Archie's Goal Continues Gray Family Legacy

25 Feb 2024 08:40 am, by YorkshireSquare

Archie Gray’s debut for Leeds United against Cardiff City in the first game of the season means that since his great uncle Eddie first took to the field for The Whites in January 1966 at least one member of the Gray family has appeared over a quarter of Leeds United's league games since. With 1,060 now appearances over 57 years make the Gray family somewhat of a Leeds United dynasty. The first of the clan to play for Leeds United was Eddie Gray, making his debut on 1st January 1966 against Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 17 years, 350 days.

Eddie was a cultured winger who was an integral member of the legendary Revie team of the 1960s and 1970s. Eddie was without doubt the most gifted player ever to play for Leeds United, he was arguably better than George Best but did not get the same recognition. Gray was a schoolboy international for Scotland, and signed professional forms for Leeds at the age of sixteen in January 1965. When Eddie first came to Leeds he played in a practice match against the first team, after the game Jack Charlton told Don Revie that Leeds had better sign him as he did not want to have to play against him twice a season.

A winger in the classic mould, Gray was feted in world football for his ability to beat opposing full backs for 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 and then the League championship a year later.

He was in the team which won the FA Cup against Arsenal in 1972, but missed out on a league winners medal when Leeds finally won the League again in 1974 thanks to more injury woes. From 1970 to 1975, when his skills should have been at their zenith and when he should have had the footballing world at his feet, he made just eighty-two League appearances. Written off by some but encouraged by Jimmy Armfield, he fought his way back to full health playing in the team which controversially lost the 1975 European Cup final in Paris to Bayern Munich. Also in the team that night was his younger brother Frank. In 579 appearances for Leeds, Eddie scored 69 goals.

Frank, like his brother came through the junior ranks at Leeds United, making his debut on 10th February 1973 at the age of 18 years, 106 days.

Although not as gifted as elder brother Eddie, Frank won thirty-two caps for Scotland in a career which saw him avoid major injury. He turned professional in November 1971 and, after two games as a substitute, one in the League at Leicester City on 10th February 1973, and the second in an away European Cup-winners' Cup tie with Rapid Bucharest on 21st March 1973, scored on his full debut on 21st April 1973 against Crystal Palace at Elland Road, to emulate another feat of his elder brother.

Frank was one of the new generation of Leeds United players of the mid-1970s charged with the task of maintaining the club's success after the Don Revie era. He got his real chance during the 1974-1975 season, making eighteen appearances in the League and usurping Trevor Cherry for the No.3 shirt in the European Cup final in Paris, which Leeds lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich. As the Revie team disbanded due to age, Revie himself had quit for the England manager's job the year before, Gray found himself tagged as one of the bright young stars who would try to maintain the standard of the previous team, alongside the likes of Gordon McQueen and Joe Jordan.

He was such a naturally gifted player that things came easy to him. He had speed, was a superb passer of the ball and read the game with intelligence, took penalties with ease and played a simple but stylish game. Like Eddie, he also played on the left but in a deeper midfield role, later he switching to left back and often played in the same team as his elder brother, providing United with a very solid left side. Frank departed for Nottingham Forest in 1979, featuring for them in the 1980 European Cup final, the first player to appear in the final for two different English clubs. It didn’t work out for him at Forest however, returning to Leeds in 1981, making 407 appearances in total, scoring 35 goals. Apart from being the younger brother of Eddie Gray he is also the father of Andy Gray.

Son of Frank Gray, nephew Eddie, Andy made his Leeds United debut on 19th September 1995 against Notts County at the age of 17 years, 308 days.

Andy started his career as a midfield player and winger in his Uncle Eddie’s mould, but later moved further forward to a more attacking role as striker. Andy joined Leeds as a Youth Trainee and signed professional forms in the summer of 1995. Remarkably his fourth start in a game for Leeds was as an eighteen year-old in the 1996 Coca-Cola Cup Final against Aston Villa at Wembley, where he was acclaimed as United’s star performer. But after failing to push on and falling out of the first team picture he spent two months with Bury in 1997-98.

Like his father, he moved to Nottingham Forest in September 1998, after it had become clear he would not make it at Elland Road. In August 2005 Gray returned to the Premier League after he signed for Sunderland, however, his second stint in the Premiership was a nightmare and he moved to Burnley in the summer of 2006. His 2006-07 season was disrupted by a broken metatarsal, incurred against Leeds United, but both before and after the injury he scored regularly.

After a short spell at Barnsley, part of the side that beat Leeds 5-2 on 14th September 2009, he was released by the Oakwell club at the end of the 2011-12 season. He was linked with a move to Bradford City, but instead signed a short-term contract with Leeds United and made his debut in a pre-season friendly at Farsley AFC, scoring twice on 20th July 2012. He signed a one-year contract on 23rd July 2013 and was allocated played his first League game of his secoind spell at Leeds as an eighty-seventh minute subsitute at Peterborough United on 25th August 2012. Across his two spells at Leeds United, Andy made 38 appearances scoring 1 goal.

On 6th August 2023, Archie Gray became the youngest of the Gray family to make his debut for Leeds United when he started against Cardiff City at just 17 years, 147 days.

Born in Durham, Archie joined Leeds United at junior level, rapidly progressing through the academy. Marcelo Bielsa clearly saw promise, arranging with St John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate for Gray to miss classes to attend training. On 18th December 2021, Archie was named on the bench for the Premier League game against Arsenal. Had he featured, he would've broken the record for Leeds United's youngest player, set in 1962 by Peter Lorimer. He made the bench a further five times in the 2021-2022 season and was an unnamed substitute a further 7 times during the 2022-2023 season before making his debut this season.

Archie has looked mature beyond his years this season whenever he has played, impressing fans and picking up the man of the match award on his debut. With his goal against Leicester City on Friday evening Archie becomes the fourth member of his family to score for the club, the Gray clan have now netted a total of 106 goals for the club. The future of the Gray dynasty at Leeds United certainly looks bright, especially when you consider Archie has a younger brother Harry, who plays for the Leeds United academy. It may not be so long before we see two Gray brothers gracing the pitch together for Leeds United once more.

Stats from LUFCDATA and Jonny Cooper.