This week sees the release of Issue 4 of A City United and one of the lead articles is an exclusive interview with former Lincoln keeper Peter Grotier. To whet your appetite (and maybe make you go out and buy the magazine), here is a brief profile on Grotier.
London-born Grotier signed for West Ham as a youth in 1966, a highly rated keeper that looked to have a big future. In the summer which brought a West Ham trio to the world’s attention, it must have seemed as though the world was at his feet. However, by 1974 he had failed to regularly feature for West Ham, making just 54 appearances. Eventually he lost his place to Mervyn Day and made the tough decision to go out on loan. With just one subs place back then, loaning players wasn’t as common as it is now and the decision was a big one for young Grotier to make.
He spent six weeks under Graham Taylor at Sincil Bank. It was the 1974/75 season and Grotier made quite an impression. John Kennedy had not long retired and as the season approached Taylor only had Jimmy Gordon between the sticks. Rather harshly, Gordon kept a clean sheet in his Lincolnshire Cup debut as Boston were beaten 3-0, but Taylor still brought in Grotier on loan. He kept just one clean sheet during the loan spell, a 5-0 thumping of Exeter at Sincil Bank. Taylor knew that, despite the goals going in at both ends, he had his man. The problem was that West Ham wanted a club-record fee of £16,666 for their asset, they didn’t really want to sell. Lincoln were on the up but not flush, so Taylor turned to the people of Lincoln.
He made a public appeal to help fund the purchase of Grotier. The foundations of that record-breaking 1976 side were already in place, Branfoot, Leigh, Ellis, Cooper, Ward, Graham, Booth, Harding and Smith were all already on board. Grotier was almost the final piece of the puzzle. The city rallied round, fans dug deep, businesses did the same and eventually the money was raised to bring him to Lincoln permanently. Around the same time he conceded five as we lost 5-0 at Cambridge!
Grotier went on to make 134 consecutive appearances for Lincoln, ever-present in the record-breaking 1975-76 season. He was ddeservedly named in the PFA Division Four Team of the Year in both 1974/75 and 1975/76, as well as nominated by the Daily Express for their League Division 4 ‘Footballer of the Year’ award.
In 1976/77 he even scored for City, penalties against Grimsby and Scunthorpe in County Cup matches. He then conceded three in the final against Boston, a game that saw future England managers Graham Taylor and Howard Wilkinson in either dugout. He did miss three games that season, young Gordon getting to play against Preston and Chester as well as a League Cup match against Doncaster. His chances were limited though as Grotier became the first name on the team sheet for City.
In 1977/78 he was back on the goal scoring trail another County Cup penalty to earn a 1-1 draw with Scunthorpe United. He missed just two games again, but by 1978/79 Lincoln were collapsing. He had a significant spell out injured as Chris Turner and Ian Turner took over, not enjoying his football under Willie Bell.
By 1980 a new era was being ushered in at Sincil Bank, Colin Murphy had the helm as Tony Cunningham and Mick Harford picked up where John Ward and Percy Freeman had left off. Grotier had been made captain, but injury had affected his sharpness and both Colin and assistant Lennie Lawrence wanted some fresh blood.
He had made a total of 233 League appearances plus 30 in various cups but, at still only 30 years old, Peter moved to Cardiff for £25,000. He played just a handful of times at Ninian Park before signing for Grimsby Town. In 1985 he had a brief spell as caretaker manager at Grimsby before retiring from football.
In the magazine, Dominic Picksley speaks to a prickly Grotier about his time at Lincoln City. He talks about Willie Bell, Graham Taylor and how he felt about the fans buying him. He also speaks fondly of he people of Lincoln, saying; “I did not miss the football, but the Lincoln people I did miss. But you should never look back, great times, great team and great players will always be my memory of Lincoln City.”