Started by shinglis, November 02, 2018, 10:00:57
QuoteSorry for being late to acknowledge the death of Johnny Graham. The news broke a couple of days before I set off on holiday but I was unsure because it had not been authenticated by official sources at that time. Johnny GrahamMidfielder, 1971 - 1976Johnny Graham originally turned senior with Third Lanark after being spotted with Strathclyde Juniors. His next career moves took him to Dundee United, Falkirk, Hibs and then to Ayr United in time to make a debut at home to Morton on 4th September, 1971. The team was : Stewart, McFadzean, Murphy, Quinn, McAleer, Filippi, McGovern, Graham, Ingram, Mitchell and Doyle ; substitute - Campbell. After a 1-0 win, it was written that : "He (Graham) arrived like a breath of fresh air". By the following month his play was more akin to a hurricane than a breath of fresh air. On 9th October, 1971, a 3-1 deficit at Airdrie was magically transformed into a sensational 4-3 victory. Johnny Graham scored all four Ayr goals. He had the skill and tenacity to create chances but his powers of marksmanship proved him to be the type of player who was willing to work well beyond the average remit of a midfield player. The four-goal feat was repeated before that season had expired. In the penultimate League fixture of the 1971-72 season, Partick Thistle were beaten 4-0 at Somerset Park. Graham netted all of the goals. In the 1972-73 Scottish Cup run, Johnny Graham was, of course, a key player. In a legendary game from Ayr United's past, Partick Thistle were heavily disposed of at the quarter-final stage. In the following midweek, Graham had to retire injured during the first half of a 2-0 win at home to Hearts. Naturally, he was omitted for the next two League fixtures. These games preceded the Scottish Cup semi-final in which a comeback was ventured. He may not have been quite ready but his quality made his selection a justifiable gamble. Alas, he had to miss the entire second half and, in the present day, supporters reminisce that the chances of conquering Rangers would have been so much greater with a fully fit Johnny Graham. In 1973-74 he was bestowed with the club captaincy. This was a season in which the success of 1972-73 was built upon. The steps to the Scottish Cup semi-final were almost retraced. "Graham made his customary excellent job from the spot" - (Hearts 1 Ayr United 1, 9th March, 1974). In front of a 17,219 attendance, Johnny Graham's successful penalty kick gave the team a first half lead in a quarter-final tie. Alan Anderson forced a replay with a goal ten minutes from the end. Somerset Park housed 16,185 for an epic replay in which the Hearts winner came in the closing minutes of extra time. Graham's proficiency from the penalty spot was another facet of his game. It demonstrated a willingness to assume the responsiblity expected of a good captain and further typified his coolness in a situation of pressure. In 1974-75, it was necessary to finish in the First Division's top ten in order to reach the cut-off for the new Premier Division. On 19th April, 1975, Ayr United's place in the upper echelon was guaranteed with a 3-2 win at home to Dunfermline Athletic. Johnny Graham scored twice, the first of which was a free-kick from thirty yards. The other one was from a penalty kick. He was named as the Supporters' Association 'Player of The Year' for that season. On 11th October, 1975, he scored with a clinical volley in a 3-0 destruction of Rangers at Somerset Park. Despite this and other high profile victories, it was anticipated that, as the only part time club operating in a ten-club League, a fight against relegation would be unavoidable. It all came down to a last game showdown against Motherwell. Johnny Graham had been a regular fixture in his attacking midfield role but, together with Gordon Cramond, he was ruled out. In dramatic circumstances the match was won. Yet the two players just mentioned were deserving of a special acknowledgement for assisting the club into a situation where there was a fighting chance. However Johnny Graham departed before even the turn of the 1976-77 season had been reached. He returned to Falkirk. In July 1978, it was announced that he was returning to Ayr United as reserve team coach. It was a premature announcement. Falkirk claimed that he was still a signed player with them, even after he had already began working at Somerset Park. The matter was resolved when a nominal fee was paid. Mounting business interests caused a change of focus and he eventually became a regular spectator at Queen's Park matches after his son became an established player with them. League appearances 161(7). Goals 62. Scottish Cup appearances 15. Goals 3. League Cup appearances 26(1). Goals 7.