London ball

The former Premier League tough man now drives busy London trains years after cracking tackles

Former Birmingham City and Coventry City tough man Martin Grainger has traded opposition driving forward on the bend to drive London trains on a track since hanging up his boots.

Grainger, now 49, started at Colchester United and helped the Essex minnows win promotion to the Conference in the 1991-92 season.

It wasn’t long before bigger fish came and in 1993 he joined Brentford for a fee of £ 60,000, a sizeable sum for the time.

After three seasons at Griffin Park, Grainger moved to Birmingham, where he was more successful, helping the Blues win promotion to the Premier League and reach the 2001 League Cup final.

Martin Grainger has carved out a reputation for himself as a pragmatic Birmingham City defender, seen here upsetting Grand Holt

He quickly became an inspirational figure at St Andrews due to his incredible consistency and set-piece abilities, winning the club’s Player of the Season award around the turn of the millennium.

After promotion to the top flight and amidst injury battles, Grainger’s playing time became more limited and he joined Midlands rivals Coventry City on loan.

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This is what Grainger looks like now
This is what Grainger looks like now

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He only made seven appearances for the Sky Blues before returning to Birmingham, where he played four more times and scored against Manchester United in his last game before hanging up his boots.

After his retirement, Grainger moved to Hertfordshire and embarked on non-league football as manager of Cheshunt before becoming a delivery driver and joining a VIP chauffeur agency.

Grainger (right) works as a train conductor
Grainger (right) works as a train conductor

These days, however, the pragmatic former defender has found his second calling as a train conductor, transporting London commuters from one pillar to another on the capital’s rail network.

Grainger spoke to the Blues Talk Podcast at the start of the pandemic and revealed what it was like to be outside and work while everyone else was locked inside.

Grainger was not someone who took prisoners out of the football field
Grainger was not someone who took prisoners out of the football field

“It’s strange,” he said. “There are days when there are not many people, and the other day I had 200 or 300 people on the train.

“It’s really surreal,” he concluded.

Grainger’s son Charlie also has the football bug and previously played for England U18 and Leyton Orient between 2012 and 2019.

These days the 25-year-old shooter is a key member of the Dulwich Hamlet squad fighting for promotion to the top of the Southern National League, with dad Martin a regular at games.