HISTORY OF T&MUFC
September 2023 was a terrible month for the older supporters of the club.
Following on from the news that our commanding centre half from the great Terrors Team of the late 1950s early 1960s, Brian Bennett has passed, was the equally sad news that we also lost Albert Grainger within a short space of time. His contribution to this great team cannot be understated.
Albert had forged quite a reputation in the mid 1950s with some outstanding performances for Ilford, and in December 1957 he came south to join Tooting who were fast becoming the strongest amateur team in South London. He made his debut for our reserve team away at Woking on the 7th December, scoring twice in our 7-2 victory. He was then drafted into the first team and made an immediate impact scoring in our 6-1 defeat of Dulwich Hamlet.
The team in the 1957/58 season that went on to win the Isthmian League for the first time, contained two outstanding wingers, Norman Williams and Johnnie Blizzard. Although Albert is known as a right winger his first appearances in the team were at inside left. Playing alongside the legendary centre forward Paddy Hasty and as a foil for the English international inside right, Dave Bumpstead, led to Albert scoring 15 goals in only 22 appearances.
The following season saw the two wingers leaving the club and the signing of Denzil Flanagan the ex-Arsenal left winger. Albert then took up the right-wing position and continued scoring at the rate of one goal every second game. A natural goal scorer, his great asset was his speed. I would certainly rate him in the top five of the fastest players ever to play for the club. He of course went on to win every club honour in the game, except for an Amateur Cup winners medal. He scored the first goal in the 2-2 draw at home to Nottingham Forest.
Albert scoring against Horsham in 1958
During his time at the club he played at the City Ground Nottingham, Stamford Bridge, Craven Cottage, Highbury and the Den at Millwall, making considerable contribution to Tooting’s impressive collection of trophies. He remained extremely loyal to the club and apart from a short spell in season 1960/1961, when he returned to Ilford, gave sterling service over 8 seasons. In total he made over 250 appearances, scoring 125 goals a phenomenal total for a player who made most of his appearances as a right winger.
A few years ago, we held a reunion at the club for the original Terrors and Albert and his wife Mollie travelled from their home in Felixstowe to be with us. It was a great pleasure to be in his company. He seemed so humble for such a great player and it was easy to see why he was one of the most popular members of the team. After the function Albert wrote to me and said ‘In a reflective mood I enjoyed my football years and was lucky to have been a member of a good side that was a joy to play in. In the process of enjoying myself I didn’t realise that the team was giving pleasure to others watching. You don’t think of these things at that age, do you!’. Those supporters lucky enough to have seen Albert play will never forget him. For younger supporters enjoy his first goal against Forest on You Tube.
Our sincere condolences go to Albert’s family.