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2007/8 Special Inductee

11 October 2013

Dick becomes first manager inducted.

Colchester United are delighted to announce that Dick Graham has become the latest inductee into the club's Hall of Fame, in November 2007.

Dick becomes the first manager to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and his induction came on a particularly appropriate afternoon, given that he has managed both Colchester United and the day's visitors Crystal Palace.

Previous inductees Peter Wright, Brian Hall, Micky Cook, Tony English and Mark Kinsella were voted in at the end of last season, but the Hall of Fame committee decided to mark the last ever meeting between two of Dick's former sides to also take him into the Hall of Fame.

Dick admitted that he is pleased to have been asked to join the original five inductees from the 2006/7 season.

"I'm very honoured and humble about being asked to be part of the club's Hall of Fame in what is such a big season for all involved with Colchester United," he said.

Although Dick never won promotion with Colchester, to this day he still remains the most famous and popular U's team boss in the club's 70-year-history.

And the Hall of Fame committee felt that, with this looking likely to be the last ever match between the U's and Palace at the ground where Dick created so many headlines, the timing was apt to ask this Colchester United legend to become our latest inductee.

He added: "Throughout my life in football, I always wanted to do a good job wherever I worked. I was involved with many clubs both as a player and a manager during my career, and I always tried to do my best and tried to remain loyal to them.

"Colchester were my last professional club and I had some very happy times in my spell as manager. 

"I was very fortunate to have a great bunch of players with me and I'm very pleased to collect such an honour and to be included in the Hall of Fame.

"There is a link with two of the other inductees - I know Peter Wright very well and count him as a very dear friend. Brian Hall was one of our best players and was a favourite for everyone, not only the spectators but also his own team-mates and the people he worked alongside." 

Dick Graham will always be revered as the manager that shattered football headlines across the world for masterminding Colchester United's shock FA Cup defeat of mighty Leeds United - the uncrowned kings of Europe -in 1971.

But his four-year love affair with the U's began three years earlier on June 4, 1968.

He took over at Layer Road at the age of 46-years-old with more than 30 years experience in the game already behind him.

Dick began his career as a goalkeeper with Northampton Town's Combination team at the tender age of 14.

From there he moved to Leicester City and soon after the war was signed by Crystal Palace.

He made over 250 first team appearances for Palace before a severe spinal injury in 1952 finished his playing career.

It took two years to shake off the effects of the injury, in which time he went on an FA Coaching course and in 1954 applied for and was appointed as trainer to West Bromwich Albion under the management of Vic Buckingham.

The next six years were among the happiest of Dick's life as WBA reached the FA Cup semi-finals once, plus the quarter-finals three times and were never out of the top four in the First Division throughout that time.

In 1961 Dick moved back to Crystal Palace as assistant manager to Arthur Rowe and in their first season were promoted from Division Four, after which Rowe was forced to give up through ill-health leaving Dick to take over at the top.

Only goal average cost Palace the Third Division championship to Coventry City in 1963/4, but they still enjoyed promotion to Division Two as runners-up.

Dick departed from Selhurst Park little more than a season later and after a short spell as an advisor at Charlton Athletic he took over as manager of Leyton Orient in July 1966.

His 18 months at the cash-strapped O's helm were some of the most desperate of his entire career and after a period in which he also acted as groundsman, barman and fund-raising organiser, he quit Brisbane Road.

A brief spell at Walsall was followed by an equally short sojourn to Greece in early 1968 where he was tempted by several offers from a Greek First Division club before throwing in his lot for the next four years with Colchester.

He joined the U's - then a humble Fourth Division side - following the sacking of Neil Franklin after the club finished second from bottom in Division Three and were relegated.

Colchester finished sixth at the end of Dick's first season at the helm and 11th, twelve months later at the end of the 1969/70 campaign.

At this point he added the final pieces to his famous cup-fighting 'Graham's Grandads' jigsaw that saw-off star-studded Leeds before bowing out of the FA Cup against Merseyside giants Everton in the quarter-finals.

Their epic cup efforts, compounded by injuries to key players, were to cost Graham and the U's certain promotion, but Dick hit the national headlines again five months later when his Colchester side were invited to play in the pre-season Watney Cup tournament as one of Division Four's highest scorers.

They stunned the country's football followers yet again by hoisting the trophy after beating First Division West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in a penalty shoot-out - following a 4-4 draw - having already seen-off Luton Town and Carlisle in the earlier rounds.

After finishing 11th again in the 1971/2 season, a financial crisis at Layer Road forced Dick to break-up his history-making cup squad.

He resigned a broken man - sickened by the game he loved - in early October 1972 after what he claimed to be a "witch-hunt led by a U's shareholder who had won five shares in a raffle."

Totally disillusioned by the distasteful experience, Dick's parting shot was: "If I had fielded a team of 11 carpenters they would still have expected it to have beaten Leeds United."

However, his place in Colchester United's history is assured forever - and his inclusion in the Hall of Fame is, we hope, due acknowledgement of what he did to our football club.

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