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Paul Futcher (25 September 1956 – 23 November 2016) was an English professional footballer who had a distinguished career as defender in the English Football League, for England under 21s and as manager of several non-league clubs.
|Date of birth||25 September 1956|
|Place of birth||Chester, England|
|Date of death||23 November 2016(aged 60)|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|1995–1997||Gresley Rovers (player)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
He is regarded as a club legend by Grimsby Town who signed him at the age of 35 when he was apparently past his best. He went on to be described as one of the club's greatest ever players. Prior to his time with Grimsby he had enjoyed lengthy spells with Luton Town, Oldham Athletic and Barnsley as well as playing for Chester, Manchester City, Derby County and Halifax Town. After leaving Grimsby in 1994 he played for Dundalk before moving into management.
Futcher was the defensive half of twin brothers. His brother was centre-forward Ron.
Paul began his career with hometown club Chester, who he made his debut for as a 16-year-old against Cambridge United in March 1973. This came just a fortnight after his older brother Graham had played his final game for the club and seven months before Ron made his debut for the Blues. Futcher quickly turned professional and had made 20 Football League appearances when Luton Town snapped him up for £100,000 in the summer of 1974. Ron joined him on the journey south, where Paul was to play more than 140 games and won ten England under 21 caps.
Paul was the most expensive defender in England when he became Manchester City's record signing for £350,000 on 1 June 1978. Paul replaced club stalwart Tommy Booth in the side which failed to live up to expectations and as the major new signing he attracted criticism. Booth won his place back and on 1 July 1979 Paul left Maine Road for a fee of £150,000 and joined Second Division Oldham Athletic.
Futcher had twice been chosen for the England squad and each time a road accident had put paid to him fulfilling the invitation.
Paul was signed by Grimsby Town from Halifax Town reserves, aged 34, by Alan Buckley for £10,000 as a short term replacement for Andy Tillson. He went on to be a fans favourite for 5 seasons, winning the Supporters Player of the Year twice in that time. Then his son Ben Futcher joined the club for their League Two play-off final season of 2005–06 before he left for Peterborough United.
During his time at Grimsby, Futcher was held in high esteem by the club's supporters. Following the arrival of Brian Laws as manager and a poor performance in a match against Oldham Athletic, he departed in 1994, but remains thought of as one of the club's best-ever players.
Management and coachingEdit
Futcher led Rovers to the Dr. Martens Premier Division championship in 1997; they were not promoted to the Conference because their ground failed to meet Conference standards. During this time, they regularly played against now-EFL club Burton Albion, often beating them handily.
The Sandgrounders narrowly lost to Cheltenham Town, and the remainder of the former Manchester City man's Haig Avenue tenure was blemished by successful relegation scraps.
Futcher was unable to save the Robins from relegation to the Northern Premier League. He subsequently failed to motivate the squad (using nearly 50 players in 10 months) and left in December 2005.
Personal life and deathEdit
Futcher's twin brother Ron played in the Football League as well as being a top scorer in the North American Soccer League; and their older brother Graham also played professionally at Chester City. Paul's son Ben has extensive Football League experience and he is the cousin of Danny Murphy.
On 23 November 2016 Futcher died after a short battle with cancer. Former club Grimsby Town announced Futchers passing on the same day with their Official Website describing him as "one of the greatest footballers ever to have graced Blundell Park", also adding "It is impossible to describe the complete admiration we had for him, or the feeling inside as his wonderful abilities dominated matches. He was a complete one-off. Even though you had watched him come away with the ball in the most desperate of circumstances, you could never quite work out how he had done it! He was nothing short of a genius!
A minutes silence was observed at Grimsby's next fixture a 3–2 away defeat at Crawley Town. Whilst Grimsby also announced they would hold a minutes applause for him in their next home game against Portsmouth.
As a playerEdit
As a player managerEdit
- Southern League Premier Division winner: 1996–97
- Paul Futcher at Sporting-Heroes.net
- Official Grimsby Town site Paul Futcher profile
- "The Paul Futcher Fund". Melanoma UK. Retrieved 13 September 2017.