Writer: Peverell Green
Date:Tuesday August 27 2013
The Where Are They Now series travels back to more recent times with a look at the career of Graham Coughlan.
GRAHAM COUGHLAN - Born 18th November 1974 Dublin, Ireland.
Graham started his football career in Ireland, first with Leinster senior side Cherry Orchard before moving to League of Ireland side Bray Wanderers.
His big opportunity came when he was signed by Premier League Champions Blackburn in 1995; although he spent four seasons at Ewood Park he never made a first team appearance.
In 1997 he was loaned out to Swindon where he made three appearances before returning to Blackburn.
In 1999 Graham was again loaned out, this time to Scottish club Livingston. He made six appearances while on loan and must have impressed them as at the end of the season the move was made permanent.
He spent two successful seasons in Scotland, in both of them he was voted Livingston's Player of the Season so it must have come as a surprise to their fans when he was allowed to move to Argyle on a free transfer.
While at Livingston he made 50 appearances and scored two goals.
Graham made his debut on 11th August 2001 in a 1-0 defeat at home to Shrewsbury.
The next game was a 0-0 draw at Hull; this was followed by another home defeat, this time 2-1 to Rochdale.
There couldn't have been many Argyle fans who were thinking this could be a promotion season, fortunately that was all about to change.
On August Bank Holiday Monday Argyle travelled to Rushden & Diamonds and came away with a 3-2 win, thanks to goals from Mickey Evans, Graham and Brian McGlinchey, it would be another nineteen games before Argyle lost in the league.
Graham's next goal came in a 3-0 win at home to Halifax; he scored the first with Martin Phillips and Lee Hodges also scoring.
The next home game also saw him on the scoresheet when he scored the second in a 2-0 win over Lincoln after David Friio had got the first.
He scored the Argyle consolation goal when they were beaten 2-1 at Scunthorpe to end their long unbeaten run.
He got another goal four days later on Boxing Day in a 2-2 draw at home to Torquay with Ian Stonebridge scoring the second goal.
His next came at the end of January in a comfortable 4-2 beating of Oxford at Home Park.
He scored the first with Lee Hodges and two from Ian Stonebridge ensuring the three points.
A month later Graham scored the first goal in a 2-1 home win over Kidderminster with Paul Wotton also on the scoresheet.
The next Tuesday saw the visit of Devon neighbours Exeter, Argyle's largest crowd for ten years of 16,369 saw them sent home with their tail between their legs after being soundly beaten 3-0, with goals from Steve Adams and a Marino Keith double doing the damage.
In the next game a goal from Graham ensured Argyle came back from Macclesfield with a point in a 1-1 draw.
Leyton Orient came to Home Park and went back to London pointless after an easy Argyle 3-0 win Ian Stonebridge, Graham and Mickey Evans saw another three point added to the Argyle total.
Graham's tenth goal came at Rochdale in a 3-1 win, Marino Keith, Graham and Lee Hodges making sure the travelling fans had a good return journey.
Argyle's last goal of the season was fittingly scored by Graham. 18,517 packed Home Park to see Graham Presented with the Player of the Year trophy and Argyle as crowned as Champions.
Cheltenham were the unfortunate visitors, goals from Jason Bent and Graham saw Argyle win 2-0 to finish the season on a superb 102 points.
Graham ended the season as joint leading scorer with David Friio on eleven goals.
When the PFA team of the season was announced it contained four Argyle players, Roman Larrieu, Paul Wotton, Graham Coughlan and David Friio.
With Argyle back in Division 2 (League 1) they made a good start to the season, after an opening day 4-3 defeat at Mansfield they won their next four games, with Graham scoring in two of them.
His first of the new season came in a 2-1 win at Cheltenham with Paul Wotton scoring the second goal and in the next game the scorers were reversed when Paul got the first and Graham the second in a 2-0 home win over Bristol City.
The pair teamed up for a third time when Argyle drew 2-2 at home to Cardiff, once again Paul scored the first and Graham the second. Graham scored again in a 1-1 draw at home to Barnsley.
His fifth and final goal that season came in a 3-0 win at home to Port Vale, he scored the first, David Norris the second and Paul Wotton sealed an easy win.
Argyle finished the season in a respectable eighth place.
2003-04 strangely enough started in a similar fashion to two years previously. An opening day 2-2 draw at home to Grimsby with goals from Marino Keith and Graham saw Argyle start with a point.
Defeats at Rushden in the league and Colchester in the League Cup, both 2-1, wasn't too promising a start.
Just as in 2001-02 Argyle then went on a run that saw them lose only two games in the next 26.
