Bert Gray

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Not to be confused with Bert Gray (rugby league).
Bert Gray
Personal information
Full name Albert Gray
Date of birth (1900-09-23)23 September 1900
Place of birth Tredegar, Wales
Date of death 16 December 1969(1969-12-16) (aged 69)
Place of death Blackpool, England
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Youth career
Rhyd Welfare
Rhyd Athletic
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1921–1923 Ebbw Vale
1923–1927 Oldham Athletic 97 (0)
1927–1930 Manchester City 68 (0)
1929–1930 Manchester Central (loan)
1930–1931 Coventry City
1931–1936 Tranmere Rovers 192 (0)
1936–1938 Chester 73 (0)
1938 Waterford
1938–1939 Congleton Town
National team
1924–1938 Wales 24 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Albert Gray (23 September 1900 – 16 December 1969) was a Welsh international footballer who played as goalkeeper for various clubs in the 1920s and 1930s, including Oldham Athletic, Manchester City, Tranmere Rovers and Chester. For his country, he made 24 appearances between 1924 and 1938, helping Wales win the British Home Championship three times.

Football career[edit]

Club career[edit]

Gray was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire and first came to the attention of scouts from the Football League when he stood in for the injured goalkeeper for a local colliery side.[1] He spent two years with Ebbw Vale during which time the club won the Southern League Welsh Section in 1921–22, going one better the following year to win the Southern League championship.[2]

Standing at 6 ft 3ins, Gray was one of the tallest players at the time and used his height to great effect; he was described as "a very capable goalkeeper, (who) was cool and safe and inspired confidence in his defenders".[1]

In May 1923, he moved to the Football League Second Division with Oldham Athletic where he remained for four seasons, making over 100 first-team appearances before joining fellow Second Division club, Manchester City for a fee of £2,250 in January 1927,[1] where he displaced long-term custodians Jim Goodchild and James Mitchell. He soon became a regular for his new club, helping them to win the Second Division title in 1927–28.[1]

By the end of the first season in the First Division, Gray was out of favour at Maine Road and in August 1929 he was loaned for a season to the short-lived Manchester Central club.[1] There then followed a year back in the Southern League, with Coventry City, before returning to the Football League, this time in the Third Division North with Tranmere Rovers.[1] Gray spent five seasons at the Prenton Park club, during which they twice reached the final of the Welsh Cup, losing to Bristol City in 1934,[3] but winning the trophy the following year with a 1–0 victory over Chester.[4]

In 1936, he applied for the manager's job at Tranmere but was turned down and moved to fellow Third Division North club, Chester.[1] After a brief spell in Ireland at Waterford in 1938, Gray wound up his career in the Cheshire League with Congleton Town.[1]

International career[edit]

Gray made his international debut for Wales in the 1924 British Home Championship match against Scotland on 16 February 1924. The game at Ninian Park, Cardiff ended in a 2–0 victory for Wales, with goals from Willie Davies and Len Davies.[5] Gray retained his place for the next two matches with victories over England and Ireland, thus enabling Wales to take the British Home Championship trophy for the second time in five years.[6] Gray only missed four Wales international matches between February 1924 and October 1929[7] during which time Wales again claimed the Championship trophy under captain Fred Keenor.[6]

On 28 November 1927, Gray featured in an eventful match against England at Burnley's Turf Moor ground, involving two own goals and a missed penalty. Wales opened the scoring with a goal from Wilf Lewis followed by an own goal by England's captain, Jack Hill, playing at his home stadium.[8] In the second half, Roy Goodall had the chance to bring England back into the game but missed his penalty.[9] When England finally scored, this was also an own goal as Fred Keenor deflected Louis Page's corner past Gray in the Wales goal.[10][11] (Some sources claim that it was Gray himself who turned the ball into the net.[12])

In the summer of 1929, the Football Association of Wales sent a party of players to tour Canada,[6] with Gray and Len Evans sharing the goalkeeping duties. In an article welcoming the touring party, The Montreal Gazette described Gray as "well equipped for the position as he stands 6 feet 3 inches and should have little difficulty reaching high shots." Gray was "in the glory of his manhood at 29 years of age. His goalkeeping has been described as "majestic" and there is no exaggeration in this word".[13] During the tour, Wales played 15 matches in five weeks, winning them all with 61 goals scored and only ten conceded.[14]

During the two years between November 1929 and October 1931, Wales called upon several keepers, including Cardiff City's Len Evans and Wrexham's Dick Finnigan, who was called up for the match against Ireland in February 1930 because Manchester City refused to release Gray.[15] (The Irish won this match 7–0, with six goals from Joe Bambrick.[16])

Gray returned to the side for three matches in October/November 1931, in the 1932 British Home Championship. Gray was appointed captain in Keenor's absence for the match against Scotland on 31 October;[17] despite "(keeping) goal in fine style",[18] Gray conceded three goals with the Welsh only managing two in reply from Ernie Curtis.[19]

For five seasons, between October 1932 and March 1936, Roy John played in goal for Wales,[20] before Gray received a recall for the match against England on 17 October 1936. Gray retained his place for five matches and helped Wales take the British Home Championship once again. His final international appearance came against Ireland on 16 March 1938 when Gray was in his 38th year.[21]

International appearances[edit]

Gray made 24 appearances for Wales in official international matches, as follows:[7]

