‘A trendsetter’ – the story of Colchester United’s very first black footballer
However by the time he ended up being the first black player to represent the U’s very first group in the late seventies, Trevor Lee had already experienced his reasonable share of highs and lows.
This month marks the 42nd anniversary of Lee becoming the very first black player to score for Colchester at senior level when he netted in their 4-0 win over Leatherhead in December 1978, in the FA Cup.
And the forward had currently come a long method, prior to his arrival at Layer Road.
Having begun as a junior at Fulham, he was launched without coming up to the first string and played for Surrey Senior citizen League sides Cobham and Epsom and Ewell, whom he helped reach the FA Vase Final in 1975.
Regretfully for Lee, underdogs Hoddesdon Town managed a shock and won 2-1 in front of a Wembley crowd of simply under 10,000.
But he had actually revealed in his time at Epsom and Ewell that he can dipping into a higher level and in October 1975, the Lewisham-born forward signed for department three side Millwall.
Bigotry was swarming among football crowds in the seventies and Lions fans had a track record for being amongst the even worse; it was certainly a brave move by Lee to sign up with the East London club.
However it would appear the Millwall advocates didn’t aim any racist abuse at Lee till he later on appeared at The Den, in a Colchester shirt.
Lee rapidly ended up being a first-team routine at Millwall, assisting them win promo to the second tier.
He shone the following season in division two, helping them clinch a comfortable mid-table finish and reach the League Cup quarter-finals.
The 1977/78 season was left rewarding for Lee as Millwall flirted with relegation and after losing his location, he signed for department 3 clothing Colchester for ₤ 15,000 in November 1978.
The price looked an imagine a 24-year-old who had more than held his own in division 2 – and so it proved.
Lee ended up being the very first black player to appear for Colchester in a Friday night department 3 game at Layer Road on November 3, 1978.
The match was viewed by a crowd of 4,564 as the U’s beat Plymouth Argyle 2-1 with objectives from Bobby Gough and Ray Bunkell.
Trevor made the number 10 t-shirt his own and played in 27 League games scoring 11 objectives.
He also made five FA Cup appearances and he scored his very first Colchester goal in a 4-0 FA Cup second-round win at house to non-league Leatherhead.
By the 1979/80 season, Lee was securely developed as one of Colchester’s crucial gamers.
His team-mate Steve Wignall, in his autobiography ‘You Can Have The Chips’, explained him as “rather a shy lad however a terrific professional athlete.”
Lee missed just 3 of Colchester’s 46 League games and was scoring regularly striking the net 17 times in the league.
He assisted Colchester to 5th spot in division 3 but the awful face of bigotry raised its head and it took place at a ground where Lee had actually formerly been honored, The Den, in December 1979.
A Colchester fan (and there can’t have actually been a lot of them in the 6,821 crowd) commenting about the match on the U’sual ColchesterUnited.com website wrote: “The abuse meted out to Trevor Lee from much of the Millwall fans was extremely undesirable.”
Lee scored the first goal in the eighth minute of a 2-1 victory.
Lee started the 1980/81 season as a routine and appeared in 25 League video games plus one replacement appearance, scoring 7 goals up till Colchester’s loss to Watford in the FA Cup 3rd round on January 3, 1981.
The cash-strapped U’s were plainly going to make no money from a financially rewarding FA Cup run and they had gotten a tempting offer of ₤ 90,000 from Gillingham for Lee’s signature.
This seemed too great to deny for a player who had cost just ₤ 15,000 and Lee signed up with Gillingham.
Lee was never ever a respected goal scorer however had Colchester hung on to him they might have avoided slipping into 22nd place and transfer to department four.
Gillingham were in 21st location when Lee signed for them and they increased as Colchester dropped.
Lee played 18 games for Gillingham scoring 6 times, how Colchester could have done with those goals.
He went on to play for the likes of Leyton Orient, Bournemouth (where he played alongside George Finest), Cardiff City, Northampton Town and Fulham.
Beyond football, he found work as a locksmith and after that did voluntary work for The British Heart Foundation, before becoming a carer for his sibling.
With thanks to Expense Hern, co-author of the book ‘Football’s Black Leaders’, for his assist with this post.