Stuart Gray makes a return to the Reading line-up
FPA membership Secretary, Ron Grant is pleased to announce that 41 year-old Stuart Gray is the latest former player to join the FPA.
The former Scottish U21 international was signed by Tommy Burns as one of a group of seven players signed on what was deadline day at the end of March 1998. In what was an attempt to strengthen the squad and avert the impending relegation from Division Two.
Stuart was the last signing of the seven players that transferred in that day and at 4.35pm was still involved in a press conference being held at the Reading training ground in Sonning.
In those days, contract forms had to be with the league by a 5.00pm deadline. At 4.35pm Stuart’s forms were still at the training ground but the machine to fax them to the league H.Q. in Lancashire was at Elm Park!
Ron explains, ‘At that time I was the kitman. I had the wheels and could travel, so I became the volunteer express delivery man that tackled the Reading rush hour traffic to make Elm Park before the deadline expired. Andrea, the club secretary, was waiting for my arrival at the door. I made it with about 3 minutes to spare!’
‘The Honda team minibus had never travelled so fast through Reading, although Bobby Williams, former player and youth team manager, might choose to disagree.’
‘When I phoned Stuart to invite him to join us, we shared a laugh or two as we did throughout his time with us. It was nice to speak to him again after nearly 15 years,’ Ron continued.
Having played over 30 times for Celtic, Stuart followed his former Celtic boss to Berkshire in a £100,000 deal.
Whilst at Reading, he was used predominantly at left back making 64 appearances before a groin injury and back trouble restricted his first team outings. Comfortable on the ball and a good passer with a powerful shot, he scored twice during his Reading career.
With the purchase of Matt Robinson in 2000, he struggled to keep his place and finally left Madejski Stadium in 2001 and joined Rushden and Diamonds.
Stuart is now living back in his birth town of Harrogate in West Yorkshire, and is still involved in football with non-league Guiseley AFC. A UEFA B qualified coach, he is “The Loins” Youth Academy Assistant Manager.
It is hoped that Stuart can soon accept an invitation to attend a match at the Madejski Stadium as guest of the Former Players Association.
24 February 2015