Looking back: John Gregson

Date of birth: 17.5.39, Born: Skelmersdale, Lancashire, Height: 5ft 9in

Position: Right winger

City apps: League: 31 (5), goals: 3, FA & League Cups: 6, goals: 0, Total: 37 (5), goals: 3

John Gregson started out with his local club Skelmersdale United in the Lancashire Combination before joining First Division Blackpool where he spent five seasons being kept out of the first team by no less a player than the legendary Stanley Matthews.

After playing only 3 league games and scoring one goal for the Seasiders Gregson joined Chester in May 1962, staying with them for just one year, making 32 league appearances and scoring 5 goals. He then moved on to Shrewsbury Town, appearing a total of 56 times in the Third Division and scoring 6 goals. He moved on again in November 1964, remaining in the Third Division to join Mansfield Town for £12,000.

After a total of 80 games and 5 goals for the Stags Gregson succeeded his former Mansfield team-mate Geoff Anderson on the right wing for City as one of several players signed by manager Ron Gray prior to the 1967/68 season as part of the new look Red Imps.

Upon joining the Imps Gregson was described as the sort of player who could beat a full back either on the wing or inside, and he played a full part in the epic run to the League Cup Fourth Round meeting with Derby County. In the away encounter with the Rams he was described as one of the stars, particularly when he raced past the full back to put over a precise centre for Lewis Thom head the equaliser and set up the replay which drew a record crowd to Sincil Bank.

Apart from sharing the name of one British film star of the 1950s, Gregson, with his mop of blond hair also shared the looks of another one – at least from a distance. As the Nottingham Evening Post’s reporter commented after the game with Derby, John Gregson bore ‘a striking resemblance to UNCLE agent Ilya Kuryakin’ – a reference to the popular TV series at the time ‘The Man From UNCLE’ starring David McCallum.

Gregson was a regular in the side until the following March when with another battle against re-election looming Ron Gray brought in three new players including right winger Gordon Hughes who had played for Derby in the League Cup games. With the advent of the experienced Second Division player Gregson was out of the starting lineup, making only a further handful of substitute appearances, not even regaining his place when Hughes missed a couple of games through injury.

It was therefore no real surprise when Gregson was released in the summer of 1968 and like so many players leaving City in the 1960s dropped into non-league football with Cambridge United. However, he found himself back in the Football League after two seasons when as Southern League champions for the second year in a row Cambridge were elected in place of Bradford (Park Avenue).

With his time at Cambridge hit by injury Gregson missed their first ever Football League game in August 1970 which happened to be against City but was in the side that won 1-0 at Sincil Bank two months later, by then playing in midfield. He made a total of 32 Football League appearances for Cambridge over the remainder of the season, scoring one goal before his career was ended by injury problems.

His Football League career totalled 235 appearances with 23 goals scored.

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