Dick Graham was a ‘leader of gladiators’

Dick Graham, pictured before Colchester United's game against Crystal Palace in 2007

Dick Graham, pictured before Colchester United's game against Crystal Palace in 2007

FORMER Colchester United manager, Dick Graham, has died at the age of 90 after a period of poor health.

Graham masterminded the U’s finest hour, by leading his then-Fourth Division side to a famous 3-2 win over Don Revie’s Leeds United on February 13, 1971.

A brace from ex-England and Ipswich Town striker, Ray Crawford, and one from ex-Aston Villa ace Dave Simmons put the U’s on their way to a memorable victory, despite two comeback goals by Norman Hunter and Johnny Giles.

Graham played more than 250 games for Crystal Palace, as a goalkeeper, before being forced to retire due to a back problem at the age of 29.

He returned to the game five years later, as a coach at West Brom, before establishing himself as a successful manager at his former club Palace, helping them to two promotions from the old Division Four to Division Two.

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He was appointed U’s boss on June 1, 1968, and was entered into the U’s hall of fame in 2007.

A family statement has been issued, following Graham’s death.

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It reads: ‘To us, he was certainly a gladiator in his own time, when he was a player, and a leader of gladiators when he was a manager. But away from the arena he was a kind, reflective man and one who believed that this life was a test and whatever life throws at us, we must not only try to do our best but always act with integrity. He was a hero to us, his family and a hero to many people in Colchester and beyond.’

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