Eddie Gray (footballer, born 1948)

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Eddie Gray
MBE
Personal information
Full nameEdwin Gray [1]
Date of birth (1948-01-17) 17 January 1948 (age 73)
Place of birth Glasgow, Scotland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) [2]
Position(s) Winger
Youth career
1965–1966 Leeds United
Senior career*
YearsTeamApps(Gls)
1966–1983 Leeds United [3] 454 (52)
National team
1969–1977 Scotland 12 (3)
Teams managed
1982–1985 Leeds United
1985–1986 Whitby Town
1986–1988 Rochdale
1988–1989 Hull City
2003–2004 Leeds United (caretaker)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Edwin "Eddie" Gray MBE (born 17 January 1948) is a Scottish former football player and coach. Gray was a cultured winger, who was an integral member of the legendary Leeds United team of the 1960s and 1970s, later twice becoming the club's manager.

Contents

In 2000, Gray was voted as the third Greatest Leeds United player of all time, surpassed only by his club captain, Billy Bremner (No. 1) and John Charles (No. 2). He was also voted into the Greatest Leeds United team of all time. His two goals against Burnley in 1970 feature in Leeds United's Greatest 100 goals – the second of which is widely regarded as the greatest Leeds United goal of all time and recently featured in The Times as one of the five greatest ever goals. On 9 May 2013, Gray was also appointed as Leeds United football Ambassador. Gray was also inducted into the English Hall of Fame on 25 September 2013 at an awards evening in Manchester.

Gray played in 12 full international games for Scotland between 1969 and 1977. Besides his two stints with Leeds, Gray also managed Whitby Town, Rochdale and Hull City during the 1980s.

Playing career

Gray was born in Glasgow. He was a schoolboy international for Scotland. He had aspirations of signing for his boyhood team Celtic, but signed professional forms with Leeds United at the age of 16. He made his first team debut on New Year's Day 1966, less than three weeks before his 18th birthday, and would go on to play for the club for almost 20 years. A winger in the classic mould, Gray was feted in world football for his ability to beat opposing full backs for skill, pace and thought. As the Leeds team grew in stature and experience through the 1960s, Gray became a vital component of the team.

In 1968, he was in the Leeds team which won the League Cup and the Fairs Cup double, scoring winning goals in both semi finals, including a memorable individual goal against Brian Clough's Derby County in the semi final of the League Cup. [4] However injury meant he missed the second leg of the Fairs Cup final. [5] He was then an important part of the team that won League championship a year later, making 33 appearances and scoring 5 goals, during a season in which United would score a record number of championship points and lose only two matches along the way to conquering the title. However it was in 1970 that he would make his most famous appearance in a Leeds shirt.

The team was chasing a unique "treble" of League championship, FA Cup and European Cup with Gray in sparkling form. He had already scored what many Leeds fans call the greatest goal ever by a Leeds player – a solo run past several Burnley players which involved flicks and dragbacks as he somehow got to a shooting position from a position on the goal-line well to the left of the goal – when his day came at Wembley for the 1970 FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

Gray's marking full back was David Webb, a steady but undistinguished defender whom, for the 90 minutes and extra-time period, Gray would duly torment. Webb was, time and again, left on his backside or looking the wrong way as Gray ghosted past him on countless occasions, including one run where he cut inside onto his 'weaker' right foot and crashed a shot against the crossbar. Though Leeds dominated the match, the game still ended 2–2 and a replay was required – Gray had taken the corner which had allowed Jack Charlton to open the scoring. In the replay, Chelsea changed tactics and put the more uncompromising Ron Harris on to Gray and as a result, Gray's danger was snuffed out, Harris badly injured Gray with a brutal tackle to the back of the knee. Chelsea won 2–1 and, in a final twist, it was Webb who scored the winner. Leeds lost the League championship race to Everton and the European Cup semi final to Celtic, thereby ended with nothing.

Gray's frequent battles with injury started, and he missed more than half of the 1970–71 season, during which Leeds again snatched League championship defeat from the jaws of victory but won the Fairs Cup for the second time against Juventus. He found devastating form again for part of the 1971–72 season in which he was part of the team that destroyed Manchester United and Southampton consecutively at Elland Road, by scorelines of 5–1 and 7–0; the match footage of both games would become iconic. Later in the same season he featured in the team which won the 1972 FA Cup Final against Arsenal and featured again in the following cup final which Leeds surprisingly lost to Sunderland. He missed the controversial 1973 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final defeat to A.C. Milan, and missed most of the season in 1973–74 when Leeds won the League title again thanks to more injury woes. These injuries had become so frequent that when Brian Clough succeeded Don Revie at Leeds United, he began his first team meeting by stating that if Eddie Gray had been a horse, he would have been shot long ago. [6]

His performance on the wing earned the famous tribute from Revie that when he plays on snow, he doesn't leave any footprints. [7] Gray played in the team which reached the 1975 European Cup Final in Paris, featuring in the home victory against the Spanish champions Barcelona in the semi final, during which Gray would torment his marking full back de la Cruz and push Barcelona on the back foot, allowing Leeds to dominate. However, he was left from the starting line up for the final by manager Jimmy Armfield, which Leeds would go on to lose controversially to Bayern Munich. Also featuring in this campaign was his younger brother Frank, who had likewise come through the ranks at Elland Road. This was the swansong of the great Don Revie team (Revie himself had left a year earlier to take over as England manager) and Gray's teammates started to leave the club. By the early 1980s, Gray was the only player from any part of the Revie era still at the club (although Peter Lorimer and David Harvey would later make comebacks). Converted to left back, Gray prolonged his career and was in the side which was relegated under former teammate Allan Clarke in 1982.

