Ray Graydon

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Ray Graydon
Personal information
Full name Raymond Jack Graydon[1]
Date of birth (1947-07-21) 21 July 1947 (age 71)[1]
Place of birth Bristol, England[1]
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1965–1971 Bristol Rovers 133 (33)
1971–1977 Aston Villa 193 (68)
1977–1978 Coventry City 20 (5)
1978 Washington Diplomats 26 (4)
1978–1981 Oxford United 42 (10)
Total 414 (120)
National team
England Youth
Teams managed
1998–2002 Walsall
2002–2004 Bristol Rovers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Raymond Jack Graydon (born 21 July 1947) is an English former footballer and manager. In a 16-year professional career in the English Football League and North American Soccer League he scored 139 goals in 484 league and cup appearances.

A winger, he began his career at hometown club Bristol Rovers in 1965, and scored 38 goals from 155 league and cup competitions in a six season stay. He was sold on to Aston Villa for £50,000 in July 1971, and went on to help Villa to win promotion out of the Third Division as champions in 1971–72 and then out of the Second Division in 1974–75. He scored the only goal of the 1975 League Cup Final, and won the League Cup for a second time in 1977. He was also nominated for the Second Division PFA Team of the Year in 1974–75, and featured on the losing side in the 1972 FA Charity Shield. He was sold on to Coventry City for a fee of £35,000 in 1977, and then moved to the United States to play for the Washington Diplomats in 1978, where he picked up a runners-up medal for the 1978 President's Cup Football Tournament. Later in the year he returned to England to play for Oxford United, and retired in 1981.

He coached at Southampton, Oxford United, Watford, Queens Park Rangers and Port Vale, before he was appointed manager of Walsall in May 1998. He led the club to promotion out of the Second Division in 1998–99, before repeating the feat via the play-offs in 2001. He lost his job in January 2002, and was appointed Bristol Rovers manager two months later. He was sacked in January 2004, and later briefly served Leicester City as a first-team coach. In July 2009, Walsall fans voted to honour him with a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars.

Playing career[edit]

Bristol Rovers[edit]

Graydon was born in Bristol and began his career with his hometown team, Bristol Rovers, making eight Third Division appearances under Bert Tann in the 1965–66 season. He featured three times in the 1966–67 season, before scoring one goal in 13 appearances in the 1967–68 campaign. Fred Ford took charge at the Memorial Stadium for the 1968–69 season, and Graydon scored nine goals from 36 appearances as the "Pirates" posted a 16th-place finish. Under new manager Bill Dodgin Sr., the "Gas" finished third in the 1969–70 campaign, with Graydon contributing 14 goals from 43 matches. Rovers slipped to sixth-place in 1970–71, with Graydon again scoring 14 goals from 52 appearances.

Aston Villa[edit]

In July 1971, Graydon secured a £50,000 move to Aston Villa, with captain Brian Godfrey also moving in the opposite direction.[3][4] He missed just one of Villa's 46 league games in the 1971–72 season, scoring 14 goals as the club secured the Third Division title with a five point margin over Brighton & Hove Albion.[5] Derby County and Leeds United declined the chance to play in the 1972 FA Charity Shield, so Villa accepted the invitation to play Manchester City at Villa Park, losing the match 1–0 following a penalty from Francis Lee. Gradyon went on to score ten goals from 37 appearances during the 1972–73 campaign, helping Vic Crowe's side to a third-place finish in the Second Division. He then scored eight goals from 26 matches in the 1973–74 season, as Villa dropped to 14th-place.

After Ron Saunders succeeded Crowe as manager in June 1974, Graydon managed to score 11 goals in the first 12 league matches of the 1974–75 season.[3] The "Villans" then overcame Everton, Crewe Alexandra, Hartlepool United, Colchester United and Chester to reach the 1975 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.[3] They faced Norwich City in the final, and Graydon scored the only goal of the game on 79 minutes, converting a penalty won by Chris Nicholl; his penalty was actually saved by Kevin Keelan, but Graydon managed to score from the rebound.[6][3] He finished the season as the club's top-scorer, claiming 27 goals from 50 appearances, as Villa secured promotion as the division's runners-up. He was named on the Second Division PFA Team of the Year, alongside teammate John Gidman.[7]

Graydon again finished as the club's top-scorer in 1975–76, scoring 14 goals from 44 appearances as Villa posted a 16th-place finish in the First Division. He then scored seven goals from 23 matches in the 1976–77 campaign, helping the club to a fourth-place finish, and he also picked up a second League Cup winner's medal. Villa beat Manchester City, Norwich City, Wrexham, Millwall and Queens Park Rangers, before facing Everton in the final. Graydon was unable to play in the Wembley final or the replay at Hillsborough Stadium due to injury, but was able to make the starting eleven for the second replay at Old Trafford.[6] Again the teams took the game into extra-time, before Brian Little scored the winning goal for a 3–2 victory. At the end of the season Saunders accepted an offer for Graydon from Leicester City, though the move fell through after the player met Leicester manager Frank McLintock.[5]

I was given permission to get to the middle or to the near post and that is where a lot of my goals came from – from being in the box. It sounds so simple. But it took a lot work and everyone in the team had to know their jobs and the runs each of us were going to make. Now I can look back on some wonderful memories. I joined Villa in the Third Division and we went up three, two one. I then won two League Cup finals. It was fairytale stuff and I loved every minute.

