By paying such a colossal fee, City, struggling in their first season back in the top flight, were taking a big risk. It was a risk which failed. Four years earlier, when Graver was a Newcastle United reserve, Lincoln City paid £5,000 to bring him to Sincil Bank in September 1950.
In the next four seasons, he scored 111 league and cup goals in 181 appearances, including a double hat-trick against Crewe Alexandra.
His 36 goals in 35 games in 1951/52 helped Lincoln secure the ‘old’ Third Division title and earned him a selection for the England ‘B’ side, although he had to withdraw due to a cartilage injury.
He was also Lincoln City’s top scorer for the next two seasons. In December 1954, Leicester, desperately fighting relegation in the First Division, were very keen to sign Graver for his goalscoring prowess.
He was described at the time as a fast, direct player who was a fine opportunist in front of goal. Lincoln were very reluctant to lose Graver and wanted £30,000 for his transfer.
This figure wasn’t far short of the British transfer record which then stood at £34,500. After further negotiations, the fee was set at £27,000 plus the exchange of Leicester City’s Eric Littler who was valued at £600.
He had scored 70 goals for the reserves between 1952 and 1954 and had made five appearances in Leicester City’s first team.
However, Graver’s move to Filbert Street in December 1954 was not a success. He had arrived at a bad time. The Club was near the bottom of the league and in turmoil.
The directors’ minutes reveal that in the week that Graver signed, the board was secretly planning to sack manager Norman Bullock at the end of the season.
In fact, following an incident between the manager and star player Johnny Morris, Bullock was sacked as early as February 1955.
The directors selected the team for the remainder of the season and Leicester City were relegated.
Although he scored in his first two games for his new club, Graver was unable to establish a successful striking partnership with Arthur Rowley.
He only played 12 games before the end of the season, scoring only one more goal. Then, after a mere seven months at Filbert Street, he was transferred back to Lincoln City for only £14,000.
This seemed to represent a huge loss for Leicester City. However the directors’ minutes reveal that this potential loss was largely offset by the fact that City still owed £12,000 to Lincoln City for Graver’s transfer to Filbert Street and this debt was cancelled.
Graver later played for Stoke City and Boston United before returning to Sincil Bank for a third spell, eventually becoming Lincoln City’s all-time top scorer with a total of 150 goals.
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