Versatile midfielder Graeme Atkinson was born in Hull and came through the Tigers’ YTS scheme in the late 1980s, signing his first contract in 1989. He was handed his debut for City by manager Stan Ternent in December 1989 and broke into the first team on the left side of midfield in March 1990. He scored his first goal for Hull City at the end of the 1989/90 season in a 4-3 win against Ipswich that sealed City’s survival after a relegation threatened season. Atkinson spent much of the 1990/91 season in the Reserves until Stan Ternent was removed and Terry Dolan took over. Dolan used Atkinson in an attacking midfield role during the second half of the season.
Atkinson was used sparingly in the first half of the 1991/92 season as City established themselves in Division Three after relegation in May 1991. Dolan bought Graeme back into the first team in February 1992, a move that paid dividends as he scored eight times in the last 17 games of the season including a brace in the final match of the season, a 3-0 tonking of Swansea City. Atkinson was now established in an attacking midfield role and over the next two seasons he missed only seven senior fixtures, contributing eight goals in each season. He was established as one of the lower leagues’ most effective midfield creators and in October 1994, after scoring in his final appearance against Bournemouth, he was subject of a transfer offer from Preston that City’s stretched finances couldn’t resist.
Preston North End paid £80,000 for Atkinson in October 1994, while this meant dropping down a division it was to a club that was ambitious to climb the league ladder. While Atkinson was used sparingly in the second half of the 1994/95 season, he became a first team regular in 1995/96 season as Preston lifted the League Division 3 title. Atkinson was used less frequently at the higher level but remained at Deepdale for a year and a half until his transfer in March 1998 after a loan spell at Rochdale – Graeme made 92 senior appearances for PNE and scored nine goals, adding six further appearances at Rochdale.
He joined Brighton & Hove Albion in March 1998 but the move was not a success and he made just 16 appearances in nine months. In November 1998 he joined Scunthorpe United but after just one appearance for The Iron he moved on again in March 1999, signing for Scarborough. After 15 appearances and one goal for the Seadogs, Atkinson joined Rochdale in July 1999. After three seasons as a backup player, Atkinson was once again a first team regular at Spotland during the 1999/00 season. Injury meant he missed the entire 2000/01 season and he didn’t return to the Dale first team until September 2002. He played irregularly until the end of the 2002/03 season, ending his time at Rochdale having made 67 appearances and scored six goals. Across his 13 year Football League career Atkinson made 363 senior appearances and scored 62 goals.
Atkinson had a year playing in the North West non-league scene before hanging up his boots at the end of 2003. He took his coaching badges and obtained an education degree, then worked in tertiary education for Myerscough College in Preston and the Preston North End Education Trust. He also worked as an Opta performance analyst for many years, spent two years working as an analyst for the England Under-19 setup, had a spell as scout for Barrow and spent a summer managing a football team in New Zealand.
Date/Place of Birth: 11 November 1971, Hull
Hull City First Game: 9 December 1989, Port Vale H (Division Two), 18 years, 28 days old
Hull City Final Game: 1 October 1994, Bournemouth H (League Division 2), 22 years, 324 days old
Hull City (1989-1994), Preston North End (1994-1998), Rochdale (1997-1998, loan), Brighton & Hove Albion (1998), Scunthorpe United (1998-1999), Scarborough (1999), Rochdale (1999-2002), Lancaster City (2002-2003), Tamworth (2003), Spennymoor United (2003), Southport (2003)
Hull City Record
Career: 170 apps, 26 goalsGraeme Atkinson
|1990/91||14 (2)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0||-||-||-||-|
|1991/92||22 (3)||8||0 (1)||0||1 (1)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|
|1992/93||44 (2)||6||2 (0)||1||2 (0)||1||-||-||3 (0)||0|
|1993/94||36 (4)||7||2 (0)||0||2 (0)||1||-||-||2 (0)||0|
|1994/95||7 (2)||1||-||-||0 (2)||0||-||-||1 (0)||0|