— Graydon, speaking in November 2017, reflecting on his time in Birmingham.[6]

Later career[edit]

Graydon joined Coventry City for the 1977–78 season for a fee of £35,000.[8] Although in and out of the side he still made a significant contribution to what would be one of the most exciting campaigns in the club's 34-year top-flight history. Manager Gordon Milne played the whole season with a 4–2–4 formation with Graydon and Tommy Hutchison playing as out-and-out wingers. The side also boasted Mick Ferguson, Ian Wallace, Terry Yorath, Graham Oakey, Bobby MacDonald and Jim Blyth.[9]

The "Sky Blues" finished sixth in the First Division and Graydon left Highfield Road at the end of the season and thereafter had a spell in the North American Soccer League with the Washington Diplomats.[2] The Diplomats finished behind the New York Cosmos in the Eastern Division of the National Conference in the 1978 season, but qualified for the play-offs, where they were beaten by the Portland Timbers. Graydon scored four goals from 26 NASL games.[2] The club also competed in the 1978 President's Cup Football Tournament, finishing as runners-up to South Korea after a 6–2 defeat in the final at the Seoul Stadium.

He joined Oxford United in November 1978, scoring five goals from 19 matches in the 1978–79 season as the "U's" posted an 11th-place finish in the Third Division under the stewardship of Mick Brown. Bill Asprey then took United to a 17th-place finish, with Graydon contributing five goals from 19 games in 1979–80. The 1980–81 season was to prove his final one as a player, as he made only one start in the FA Cup and three substitute appearances in the league.

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring as a player, Graydon worked as a coach at Southampton alongside Dave Merrington, and as assistant to Maurice Evans at Oxford United, most notably helping Oxford to the 1986 League Cup.[10] He went on to become the youth team coach at Watford.[11] He led them to victory in the FA Youth Cup in 1988–89, with a 2–1 victory over Manchester City; his team included David James as goalkeeper.[12] He was given the opportunity to manage Walsall in 1989, but turned it down, with the job instead going to John Barnwell.[12] He also went on to work as a youth team coach at Queens Park Rangers.[13] He spent the 1997–98 season assisting John Rudge at Port Vale, helping to steer the "Valiants" away from the First Division relegation zone.[13]


Replacing Jan Sørensen as Walsall manager in May 1998, Graydon led Walsall to promotion out of the Second Division as runners-up behind Fulham in 1998–99. Fulham chairman Mohamed Al-Fayed had given manager Kevin Keegan £12 million to spend on Fulham, whereas Graydon spent only £30,000 to bring in Gillingham defender Richard Green.[13] Manchester City and Reading had also spent millions, yet finished behind the "Saddlers".[13] Walsall had been slated as one of the bookies' favourites for relegation before the season began, having finished in 19th-place in 1997–98 and selling French stars Roger Boli and Jean-François Péron.[13][14] Within the League Managers Association, Graydon came behind only Alex Ferguson in the poll for Manager of the Season.[14] He stuck to a rigid 4–4–2 system, and picked up 12 away wins operating a counter-attacking system.[13] His best signing proved to be midfielder Darren Wrack, who came on a free transfer from Grimsby Town and went on to be voted onto the PFA Team of the Year.[13] He also brought in left-back Neil Pointon and striker Andy Rammell.[14] He maintained strict discipline, stressing that "fitness is absolutely vital".[13]

Lots of people would come in here and kick the desk because they didn't have money to spend. I knew the position and accepted what the chairman told me: that he'd make cash available if he had it. In fact, I've made him £270,000 because I've sold two at £150,000 each.

— Graydon achieved huge success at the Bescot Stadium on a small budget.[13]

He was unable to keep the club in the First Division, as they were relegated at the end of the 1999–2000 season, finishing three points adrift of safety. He was named as Second Division Manager of the Month for August 2000.[15] In the 2000–01 season, Graydon led Walsall to a fourth-place finish and then to the Second Division play-off final at the Millennium Stadium – defeating Reading 3–2 after extra time to regain promotion to the First Division at the first attempt. Instead of celebrating immediately, Graydon embraced with Reading manager Alan Pardew, and shook the hand of each Reading player, including former Walsall captain, Adrian Viveash.[16] His second spell in the First Division was just as unsuccessful as the first, and after a dismal performance in the January Black Country derby with West Bromwich Albion, Graydon was sacked.[17][18] His successor, Colin Lee, kept Walsall up at the end of the 2001–02 season.

