My Yorkshire: Leeds Utd legend Eddie Gray on his favourite people and places

Eddie Gray is one of the most popular players in the history of Leeds United for whom he made almost 600 appearances. Appointed a club ambassador in 2013, he now commentates on games, home and away, for Leeds United TV.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 5th September 2016, 2:04 pm
Updated Monday, 5th September 2016, 3:06 pm
Former Leeds Utd footballer Eddie Gray.
Former Leeds Utd footballer Eddie Gray.

What is your first Yorkshire memory? Before I came to Leeds, I was playing for Glasgow Schoolboys against Lanarkshire Schoolboys and the Leeds scout, John Barr, told my father that he’d like me to visit Leeds United who had a young manager called Don Revie. I was 14, and to be honest, I was a Celtic fan and wanted to play for them. I’d never heard of Leeds United. I got on the train by myself and was picked up by Don’s right hand man Maurice Lindley. It was Christmas 1962 and there was snow everywhere... I never got homesick, the Yorkshire folk were very friendly and Don was always thoughtful about families and sent the boys home every six weeks.

What is your favourite part of Yorkshire and why? I love the Harrogate area and I love Kirkby Overblow where we live. Linda, my wife, and I love the Dales and we love going up to Malham to walk and climb. The views there are stunning and wonderful.

What is your idea of a perfect day out or weekend out in Yorkshire? My perfect day is a Sunday when the kids and grandchildren come here for lunch. If it’s a nice day, we’ll sit outside and look at the great view here and if the sun’s out, we sit outside and have a drink and a barbecue.

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Eddie Gray would like to take horse trainer Harvey Smith out to lunch.

Do you have a favourite walk or view? I love going to Knaresborough and walking along the River Nidd. I saw a kingfisher there once. You go down Abbey Road and it’s so peaceful. Both of us love that walk.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take out for lunch? It would have to be the show jumper Harvey Smith. He’s such a character. I’ve always liked him and Harvey used to come to Kirkby Overblow.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take out for dinner? That would have to be Judi Dench who’s a great actress. I see she’s been involved with the Olympics. I also think that having dinner with Alan Bennett would be a good laugh.

What do you think it is that gives Yorkshire its unique identity? The people. They embrace Yorkshire and call it God’s Own Country or County. They are very proud of the place. We are so lucky here. We’re only 25 minutes into Leeds and 10 minutes or so into Harrogate. York’s not far, and when you’re in Sheffield, you’re soon into the countryside. Yorkshire folk are warm and since I came here full time aged 15, I’ve been treated very well. Yorkshire is a terrific place and more and more people are beginning to realise that.

Eddie Gray enjoys a walk along the River Nidd at Knaresborough.

Do you follow other sports in the county and, if so, what? I like most sports. I love golf and play at Pannal near Harrogate. I’m off 11. I love tennis, too. We went to Wimbledon this year and saw Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Andy Murray on the Centre Court.

I’m fond of horse racing, and I don’t think there’s a better course in the country than York.

I am also into cricket. I’m so pleased for Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root is a tremendous talent. I knew Jonny’s dad well and Jonny at one point used to play at the Leeds United academy and I’d see him up there. I’m delighted he’s doing so well with England and I keep sending him texts. I take an interest in Leeds Rhinos and what a great team they’ve been in recent years.

If you had to name your hidden Yorkshire gem, what would it be? That’s a hard question, but the thing about Yorkshire is that you can always see something spectacular. We like Robin Hood’s Bay, and Filey, Scarborough and Bridlington all have something to offer. The thing is that if you live in a city you don’t have far to go to be in the countryside or at the coast.

Eddie Gray would like to take horse trainer Harvey Smith out to lunch.

Do you have a favourite Yorkshire restaurant or pub? We have two good pubs who do excellent food in Kirkby Overblow – the Star and Garter and the Shoulder of Mutton. We still like the Flying Pizza at Roundhay in Leeds, but if we were to pick a restaurant Linda and I like, we love the Italian place at Hornbeam Park, Al Bivio, in Harrogate.

Who is the Yorkshire person you admire the most? I’m not musical and I’m not a great reader, but I have great admiration for Fanny Waterman. I’ve been to listen to some of the best, young musicians in the world in Leeds and that’s down to Fanny. What she has done for the city of Leeds is amazing and as a Yorkshire person she’s done a lot for Yorkshire.

How do you think Yorkshire has changed, for the better or worse, in the time you’ve known it? Definitely for the better. You go back to 1962 and Leeds now is not the same city. It’s vibrant and is much more of a financial centre and you only have to look at the big shops who’ve moved here and are coming here. Sheffield has changed too.

Yorkshire people now have the opportunity to do well for themselves. 
It’s been a great place for me in the last 50 years. I’ve been very fortunate with my football career playing with great players. I used to sit in the dressing room and think there’s no way we are going to get beaten today– that’s a great feeling.

Eddie Gray enjoys a walk along the River Nidd at Knaresborough.