Date of birth: 25.7.38
Height: 6ft 1in
Position: Centre half
League: 99(1), 1 goal
FA & League Cups: 9
Total: 108(1), 1 goal
Terence George Branston captained his school football team in Rugby before taking up an engineering apprenticeship, and it was while playing for British Thomson Houston in a local league that he came to the attention of Northampton Town, joining them as an amateur in 1957. Playing for the A team, he managed to take part in Thursday afternoon practice matches by telling his employer that he had regular hospital appointments for an ear infection. He turned professional with the Cobblers in October 1958 at the age of 20 but did not make his first team debut until 1960.
A solid, uncompromising centre half, Branston was part of Northampton’s five- year rise from Division Four to Division One, but a single season in the top flight was followed by two immediate relegations back to Division Three. Branston was then released on a free transfer in the summer of 1967 after appearing in a total of 271 league and cup games for Northampton, scoring two goals.
Joining Luton Town, he was immediately made club captain and led the Hatters to the 1967/68 Fourth Division championship, playing in every game and scoring five goals. Two years later Branston skippered Luton to a further promotion and immediately following that during the summer of 1970 he was targeted by Lincoln City as one of three players they wanted for a push for promotion. New manager Bert Loxley, having replaced the dismissed Ron Gray quickly signed two of these, striker Percy Freeman and utility man Derek Trevis but Branston initially turned down the move.
Now aged 32 the experienced centre half was seen as a replacement for long-serving defender Jim Grummett who it was reported was ready to leave the club although not having asked for a transfer.
Branston started the new season in Luton’s first team, with their first Division Two game being a 4-2 defeat, but was then transferred to Lincoln at the beginning of September for a fee of £5,000 after appearing in a total of 101 league and cup games for the Hatters, scoring 10 goals. He made his first appearance for the Imps in a 4-1 win at Barrow on 12th September 1970, immediately replacing Grummett in the side for what manager Bert Loxley described as ‘a useful, if unspectacular debut’. His first home game saw a 2-1 defeat to Southend United but this was followed by three wins in a row as City reached a season-high of 6th place in the league table. However, two defeats then followed in the league with Branston involved at the centre of incidents in a controversial match with Cambridge United which saw the league newcomers have two men sent off. With Branston substituted during the match by Bert Loxley he was left out of the side for the next match as Grummett was recalled.
There was some resentment among supporters about the way Branston had been shoehorned into the side in place of the popular Grummett, and there had certainly seemed to be no benefit in the breaking up of the central defensive partnership with Ray Harford that had served City so well for most of the last three seasons. It was also true that Branston had not looked in the best of form, perhaps due to not having settled in the area and travelling in from his home in Rugby. Loxley appealed in his programme notes for fans to give him a chance to ‘show the form which we know he is capable of’.
Branston played in just one of the next six games, which saw a 3-0 defeat at promotion challengers Bournemouth. In a defensive line-up which achieved a goalless draw at runaway leaders Notts County it was long-serving reserve Tom Brooks who was preferred as one of three centre backs. He returned to the side against his old club Northampton at Sincil Bank, partnering Ray Harford as Grummett filled a midfield role, but a 3-1 defeat saw him out again for the visit of Barrow in the FA Cup. With Graham Taylor and Brooks both injured Branston then found himself in the unfamiliar position of right back for a couple of games which produced a home win over Darlington and a draw at Hartlepool before losing his place to the fit again Taylor.
After five games on the side-lines Branston then returned at right back, Taylor moving over to the left as George Peden became the latest of a string of City players to suffer injury. With Derek Trevis, captain from the start of the season asking to be relieved of the post, Branston was appointed in his place with manager Bert Loxley pointing out that he had led both his previous clubs to promotion and hoping he could at least steer the 16th-placed Imps to the top half of the table. However, in Branston’s fifth game as captain he became the latest victim of an injury-hit season for City forcing him out of the side for two home defeats to promotion-chasing Notts County and Bournemouth, but then yielding his place at full back to the fit-again Peden and finding only a place on the subs’ bench under new manager David Herd.
After a remarkable 5-4 home defeat by York City Branston was restored to the side after nine games, playing at centre half in the absence of both Harford and Grummett, but a 3-0 home defeat by bottom club Barrow saw City sink into the re-election zone. He then kept his place for the remainder of the season, sometimes playing alongside both Harford and Grummett, but too many drawn games saw City once again have to apply for re-election to the league, Branston having played 26 games in an injury-hit season.