Former England footballer in safe hands in Kirklees

Kirklees resident 86-year-old Colin Grainger is your average care patient – only he scored two goals against Brazil on his England debut and once shared a stage with The Beatles as a singer.

Mr Grainger came into our care on 9 March 2020, following a lengthy stay in hospital due to complex health issues.

We carried out a routine visit to Mr Grainger at his home in Skelmanthorpe on 12 March 2020 to complete an assessment of his care needs.

He lives alone after his wife sadly recently passed away and needs the support of Kirklees Council care workers for everyday tasks usually done by his family – who are unable to visit him during the current lockdown period.

Not your average patient

During this routine visit, however, our care staff realised that Mr Grainger was not your average patient. When asked what his hobbies were, he casually said he likes watching sport as he used to be a professional footballer.

He went on to reveal that he played for England and club sides Leeds United and Sheffield United, alongside footballing greats such as Bobby Charlton (England) and Billy Bremner (Leeds United).

In fact, he made his England debut against Brazil at Wembley in 1956, aged 22, and scored twice in a 4-2 win, playing in a team which featured football legend Stanley Mathews.

As a footballer he played as an outside left and had a 16-year career in the Football League from 1950 to 1966. Other clubs he played for include Sunderland, Port Vale, Doncaster Rovers and Macclesfield Town.

He won seven caps for England, scoring three goals – with the other coming against West Germany in a famous 1-3 away win for England in Berlin.

The Singing Winger

That is not where Colin’s talents end, however. He went on to tell care workers that he enjoys singing and actually sang on the club land circuit after his football career. He even once shared a stage with The Beatles, and showed council staff the book he has written about his life as a footballer and singer – titled “The Singing Winger”.

In safe hands

He is close to his family and has two children and several grandchildren who visit him throughout the week usually to take him out shopping or for meals and hopes to regain his independence to be able to do this again after the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Grainger has improved well since leaving hospital but has been low in mood after losing his wife recently, not being able to see family and friends and the fact that there is no football on the TV which he is especially missing.

Thank you

His family have thanked our care team for all their support in helping to lift his mood and enabling him to regain his former independence and supporting him with Physiotherapy exercises. The team have also completed tasks which would normally be done by the family such as cleaning, changing bedding, laundry and putting shopping away.

During lockdown some council staff have been redeployed to different areas of the organisation to support the services under most pressure and in most demand.

Andrew Crow is usually a Team Leader within Adult Social Care but is spending time on the frontline until everything gets back to normal.

Andrew has been visiting mainly the male service users. He has spent a lot of time chatting to Mr Grainger about football, showed him how to download old football games and has sourced tickets of games Mr Grainger played in on eBay, printed them off and laminated them for him.

Mr Grainger said: ‘I thank everyone for the work and care they have provided to me, this has got me back on track after losing my wife and having pneumonia and has enabled me to get back to normal life and look forward.

“I look forward every day to seeing one of the team coming down the drive, they are always so kind, cheerful and encouraging, I really don’t know what I would have done without them.”


Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said: “I was amazed when I heard that we have such a footballing legend who is in our care. Colin has achieved so much as a footballer and I know there will be many out there who will wish him the very best of health.

“I’m honoured that our staff are able to help someone like Colin who has achieved things the rest of us can only dream of, but the compassion shown to him is the same shown to all in our care.

“This is just one example of the kindness our dedicated care staff show on a daily basis. No matter who you are, you will get the very best of care and compassion from all our carers who are doing a fantastic job in very challenging and difficult circumstances.

“Throughout this tough and testing period we’re in, our frontline key workers have been heroes in the way they have continuously put others first.

“I hope that Colin and all the other people in our care will be able to see their families again very soon but until then, people like Andrew, and our other amazing staff, will continue to do all they can to help and even put a smile on their faces.”


  • I live in Shat and involved with the local junior football club. If Colin needs any help or support would love to help out if anyone can advise how we can do this. PS I have his book I need signing! Thanks

  • ambreenkirklees

    Hi Rob, we’ll put you in touch with colleagues who can advise how you can do this. Thanks for the interest in Colin’s story!

  • Not quite old enough to remember his two goals on his debut in 1956 vs Brazil, a team which went onto win the World Cup two years later. I do remember his later career, particularly at Sunderland and his singing career.

  • As one of many blades living in and around Skelmanthorpe, I can attest to the fact that he was a great footballer especially when he played at Bramall Lane. The last time I saw him was at an evening game in about 1960. He was playing left wing for Sunderland at the time.
    Roger West

  • Remember Colin playing for Leeds alongside the likes of Jack Chalton , Billy Bremner, Bobby Collins to name a few. Also worked with him on the club circuit a great act /Guy. Regards Glenys and Mann.

  • Robert Dearnley

    I remember him scoring 2 goals against Brazil so that makes me an oldie all the best Colin.

  • Hi there,

    What an amazing story! My name is Rob Clegg and I’m the archivist for Kirklees Council (normally) based within Huddersfield Library. It’s my job to preserve the unique recorded heritage of the district and I would love the chance to speak to Colin about preserving a copy of his book and his wonderful stories within the archives for current and future generations to enjoy. I would be very grateful if you could please get in touch with me via to explore this possibility.

    Many thanks in anticipation!

    Rob Clegg,
    Kirklees Archivist

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.