Date Venue Opponent Result[22] Goals Competition
16 February 1924 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Scotland 2–0 0 1924 British Home Championship
3 March 1924 Ewood Park, Blackburn  England 2–1 0 1924 British Home Championship
15 March 1924 Windsor Park, Belfast  Ireland 1–0 0 1924 British Home Championship
14 February 1925 Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh  Scotland 1–3 0 1925 British Home Championship
28 February 1925 Vetch Field, Swansea  England 1–2 0 1925 British Home Championship
18 April 1925 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Ireland 0–0 0 1925 British Home Championship
31 October 1925 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Scotland 0–3 0 1926 British Home Championship
1 March 1926 Selhurst Park, London  England 3–1 0 1926 British Home Championship
30 October 1926 Ibrox Park, Glasgow  Scotland 0–3 0 1927 British Home Championship
29 October 1927 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Scotland 2–2 0 1928 British Home Championship
28 November 1927 Turf Moor, Burnley  England 2–1 0 1928 British Home Championship
27 October 1928 Ibrox Park, Glasgow  Scotland 2–4 0 1929 British Home Championship
17 November 1928 Vetch Field, Swansea  England 2–3 0 1929 British Home Championship
2 February 1929 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Ireland 2–2 0 1929 British Home Championship
26 October 1929 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Scotland 2–4 0 1930 British Home Championship
31 October 1931 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Scotland 2–3 0 (Captain) 1932 British Home Championship
18 November 1931 Anfield, Liverpool  England 1–3 0 1932 British Home Championship
5 December 1931 Windsor Park, Belfast  Ireland 0–4 0 1932 British Home Championship
17 October 1936 Ninian Park, Cardiff  England 2–1 0 1937 British Home Championship
2 December 1936 Dens Park, Dundee  Scotland 2–1 0 1937 British Home Championship
17 March 1937 Racecourse Ground, Wrexham  Ireland 4–1 0 1937 British Home Championship
30 October 1937 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Scotland 2–1 0 1938 British Home Championship
17 November 1937 Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough  England 1–2 0 1938 British Home Championship
16 March 1938 Windsor Park, Belfast  Ireland 0–1 0 1938 British Home Championship
Win Draw Loss

Later career[edit]

Gray was a keen golfer and won the Merseyside Footballers' title in 1933, 1934 and 1936.[1]

During the Second World War, he was a sergeant-instructor with South-Eastern Command.[1] In October 1942, he was goalkeeper for a South-Eastern Command team composed of professional footballers, including England internationals Bert Sproston, Cliff Britton and Albert Geldard, who played a 0–0 draw at Erith.[23] After the war, Gray became a bookmaker at Cleveleys, near Blackpool. He died in Blackpool on 16 December 1969.[1]

In April 2009, Gray's archives and collection of memorabilia were put up for auction; his caps, medals and photographs raised in excess of £4,000.[24] Several of the items were acquired by the Welsh National Football Collection, including his League medal from 1923,[25] a Wales Football Team Badge,[26] two medals from the Canadian tour of 1929,[27][28] one of Gray's international caps[29] and Gray's shirt from his final international appearance.[30]

Honours[edit]

Ebbw Vale
Manchester City
Tranmere Rovers
Wales

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Davies, Gareth; Garland, Ian (1991). Who's Who of Welsh International Soccer Players. Bridge Books. p. 70. ISBN 1-872424-11-2. 
  2. ^ "Ebbw Vale". Football Club History Database. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "Bristol City 3 Tranmere Rovers 0". Welsh Cup Final (replay). Welsh Football Data Archive. 3 May 1934. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Tranmere Rovers 1 Chester 0". Welsh Cup Final. Welsh Football Data Archive. 4 May 1935. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Wales 2 Scotland 0". Welsh Football Data Archive. 16 February 1924. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "1920s A Time of Extremes". The Story of Welsh Football. Wrexham Borough Council. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Samuel, Bill (2009). The Complete Wales FC 1876–2008. Soccer Books. pp. 25–32. ISBN 1-86223-176-1. 
  8. ^ "Own goals conceded by England". www.englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Penalties missed by England". www.englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Own goals scored in favour of England". www.englandfootballonline.com. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "England 1 – 2 Wales (Match summary)". www.englandstats.com. 28 November 1927. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Samuel, Bill (2009). The Complete Wales FC 1876–2008. Soccer Books. p. 27. ISBN 1-86223-176-1. 
  13. ^ "Welsh Soccer Team Sailing Tomorrow". The Montreal Gazette. 23 May 1929. Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  14. ^ Morrison, Neil (4 March 2011). "British "FA XI" Tours". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF). Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "On This Day in History". S4C. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  16. ^ Ryder, Chris. "Joe Bambrick: Footballer 1905 – 1983". Ulster History Circle. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "Wales 2 Scotland 3". www.eu-football.info. 31 October 1931. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "Wales 2 Scotland 3 (match report)". www.londonhearts.com. 31 October 1931. p. 2. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Wales 2 Scotland 3". Welsh Football Data Archive. 31 October 1931. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Goalkeepers (in chronological order)". www.welshfootballonline.com. 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Ireland 1 Wales 0". Welsh Football Data Archive. 16 March 1938. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  22. ^ Wales score first
  23. ^ "Bengal 1 Deres 9". www.erithandbelvederefc.co.uk. 21 January 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "If the cap fits – auction it!". Cardiff: Western Mail. 25 April 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Welsh Football League Medal from the 1922–23 season awarded to Bert Gray". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  26. ^ "Wales Football Team Badge belonging to Bert Gray". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  27. ^ "Welsh FA Canadian Tour Medal from 1929, presented to Bert Gray". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  28. ^ "FAW Tour of Canada, Welsh International Football Team Medal". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Albert Gray Wales International Football Cap 1926–27". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Welsh Full International Football Shirt – Bert Gray". Gathering the Jewels. Culturenet Cymru. Retrieved 25 October 2011. 

External links[edit]