By Alan Finn
In 1975, Sligo would invite two ex-Cardiff players on trial – Graham Fox and Chris Rutherford.
Graham and Chris arrived in search of a new opportunity. Like many incoming players of their generation, the sheep grazing on the Showgrounds pitch raised their eyebrows, particularly for a pair of defenders who find themselves far removed from playing football with the Cardiff reserves in Highbury, Stamford Bridge and White Hart Lane. Nonetheless, they were not deterred from giving things a chance here.
“Myself and Chris came over and decided to give it a go. I had spoken to a couple of clubs in England but I really liked what Billy was doing here. We came in for a friendly with Celtic and we were up against players like Kenny Dalglish and Danny McGrain. I remember The Showgrounds being packed, the atmosphere being electric and the two of us decided we were going to stay after that.”
While settling into new surroundings doesn’t come without it’s challenges, Graham recalled the hospitality of Mr and Mrs Tommy Callaghan who offered accommodation to him and Chris as they went about bringing Billy Sinclair’s vision for the club to fruition.
Billy would spend two seasons working towards something special. Billy entrusted Graham with captaining the club towards the 1977 title, but it is a responsibility he is extremely humble about as he sang the praises of his teammates, attributing one of the keys to their success being the off the field togetherness being easily transferred to their performances.
“Billy made me captain just towards the end of the season before we won the league. I took the opportunity in my stride, I was delighted at the responsibility of being captain. I always liked to lead, even at Cardiff, I always wanted the rest of the team to act like captains, I didn’t want to be always telling players where to go and what to do, it was a combined effort of a team of captains.”
For the full interview with Graham, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!
Alternatively, you can purchase an online edition here