Bristol Rovers[edit]

On 25 April 2002, Graydon returned to his hometown club to manage Bristol Rovers, who had finished second-from-bottom of the English Football League in 2001–02, warning that "If you have a sick patient then surgery is required and, in this instance, I have to administer that surgery".[19] The following day he published his retained list, releasing 13 players from the club.[20] He led Rovers to a 20th-place finish in the Third Division in 2002–03, before he was sacked in January 2004, with the club then in 12th-place and fans beginning to turn on him and his "negative football".[21][22][23]

Later career[edit]

Since leaving Bristol Rovers, Graydon accompanied Howard Wilkinson to manage in China during 2004.[14] In February 2006, Graydon was appointed as first-team coach at Leicester City by manager Rob Kelly.[24] He left the club at the end of the 2005–06 season.[25] In July 2009, Walsall fans voted to honour him with a star on the Birmingham Walk of Stars on Broad Street.[26]


Playing statistics[edit]


Club Season Division League FA Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Bristol Rovers 1965–66 Third Division 8 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
1966–67 Third Division 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
1967–68 Third Division 12 1 0 0 1 0 13 1
1968–69 Third Division 28 6 7 3 1 0 36 9
1969–70 Third Division 40 13 2 1 1 0 43 14
1970–71 Third Division 42 13 3 0 7 1 52 14
Total 133 33 12 4 10 1 155 38
Aston Villa 1971–72 Third Division 45 14 1 0 6 1 52 15
1972–73 Second Division 32 9 1 0 4 1 37 10
1973–74 Second Division 23 8 2 0 1 0 26 8
1974–75 Second Division 37 19 3 2 10 6 50 27
1975–76 First Division 38 12 2 1 4 1 44 14
1976–77 First Division 18 6 1 0 4 1 23 7
Total 193 68 10 3 29 10 232 81
Coventry City 1977–78 First Division 20 5 1 0 3 1 24 6
Washington Diplomats[2] 1978 North American Soccer League 26 4 26 4
Oxford United 1978–79 Third Division 18 5 1 0 0 0 19 5
1979–80 Third Division 21 5 1 0 2 0 24 5
1980–81 Third Division 3 0 1 0 0 0 4 0
Total 42 10 3 0 2 0 47 10
Career total 414 120 26 7 44 12 484 139

Managerial statistics[edit]

Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
P W D L Win %
Walsall 5 May 1998 22 January 2002 199 79 49 71 039.7 [27][28]
Bristol Rovers 25 April 2002 16 January 2004 81 22 22 37 027.2 [27][28]
Total 280 101 71 108 036.1


Pavement Plaque on Broad Street


Aston Villa
Washington Diplomats




  1. ^ a b c "Ray Graydon". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ray Graydon". North American Soccer League Players. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d "Ray Graydon treasures his Aston Villa memories". Birmingham Mail. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  4. ^ "ABOUT Ray Graydon". www.lerwill-life.org.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b Abbott, Colin. "Villan on the Spot: Ray Graydon". www.avfc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Masi, Joseph (4 November 2017). "Big Interview: Ray Graydon's Aston Villa years brought Wembley joy". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b Lynch, Tony (1995). The Official P.F.A. Footballers Heroes. Random House. p. 140. ISBN 0-09-179135-9.
  8. ^ "Ray Graydon joins up with CCFPA : Coventry City Former Players Association || CCFPA". www.ccfpa.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Ray Graydon up for the Saddlers on Saturday". Coventry City Former Players Association. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  10. ^ Fissler, Neil. "Where Are They Now? Oxford United 1986 Milk Cup Winners". The Football League Paper. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  11. ^ "CONGRATULATIONS are about to be handed out to former Watford youth team boss Ray Graydon, who won th". Watford Observer. 29 May 1999. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Exclusive - Ray Graydon Interview! | VitalFootball.co.uk". VitalFootball.co.uk. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shaw, Phil (20 April 1999). "Football: Graydon manages to inspire Walsall". The Independent. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Walsall 1998-99". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Manager of the Month". League Managers Association. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Walsall break Reading hearts". BBC Sport. 27 May 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2001.
  17. ^ "Walsall sack Graydon". BBC Sport. 22 January 2002. Retrieved 22 January 2002.
  18. ^ "Empty glass, Blanc career, and Vacant job". Guardian. 22 January 2002. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Graydon new Rovers boss". BBC Sport. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 25 April 2002.
  20. ^ "Graydon swings swift axe". BBC Sport. 26 April 2002. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Pirates part company with Graydon". BBC Sport. 20 January 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2004.
  22. ^ "Graydon shrugs off criticism". BBC Sport. 20 October 2003. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Graydon leaves Bristol Rovers". The Guardian. 20 January 2004. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  24. ^ "Graydon joins Foxes coaching team". BBC Sport. 20 February 2006. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  25. ^ "Miller appointed Leicester coach". BBC Sport. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  26. ^ Bradley, Steve (23 October 2012). "Ray Graydon scoops Broad Street Walk of Stars honour". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  27. ^ a b c Ray Graydon at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
  28. ^ a b Ray Graydon management career statistics at Soccerbase