Graham scored the first in a 3-3 draw at home to Brighton with Ian Stonebridge and David Friio also scoring.
His next came in a 2-0 home win over Barnsley, he scored the first and Mickey Evans the second. On October 11th Tranmere came to Home Park and were thrashed 6-0, it was the start of a goals feast that would see Argyle go to the top of the league.
Four days after Tranmere they beat Bristol City 4-0 in the LDV Vans Trophy, three days later went to second placed Port Vale, for what on paper looked a difficult game.
Goals from Marino Keith, David Friio (2), Steve Adams and Paul Wotton destroyed Vale's unbeaten home record.
The Green Army sensed Argyle were on a roll and the following Tuesday they massed at Hillsborough to see another two goals from David Friio and one from Paul Wotton gave Argyle to an easy 3-1 win and more importantly sit proudly at the top of the table.
Graham scored in successive matches in January, he scored the first goal in a comfortable 3-0 win at home to Rushden & Diamonds with Ian Stonebridge and Paul Wotton also scoring and the following Saturday he got the second in a 2-0 win at Stockport after David Friio had opened the scoring.
It was the seventh successive game Argyle hadn't conceded a goal.
His next goal came on a cold Tuesday evening in February when Argyle beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 with Mickey Evans getting the first goal and Graham making sure of another three points.
His last goal of a tremendous season came when bottom club Wycombe came to Home Park, with Argyle making hard work in winning 2-1, Graham got the first goal but they had to wait for a Mickey Evans back heel late in the game to make sure of the win.
The season ended with three wins, the now legendary 2-0 win over QPR which secured the championship was followed by a 3-1 win at Hartlepool and a season ending celebration win over Colchester, the 2-0 win was only marred by David Friio being sent off after scoring the first goal.
Argyle had won their second championship in three seasons and Graham was named by the PFA as the divisions Player of the Season.
2004-05 saw Argyle playing in the newly named Championship and they made a good start, a 0-0 home draw with Millwall was followed by away wins over Brighton and Cardiff then came a home game against Sunderland, a superb Paul Wotton free kick was followed by an equally impressive goal from Stevie Crawford, the Wearsiders got a late goal but Argyle held out for the win.
Graham had to wait until August Bank Holiday Monday for his first goal, it came in another Argyle win, he scored in between goals from David Norris and Paul Wotton to secure a 3-2 win at home to Nottingham Forest.
He had to wait until February before he scored again and again it came in an Argyle win, this time at home to Sheffield Wednesday, he got the first with goals from Paul Wotton and Dexter Blackstock making the game safe.
A key game for Argyle was on April 5th when Watford came to Home Park and were beaten by an Akos Buzacky goal to secure their place in the Championship for another season.
By the season end Argyle finished in 17th.
After four seasons at the club as an almost ever present, in fact he played in 177 games out of a possible 184 manager Bobby Williamson decided Graham was surplus to requirements and he was sold to Sheffield Wednesday for an undisclosed fee.
While at Argyle he made 193 appearances scoring 26 goals and played a major part in the winning of two championships.
Graham once again joined up with Paul Sturrock the now Owl's manager. In his first season he was made team captain and in 2005-06 was named as the club's Player of the Season.
In March 2007 with Brian Laws now manager at Hillsborough Graham requested compassionate leave after the death of his brother. When he returned to the club Graham was made to train with the youth team and was then loaned out to Burnley where he made two appearances.
At the season end Graham was released by Wednesday after making 56 appearances and scoring six goals.
He joined Rotherham for the 2007-08 season, he was an ever present throughout the season scoring one goal, which came in a 1-1 draw with Brentford.
He made 49 appearances for the Millers scoring just the one goal.
He was offered a two year contract by Shrewsbury and joined them on 30th July 2008. He scored a goal on his debut in a 4-0 win over Macclesfield.
Graham was released after two years after making 89 appearances and scoring seven goals.
In August 2010 he again joined up with Paul Sturrock when he signed a one year contract with Southend, also taking up the role of reserve team manager.
The following season he was given a two-year extension to his contract as player/assistant manager alongside Paul Sturrock.
When Paul Sturrock was replaced by Phil Brown Graham was appointed as first team coach.
Bringing the end to a playing career that saw him make 501 appearances, score 42 goals, appear in two PFA teams of the season, voted PFA player of the season, voted by supporters of three different clubs as Player of the Season and was voted into the Argyle Team of the Century.
Graham Coughlan must be one of only very few players to return to Home Park playing for the opposition and be guaranteed a heroes reception by the Green Army.
Date:Tuesday August 27 2013
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