Former West Brom midfielder Graham Lovett dies aged 70
Former West Brom midfielder Graham Lovett has passed away, aged 70.
Lovett, who was born in Sheldon, featured in Albion's famous 1968 FA Cup winning team alongside Jeff Astle - who scored the only goal of the game.
Spending a brief spell at Southampton on-loan, Lovett made 141 appearances for the Baggies, scoring nine goals, but saw his footballing career hampered drastically through injuries sustained off the pitch in two serious car crashes.
He also went on to appear for Worcester City and Solihull Borough before retiring. Following his playing career, he went on to work at the Express & Star.
Joining Albion straight from school, wing-half Lovett his debut aged just 17 in a 2-0 home defeat to Chelsea on December 5th 1964.
He properly established himself in the Baggies team the following season, playing 47 times, scoring four goals, and playing in the first leg of Albion's League Cup final victory over West Ham United.
That form continued into the following campaign but was cruelly ended just before Christmas, when a serious car accident left him in hospital with a broken neck and fears that he would never play again.
Lovett watched the 1967 FA Cup final in his hospital bed but 12 months later was at Wembley.
In a display of total faith from manager Alan Ashman and in only his ninth appearance of that season, he was given the key role of shackling Everton's world class, attacking left-back, Ray Wilson, as Albion recorded a 1-0 win to lift the cup.
But the fates remained unkind and in the summer of 1969, Lovett was involved in another car crash when his vehicle was hit by a bus, travelling on the wrong side of the road, in Quinton. This time, he suffered a collapsed lung, broken ribs and a broken thighbone.
Bravely he fought back once more. But although there were more Albion appearances to come, particularly in a sustained run in the side in 1970/71, he couldn't quite recapture his previous form.
He had a brief spell on loan at Southampton in November 1971 before being released by the Albion in the summer of 1972, after 157 games and nine goals, along with the little matter of two cup wins.
He dropped into non-league and eventual retirement. After spells living abroad, Lovett returned to the UK and became a regular at The Hawthorns and at various club dinners and functions over recent times.