Graham Rees, who had joined Exeter City from junior football in South Wales, had made nearly 350 league appearances and scored a then-club record 85 league goals when he eventually left the club after a twelve-year association. A member of the 1964 promotion-winning team, and often playing as a part-time professional whilst working as an accountant, Graham’s rampaging performances had lived long in the memories of a generation of City supporters when he was inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2017.
Graham had just turned seventeen when, after a successful trial, he joined Exeter City from youth football in his native Pontypridd. As one of a number of players who had moved to the club from South Wales in those years, Graham made good progress after signing as a part-time professional and soon made his debut at Norwich City on 15 September 1954. Playing just five times during 1954/55, whilst continuing with his accountancy training, Graham remained on the fringes of the first-team during the following three seasons as he made 20, 23 and 25 appearances whilst bringing his total tally of league goals to eight.
Having already had an unsuccessful trial for the Wales under-23 team, all was to change during City’s first campaign in the new Division Four as Graham, moving to the old inside-right position and missing just three games, scored 22 league goals in 1958/59 as City fell just short of promotion. With Ted Calland scoring 27 that season, the roles were reversed the following year when Graham finished as league top-scorer with 17 strikes.
Top-scorer again in 1960/61 - with fourteen goals - Graham had now scored 53 league goals in three seasons which, in the final analysis, would represent around three-fifths of his career total for the club. Carrying on, but scoring less-frequently from the wing, Graham added another ten goals in the following two seasons before embarking on City’s memorable 1963/64 campaign. With City making a solid, if unspectacular, start to the season the arrival of Alan Banks invigorated the team and - as the side went from strength-to-strength - Graham’s six goals in 45 league appearances played an important part as the Grecians clinched the fourth promotion spot.
With Exeter City’s all-time leading League goalscorer being Harold Houghton with a relatively-modest 79 goals, Graham now found himself just two short of the record and, having equalled Harold’s total against Colchester United on 3 October 1964, he set his own mark when netting in the Barnsley game a fortnight later. Adding a further four goals that season, Graham was to score his final league goal for Exeter City - his 85th - against Scunthorpe United on 19 February 1966. Appearing finally against York City in April 1966 Graham, still not twenty-nine, left the club at the end of the season to sign for Yeovil Town and to concentrate on his accountancy career. Later spending six seasons with Bridgwater Town, Graham eventually returned to South Wales to work as an accountant for Cardiff University.
Although his record-haul was eventually surpassed by Alan Banks, Graham remained in the memories of a generation of supporters as a rampaging winger who was often City’s danger man. For this, and for his part in the Grecians’ near-miss in 1959 and eventual promotion success in 1964, Graham Rees was inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2017.