Gray's unfortunate injury record meant that his Scotland career was short and infrequent. He won just 12 caps and missed the 1974 FIFA World Cup through injury. In an era of hard men – Bremner, Harris, Smith, etc., Gray also had the distinction of never being booked in his career.

Managerial career

Gray then took over as player-manager at Leeds in 1982, following their relegation from the First Division. The club had to turn to a youth policy to rebuild the team, with the emergence of players like John Sheridan, Neil Aspin, Denis Irwin and Scott Sellars. After top half finishes in his first two seasons in charge, the 1984–85 season saw a push for promotion that was lost on the final day at Birmingham City. Following failure to gain promotion from the Second Division, Gray ended association with Leeds after 20 years, 561 games and 68 goals.

He would later manage Whitby Town. In 1986, Gray took over at Rochdale and in the 1986–87 season the club managed an escape from near-certain relegation from the Football League.

Gray took over at Hull City for season 1988–89, following the departure of Brian Horton the previous season. Hull managed to pull into mid-table and only five points short of the play-offs in February, and they reached the FA Cup fifth round where they lost to Liverpool. Only 1 win in the last 18 games meant that Hull finished fourth from bottom, yet clear of relegation danger, but the poor form led to his departure.

Return to Leeds

Gray continued his long standing association with Leeds United by joining the club as a Youth Team coach. His work with the youth set-up nurtured a terrific generation of Leeds players such as Harry Kewell, Ian Harte, Alan Smith and Jonathan Woodgate, who all went on to become first-team regulars. In 1997, Gray was promoted to Reserve Team Manager and the following year was made new manager David O'Leary's assistant.

To the aggravation of Leeds supporters, Gray was forced to take a back step when Brian Kidd was promoted from Academy Manager to Head Coach and was given all coaching responsibilities. The fans made their support known for Gray through banners at matches, whilst at the same time verbally abusing Kidd. [8] Both Gray and Kidd were relieved of their duties in 2003 when new manager Peter Reid took the reins.

When Reid left Leeds in 2003, Gray was charged with the task of trying to preserve their FA Premier League status, something which, under immense pressure, he could not do. Gray parted company once again with the club after relegation. Gray was given a one-year football consultancy role at the club before joining BBC Radio Leeds as a matchday analyst. In 2008, the BBC lost their rights to the live radio broadcast of Leeds matches; as a result, Gray left BBC Radio Leeds and moved to the club's official radio station, Yorkshire Radio.

On 9 May 2013, Gray was appointed Football Ambassador at Leeds United and would also remain in his role as Yorkshire Radio Co-Commentator. He is currently co-commentator alongside Thom Kirwin for Leeds United's own TV and Radio Channel LUTV.

Eddie Gray's son Stuart followed his father into professional football, playing for Celtic, the team Eddie had supported as a boy. [9] His nephew, Andy Gray, son of his brother Frank, was another professional footballer and also played for Leeds. [10]

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
ClubSeasonLeague FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
DivisionAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoalsAppsGoals
Leeds United 1965–66 First Division 412061
1966–67 294401060404
1967–68 326307182509
1968–69 335202060435
1969–70 309702050449
1970–71 1811053244
1971–72 2666010336
1972–73 171303020251
1973–74 801090
1974–75 1216130212
1975–76 2911020321
1976–77 37551426
1977–78 27542317
1978–79 2841273369
1979–80 3021030342
1980–81 38020400
1981–82 3112120352
1982–83 Second Division 2104030280
1983–84 4040
Career total4545247535641557768

Honours

Leeds United

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References

  1. "Eddie Gray". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  2. Butler, Frank; Collins, Patrick (1973). News of the World Football Annual 1973–74. London. p. 274.
  3. "Eddie Gray – Leeds Career".
  4. "Eddie Gray solo goal; Derby County". 1 January 2011.
  5. "Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Final Second Leg". ozwhitelufc.net.au. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  6. Shields, Tom (28 November 2004). "Lousy football, wonderful fans; SPORTS DIARY". The Sunday Herald.
  7. "Eddie Gray". National Football Museum. Retrieved 16 September 2020.
  8. "Who's Kidding who?". BBC News. 4 March 2002. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  9. "This Life: Eddie Gray". The Yorkshire Evening Post. 18 June 2009. Archived from the original on 16 March 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  10. "Leeds United: Andy Gray was so proud to keep it in family". Yorkshire Evening Post. 4 July 2015. Archived from the original on 1 October 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2017.