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On This Day: Andy Graver makes Imps debut

23 September 2019

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Lincoln City's all-time record goalscorer, Andrew Graver, made his first Lincoln City appearance on this day (23rd September) in 1950.

Andy Graver netted 143 goals from 274 Football League appearances in three spells with the Imps in a record-breaking era for the club, which included promotions from Division Four to the Second Division.

Fast, direct and above all a fine opportunist in from of goal Andy netted consistently throughout his career, finishing as City's leading scorer on three occasions as well as notching up six hat-tricks.

Born in Craghead, Co. Durham on September 12th 1927, Andy was working down the pit when he first came to prominence and after rejecting the chance to join Coventry City he signed professional forms for Newcastle United just a few weeks before his 20th birthday.

The competition for places at St James' Park was fierce though with the Magpies having players such as Jackie Milburn, Roy Bentley and George Robledo on their books.

As a result, Andy found it difficult to break out of the Central League team and his sole first team appearance came against Manchester City in January 1950.

When City manager Bill Anderson came in for him the following September, Andy reluctantly agreed to move south for a £5,000 fee.

He was an immediate success for the Imps scoring on his debut against Halifax and quickly established a fruitful partnership with inside-forward Johnny Garvie. Other clubs were quick to notice his emerging talents and within a matter of months Norwich City offered £12,500 for his services.

Andy remained at Lincoln, however, and played a key role in City's record-breaking 1951/52 campaign scoring 36 goals in 35 League games as the Imps fought off challenges from Stockport County and Grimsby Town to win the Division Three North title.

Unfortunately a cartilage injury in the second half of the season cost him the opportunity to overtake Allan Hall's Club record of 41 goals and also kept him out of the England B team after he had been selected to play against the Netherlands.

Earlier in the season he hit six goals as the Imps ran up a record 11-1 victory over Crewe Alexandra - a game he nearly missed due to illness - with two coming with his left foot, two with his right and two with his head.

When the Imps went up to Division Two Andy found himself being marked much tighter but continued to score goals at a steady rate, with the highlight being four goals in an 8-0 win over Blackburn Rovers in August 1953.

He continued to be a regular transfer target of bigger clubs and in December 1954 he was sold to First Division Leicester City for a record fee of £27,500 plus Eric Littler (who was valued at £600).

The following season Andy returned to Sincil Bank for £14,000 but stayed only a couple of months before moving on to Stoke City for another large fee.

Another return to Sincil Bank was on the cards until Midland League Boston United came in with a better contract and he went there eventually returning to Lincoln for two more seasons before retiring from senior football at the end of the 1960/61 season.

Andy played part-time with Skegness Town and then Ilkeston Town before a broken ankle brought his playing career to an end and for a spell in the 1960s he coached the Imps' youth team. On leaving football he worked for 30 years for a local finance company.

Graver sadly passed away aged 86 in January 2014.

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