Ray Graydon

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Ray Graydon
Personal information
Date of birth (1947-07-21) 21 July 1947 (age 69)
Place of birth Bristol, England
Playing position Winger
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1965–1971 Bristol Rovers 133 (33)
1971–1977 Aston Villa 193 (67)
1977–1978 Coventry City 20 (5)
1978 Washington Diplomats 26 (0)
1978–1981 Oxford United 42 (10)
Total 413 (116)
Teams managed
1998–2002 Walsall
2002–2004 Bristol Rovers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

Ray Graydon (born 21 July 1947) is an English football manager and retired football player. He was recently employed as first team coach of Championship team Leicester City while Rob Kelly was manager during the 2005–06 season.

Playing career[edit]

Graydon was born in Bristol and began his career with his home-town team, Bristol Rovers, making his debut in the 1965–66 season. In the summer of 1971, he secured a move to Third Division Aston Villa. With the West Midlands side (by now playing in the second division) he won the Football League Cup in 1975, scoring the only goal in the final. He was also a member of the 1977 League Cup winning side.[1]

Graydon joined Coventry City for the 1977–1978 season. 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 clubs 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, containing Hutchison and Graydon also boasted Mick Ferguson, Ian Wallace, Terry Yorath, Graham Oakey, Bobby MacDonald and Jim Blyth.[2] Graydon left Coventry at the end of the season and thereafter had a spell in the North American Soccer League with Washington Diplomats.[3] After this Graydon began pursuing coaching ambitions.

Coaching career[edit]

Graydon become a highly respected coach – particularly working at Southampton alongside Dave Merrington, and as assistant to Maurice Evans at Oxford United, most notably helping Oxford to the 1986 League Cup.[4] However, management was an option that Graydon avoided until approached by Walsall in the summer of 1998.

Management career[edit]

Pavement Plaque on Broad Street

Walsall (1998–2002)[edit]

Replacing colourful Dane, Jan Sorensen, Graydon's first task was to keep Walsall in the then Second Division, and to re-introduce an element of professionalism to the club. However, success went much further than this – with promotion being secured alongside then-England manager Kevin Keegan's big-spending Fulham side. What made the feat even more achievable was not only that Walsall were favourites for relegation in the summer of 1998, but that behind them lay the likes of Gillingham, Preston North End, Wigan Athletic and Manchester City – all having spent millions of pounds that season. Walsall's team cost approximately £80,000 with perhaps the smallest operating budget of any team in the league. Within the League Managers Association, Graydon polled only behind Sir Alex Ferguson, in the poll for Manager of the Season.[5]

Relegation from the First Division followed the season after, although, despite early struggle, Graydon took his team to the brink of survival. This was no mean feat, and the odyssey to the First Division had allowed Graydon to re-assess what needed to be done to ensure that next time Walsall gained promotion, they would stay in the higher division.

Indeed, Graydon again worked his midas touch the following season, taking Walsall to the Division Two play-off final – defeating Reading 3–2 after extra time to, yet again, earn promotion. In a true sign of the gentleman Graydon had become known as, instead of celebrating immediately, he embraced with Reading manager Alan Pardew, and shook the hand of each Reading player, including former Walsall captain, Adrian Viveash.[6]

Graydon's second spell in the First Division was just as unsuccessful as the first (but he stayed faithful despite being courted by then Premiership side, Southampton) After a dismal performance in the January Black Country derby with West Bromwich Albion, Graydon was sacked.[7] This decision was met with derision amongst the footballing press; however, the same press expected Graydon to walk into another job in football within days.

Bristol Rovers (2002–2004)[edit]

Graydon gladly accepted the chance to save his boy-hood favourites from relegation.[8] However, the same strict methods that Graydon had employed to success at the Bescot Stadium were not so successful at Rovers, with relegation avoided yet again the following season. Graydon was sacked in January 2004, and is yet to return to management.[9]

Post-Managerial career[edit]

Since leaving Bristol Rovers, Graydon accompanied Howard Wilkinson to manage in China during 2004. This arrangement lasted a matter of months, however.[5]

In February 2006, Graydon was approached by Leicester City manager Rob Kelly, and became the club's first team coach. After the end of the season, he left the club.[10]

In July 2009, he was acknowledged for his legendary status amongst Walsall fans with a star on Birmingham's Walk of Stars on Broad Street after topping the most votes, voted by Walsall fans against other legendary Walsall stars.[11]

Managerial stats[edit]

Competitive matches only.
Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Walsall 5 May 1998 22 January 2002 199 79 49 71 39.70
Bristol Rovers 25 April 2002 16 January 2004 81 22 22 37 27.16
Total 280 101 71 108 36.07


with Walsall


  1. ^ "Villa's Fab 50 top player countdown: 33 Ray Graydon". Aston Villa. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "Ray Graydon up for the Saddlers on Saturday". Coventry City Former Players Association. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ray Graydon". North American Soccer League Players. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Fissler, Neil. "Where Are They Now? Oxford United 1986 Milk Cup Winners". The Football League Paper. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Walsall 1998-99". When Saturday Comes. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "Walsall break Reading hearts". BBC Sport. 27 May 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2001. 
  7. ^ "Walsall sack Graydon". BBC Sport. 22 January 2002. Retrieved 22 January 2002. 
  8. ^ "Graydon new Rovers boss". BBC Sport. 25 April 2002. Retrieved 25 April 2002. 
  9. ^ "Pirates part company with Graydon". BBC Sport. 20 January 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2004. 
  10. ^ "Miller appointed Leicester coach". BBC. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  11. ^ Bradley, Steve (23 October 2012). "Ray Graydon scoops Broad Street Walk of Stars honour". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 

External links[edit]