Falling just short of Adam Black’s club record League appearance total, but bettering his aggregate tally to stand, with 599 senior games for City, as Leicester’s most consistent servant ever, Graham also proved himself one of the most versatile over his sixteen seasons.
It was often said that his regular switching of position cost him an England place (especially in the days when little premium was put on zonal adaptability), but Graham’s failure to add senior international honors to his eleven Under 23 caps nevertheless seemed more a case of culpable oversight on the part of the national teams management.
As early as 1962/63, Matt Gillies tactical interchanging Frank McLintock and Graham was a match winning ploy, though a later tendency to shuttle Graham between defense, midfield and the striking line could occasionally be put down to desperate expedience. Eventually, when the twin center-back game became the norm, it was in defense that Graham settled if that’s the right word, given his relentless energy and enthusiasm.
Four Cup Final appearances, a Second Division Championship medal and a 1973 testimonial game were the tangible memories jostle of the 18 year old playing like a veteran in City’s gallant European exit in Madrid, of the cool back heel that won a Cup replay at Blackburn, of the hat-trick against Forest consisting of one of them, two for us of numerous busting forays forward, and of countless opposing strikers cowed into frustration with Graham’s sturdy shadowing and solid tackle.
His football prowess, several times coveted by Brian Clough, probably cost him a much more successful county cricket career than he actually managed (as, naturally a Leicestershire all-rounder, but the winter game kept a hold on him for some time after his final departure from Filbert Street.
He was ever-present at Brighton & Hove Albion’s runaway rise from Third to Second Division in 1977, and then inspired Preston North End to take the same promotional route a year later. It was wholly unfitting that when he answered Lincoln’s emergency call in 1979, even Graham couldn’t save them from relegation.
A spell coaching and then being the manager of Hinckley Athletic marked the final phase of his soccer involvement. Sadly, Graham was back in the news in February 1993, when being jailed for 9 months for theft and false accounting, after utilising Post Office funds in his care to cover serious gambling debts
- Full Name: Graham Frederick Cross
- Position: Defender
- Date of Birth: 15.11.1943
- Birthplace: Leicester
- Nation: England
- U.23 Caps: 11, Debut: 1963 v. Yugoslavia
- Major League Career
- 1960-76, Leicester City (498/29)
- 1976-77, Brighton & Hove Albion (46/3)
- 1975-76, Chesterfield, on loan, (12/0)
- 1977-78, Preston North End (19/0)
- 1978-79, Lincoln City (19/0)