Gallery: Footballing stars turn out for funeral of former Colchester United manager Dick Graham
MORE than 200 people attended the funeral of a Colchester United legend today.
The former manager oversaw one of the biggest FA Cup shocks in the competition’s history when the U’s famously beat Leeds United in 1971.
Footballing stars who played in the historic match, including John Kurila, 72, Brian Gibbs, 76, and Mick Mahon, 68, attended the funeral yesterday at St James the Great Church, on East Hill, Colchester.
Mr Graham died earlier this month after a period of ill health aged 90. He lived in the St John’s area of Colchester with his wife Anne.
The town’s MP Sir Bob Russell was among the 250 guests who packed out the church and gave a eulogy during the service.
Other attendees included former club chairman Roy Chapman, who gave Graham his job at the time, current U’s manager Joe Dunne and his assistant, Mark Kinsella, along with players Kemi Izzet and Karl Duguid.
Speaking after the funeral, Brian Gibbs, 75, who played in midfield for Colchester Utd the day they beat Leeds in the FA Cup said: “He was a hard man but he was fair. If you tried hard for him, you’d be alright but if you didn’t he took it personally.
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“He always expected you to do your best. He didn’t like losing.
“There were a lot of people here today. He was a popular man. The day was very nice and I’ve seen a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time.
“I live in Silverstone now – 120 miles away, so I don’t get across much these days. There’s not many of us left from the side that faced Leeds - only about five or six of us from that team.”
Former goalkeeper Barry Smith, 60, was signed by Graham shortly after the Leeds match.
He said: “The funeral and wake has been a good chance to meet up with some of the old team and reminisce about Dick.
Graham was a big part of my life - when I left Colchester we still kept in touch and I’ve met up with him many times since. He wasn’t just interested in you when you were his player he followed your career afterwards.
“I have him to thank for my move to Sunderland after Colchester because he knew Bobby Stokoe.
“He may have had a gruff exterior but he was a genuine and caring man. He instilled a lot of belief into the team and that is why they beat Leeds that day.”