GEORGE BRAY 

By Tony Scholes
Last updated : 14 June 2011

Date and Place of Birth

11th November 1918 - Oswaldtwistle

died 13th February 2002

 

Transfers to and from Burnley

from Great Harwood Town - October 1937

retired - May 1952

 

First and Last Burnley Games

Luton Town (h) - 1st October 1938

 

Stoke City (a) - 29th September 1951

 

Other Clubs

none

 

 

Burnley Career Stats

 

Season League FA Cup League Cup Others Total
                     
  apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls apps gls
1938/39 34 - 1 - - - - - 35 -
1946/47 41 2 9 - - - - - 50 2
1947/48 42 3 1 - - - - - 43 3
1948/49 39 1 3 1 - - - - 42 2
1949/50 33 1 3 - - - - - 36 1
1950/51 42 1 1 - - - - - 43 1
1951/52 10 - - - - - - - 10 -
                     
Total 241 8 18 1 - - - - 259 9

 

Profile by Tony Scholes

 

The phrase 'A great servant to the club' is often mentioned about players, even when they've only been at the club for a couple of years. Yet for George Bray that phrase takes on a whole new meaning.

George joined the club in the 1930s and his employment ended in the 1990s. He'd been with the club as player, trainer, coach and kit man during a period that spanned seven different decades.

He was born in Oswaldtwistle on a very special day, the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. He started his football career with Great Harwood Town before signing for the Clarets in October 1937 just before his 18th birthday. He played regularly in the reserves until a year later he was called up to the first team for a Turf Moor debut against Luton.

It wasn't to be a one off appearance. He kept his place for the following game, in fact he kept his place for the rest of his playing career which came to an end in the early 1950s.

Sadly George was one of many players who lost much of his career to World War II. He'd played 35 games during that 1938/39 season before League football was suspended after war broke out just after the start of the 1939/40 season.

He was in the team that brought pre-war football to an end for Burnley and he was back in the side when post-war football started although by now he was aged 27 and heading closer to the end of his career.

The Halley-Boyle-Watson half back line of the era around World War I was a famous one, but that of Attwell-Brown-Bray in the immediate post-war era of the late 1940s served Burnley just as well.

George was in the team that won promotion and played in the FA Cup Final of 1947 and remained in the side until ten games into the 1951/52 season. He'd hardly missed a game other than during an injury in 1949/50 and by now had played over 250 games for his only club.

But time was catching up with him and with the emergence of Jimmy Adamson at right half we moved Attwell to left half at the expense of Bray who played on for another year in the reserves before hanging up his boots.

If anyone thought that was the end of his Burnley career they couldn't have been more wrong, it was if anything just the start. He was immediately taken on the staff as A team trainer and by the time I was first watching Burnley he'd been promoted to the same position with the reserve team.

Trainer then meant coach now, but his duties also included treating injured players on the pitch. He carried nothing like the physios of today do, but that magic sponge worked wonders on just about every kind of injury.

When Ray Bennion retired that meant George Bray was trainer for the first team working alongside manager Harry Potts and new coach Jimmy Adamson. But eventually he was replaced by Brian Miller and eventually left Turf Moor in 1974. Those who had worked for him, players coming through at Burnley, would always tell you that he was a very hard taskmaster but also very fair.

His time at Burnley was still not over and after not too long he returned as kit manager and carried out his duties with distinction until he retired in the 1990s at a time when Jimmy Mullen was manager.

It was during this period that I first got to know George Bray and knowing him was a real privilege. He was so fiercely loyal to the club and you dared criticise it at your peril when speaking to him.

Mind you he wasn't one for getting carried away. One year I thought we might have some promising youngsters in the youth team and dared to tell him so. He quickly pointed out that none of them had a chance of making it, and he was right.

Back in 1980 I was watching a pre-season game at Gawthorpe when one of the new apprentices came on as a substitute. He looked good, no he looked very good. I said to George: "Who's this, he looks good George." Back came the reply: "He's not bad." The player in question was Trevor Steven.

I had a long chat with him one day when we were at our lowest in the 1980s. He promised me that one day we would rise again and be a top division club. He admitted that he might not be around to see it but said I would. "No way, George," I said. "Nah then," he replied, "I've teld thi' we will." Somehow he made you believe him.

He saw us climb two divisions and when he passed away in February 2002 we were well placed in the league with a real chance of going up to the Premier League. It didn't happen, but when it does George will be watching from above and I'll remember what he told me.

Hard and fair they said, and he was. And I can tell you he really was Burnley through and through and he was someone I thought the world of him and I wasn't the only one. Directors past and present and so many former Burnley players and managers attending his funeral along with fans.

George Bray really was a great servant to Burnley Football Club - and he's someone that some of us will never forget.

 

Subsequent to the writing of this article Burnley did reach the Premier League, and I'm sure George would have been looking down as proud as punch. "Nah then," he told me. "I've teld thi' we will." I never forgot George.

Burnley Match Reports


Trending on the boards