Peter Grotier – a Dom Picksley interview

DP: There were also plenty of ‘characters’ for City back then, the likes of Dennis Booth, Terry Cooper, Sam Ellis, Percy Freeman, etc… Who stood out amongst the crowd and do you have any particular funny memories of your old Imps teammates?

PG: We were an excellent social team as well as an excellent playing team. At the right times we all socialised together. All the players had different personalities and were great characters, too many funny moments, most of them not for print.

DP: The 1976-77 season in Division Three was a pretty decent one, with the Imps finishing ninth, just seven points off third, but was there a sense of disappointment at not achieving back-to-back promotions or were you happy with how the season had gone at this higher level?

PG: It was never felt that we under achieved, but personally I felt the board should have invested more on players, both bringing new in and rewarding the promotion team better than they did.

DP: Of course, the big disappointment came in June when Taylor left the club to join Watford. As one of the major reasons for you joining the club and after his success with the Imps, just how did you take this news? It must have been a huge blow to all associated with the club, especially with him dropping back down into the Fourth Division, although this decision was more than justified with the success he was to have with them.

PG: As mentioned above, spending on new players was a major factor in Graham leaving. With investment and a good manager, look what happened at Watford, that could and should have been Lincoln City. Personally, losing Graham initially was not a worry, but that was soon to change.

DP: George Kerr was named Taylor’s successor – how did this go down with the players? After losing five of his first six games, it looked like the rot had set in early and he was gone by Christmas that year. Was it a mistake by the club to appoint him? And what was the general attitude towards him from the players?

PG: I had total respect for George, but he had massive boots to fill. The mistake the club made was not the appointment of George Kerr, but letting Ellis and Booth go to Watford and replacing with inferior signings. I put no blame on George, the board must take the blame.

DP: Then in came Willie Bell, who steadied the ship a little, although an eventual finishing position of 16th must have been a disappointment. But on a personal level, you must have been delighted to be crowned Lincoln’s Player of the Year?

PG: I have nothing to say about the appointment of Willie Bell, only that it was another major error by the board. Getting player of the year gave me no pleasure, but thanks to everyone that voted for me.

DP: The wheels completely fell off the next season – just two wins by March saw the writing on the wall well before the end of the 1978-79 campaign. Just how had things gone so wrong under Bell? The loss of key players must have contributed to the downfall? After playing successfully under Taylor, just how different – and bad – was it under Kerr and Bell, two managers who are ranked up there as the worst in the club’s history?

PG: No blame at all on George, total blame to Mr Bell in my opinion.

DP: Things barely picked up after Colin Murphy was appointed – did you think he was going to go the same way as Kerr and Bell, or was there something about him that led you to believe he could turn things around?

PG: Colin was a better appointment, although we did not see eye to eye. I was injured when he arrived after having a knee operation. He made me club captain, which I was very proud to take on. Colin’s assistant was Lennie Lawrence and from my first training session with him I could see he did not fancy me as a goalkeeper and to be fair my fitness was not 100 per cent.

DP: Lincoln made a solid start to the 1979-80 campaign, but then you joined Cardiff on loan before signing for the Welsh side permanently – the arrival of David Felgate obviously hurried up your departure from the club – you must have been sad to leave after playing over 260 games for the Imps, which included 134 consecutive outings, and being a part of one of the greatest City sides ever? Why do you think Murphy favoured Felgate over you?

PG: In my football career, my decisions were always pretty good, until I decided on the move to Cardiff. 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. Lincoln will always be my second home.

DP: You also scored three goals for Lincoln, albeit in Lincs County Cup games – did you ever fancy plying your trade further up the pitch (as future City keeper Stuart Naylor once did)?

PG: Three penalties was enough. I was never fit enough to play up front.

DP: You then spent five years at Cardiff and a short spell at Grimsby, without achieving anything like the success you did with Lincoln. Why do you think you achieved so much at City?

PG: I was there at the right time.

DP: What are your greatest memories as a Lincoln City player, and what similarities do you see between Danny Cowley and Graham Taylor? They have both hugely galvanised the club and do you think Cowley will go on to have such a great career as Taylor did?

PG: Twice being voted best Fourth Division goalkeeper by my fellow professionals and the Daily Telegraph player of the year will always be stand out memories. Of course, also the championship-winning season and being involved with great men with excellent football abilities. Not knowing the Cowley brothers and not seeing a game live I cannot comment on the similarities, but speaking with people who had seen our great team play and the current team play, have said that they see things that are very similar.

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  1. It wasn’t Willie Bell’s fault – according to him, it was mine. I used to write a column in the matchday programme, but Oor Wullie, had me removed because I was undermining the morale of the younger players. I seem to remember he got religion after leaving City and decamped to preach in South America or somewhere like that.

  2. I was Bradford that Tuesday night in 75. We were rubbish the first 45 mins but by God after Peter saved the penalty early second half we blitzed them with amazing football I haven’t seen the likes of since! Great memories!

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