his 289 League and FA Cup outings spread over his three stints at Sincil Bank.

Having been a teenage coalminer, Graver joined Newcastle United as a 20-year-old in 1947, but made only one senior appearance for the Magpies, as a stand-in for Jackie Milburn, before a 3,000 transfer took him to Lincoln three years later. As an Imp he started well and got better, scoring 36 times as City became champions of the Third Division North in 1951-52 and only missing out on an England "B" cap because of a knee injury.

In December 1954 Graver was signed by top-flight strugglers Leicester City for £27,500 plus the services of Eric Littler, but he could not prevent the Foxes' relegation and returned to Sincil Bank in the following summer. Soon he was on the move again, this time to second-tier Stoke City, then he dropped out of the League with Boston United before re-enlisting with Lincoln in 1958.

Graver continued to hit the target until 1961, when he left the League. Later he went back to Lincoln yet again, as a coach, then as a scout. At his funeral his wife said, "Andy would have been in his element, chatting to everyone and meeting all his friends – it's just a shame he's not here. He hasn't played football for 50 years – it's incredible really."

IVAN PONTING

Andrew Martin Graver, footballer: born Craghead, County Durham 12 September 1927; played for Newcastle United 1947-50, Lincoln City 1950-54, 1955, 1958-61, Leicester City 1954-55, Stoke City 1955-57; married; died York 18 January 2014.

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