This is an article about George Graham, the player. There are numerous articles on this site about George as a manager. See the index here.
George Graham was the youngest of seven children from a poor Coatbridge family. He was born on 30 November 1944 and his father died on Christmas Day that year from TB, as did his eldest sister in 1951. It is of course utter speculation but it is possible that his later financial indiscretion which caused his removal as Arsenal manager, may have had its origins in this childhood.
He signed for Aston Villa on 30 November 1961 and played eight times for them, including the League Cup final which they lost.
In July 1964 he signed for Chelsea for £5,000 and played 72 league games for them scoring 35 goals. He won his first medal there – again in the League Cup, in 1965.
Arsenal paid £75,000 for Graham, and supplied Tommy Baldwin as well, and George played his first Arsenal game on 1 October 1966 at Highbury v Leicester City. He became a regular member of the team, being top scorer in both 1966–67 and 1967–68.
He was in fact seen at first as a replacement for Joe Baker at centre forward with John Radford on the wing. Radford then moved into the centre and Graham became a central midfield playmaker (“inside forward in the parlance of the time) who never broke sweat – hence “stroller”.
Continuing his affiliation with the league cup he played in both the 1968 and 1969 finals and then won the Fairs Cup in 1970 and of course was part of the Double team of 1970/71.
But then just as George Graham had himself replaced Joe Baker, so he in turn was replaced by Alan Ball and in December 1972, after 77 goals in 308 appearance in all competitions, Graham was sold to Manchester United.
He won his first of 12 Scottish caps while at Arsenal, on 13 October 1971. However Manchester United were in poor shape at the time, and were relegated to the second division. After two years he went to Portsmouth and then Crystal Palace before playing in the US in 1978 for California Surf.
After that he returned to coach Palace, and then QPR. On 6 December 1982 George Graham became manager of Millwall, who were playing to tiny crowds at the foot of the 3rd division. In 1985 they were promoted, and looked ready to go up a further division which they did. But then Arsenal came along once more…
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