Not many players write themselves into club folklore off the back of a loan spell. But Giuliano Grazioli did just that with us in early 1998. In his own words, we could probably tell you “all he did was score that goal” in the FA Cup against Newcastle United. And it’d make our lives easier as we write this. There is, however, much more to Grazioli and his time with Boro’ than one magical moment that etched our club’s name into history.
Graz actually joined us in late 1997; his debut coming in a rather mundane two-goal loss at Rushden & Diamonds on Boxing Day. His first goal for us came in his fourth game for us, which just so happened to be the decisive strike in our FA Cup win at Swindon Town. As you know, scoring is a matter of timing. And Graz had that acute sense down to a tee. He’d go on, after Newcastle, to score eight goals in 17 appearances.
Hardly a strike rate worth overlooking, is it.
Giuliano Grazioli: After Boro’
After becoming a household name at Boro’, Graz returned to parent club Posh. One year later, he was on the move to Swindon Town – ironic in the Alanis Morissette sense. After three years with the Robins, it was onto Bristol Rovers. But his stay here wasn’t going to be a long one. In order to secure Junior Agogo from Barnet, Rovers offered the Bees the services of Graz. And so began another fruitful time in Hertfordshire for the striker.
It was ironic (again, as above) that he’d end up at Barnet for he scored five of Posh’s nine goals in a stonking 1998 win at Underhill. This time, however, he’d be scoring goals for the Bees. And that’s what he did. Topping the Conference scoring charts in 2004-5, his goals powered Cloughie’s side to the title and a return to the Football League. It almost felt like a case of what could’ve been if we’d have got him on a permanent deal.
Injuries started to creep in, though. After keyhole surgery on his knee, he went out on loan to Grays Athletic to get back in the groove. But it didn’t quite work and Barnet allowed him to leave; Braintree Town coming in for him in summer 2008. A month after arriving, he was moving to Dover – turning out for six months before an ongoing head injury forced him to call time on his career. And it’s fair to say it was a successful one at that too.