This is the first in a series that looks at the greats (and goods) of the beautiful game that went on to sully the ears of footy fans around the world in the cushy confines of the commentary booth. Our first victim: Ol’ Take-a-bow himself, Andy Gray
“It’s defending to make strikers look utterly useless and very small.”
–Andy Gray, usually right before a defender turns the ball right back over in the EA FIFA series
In a way, it’s fitting that Gray went on to become the John Madden of world football. He’s an outsized personality with a way of saying the most mundane things in the most grandiose ways. He also came to prominence in the late 70s and early 80s for his work on the field, and slowly faded into the self-parody you see today. Let’s take a look back, shall we?
Andy Gray started out at Dundee United in 1973, where he tallied 46 goals in 62 appearances. He transferred to Aston Villa in 1975, where he combined very ably indeed with Brian Little (per the above video of League Cup highlights, the pair combined for 55! goals). Gray was sold for a then-British Record 1.5 million GBP to Wolves, moving throughout his career to Everton, back to Villa, West Brom and Rangers before ending his career as a reserve at Cheltenham Town, having scored 178 goals in 493 games. He’s been on six trophy winning sides, having won the League Cup with Villa and Wolves, the old First Division, FA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup with Everton, and the Scottish Premier League title with Rangers.
Gray was, in his time, a rangy target man, good in the air, but still decent with his feet; you can see his range of skills in this compilation of his work at Everton. He was a classic number 9; maybe not as revered as Dalglish, Rush, Greaves or Cruyff as a striker, but certainly effective. And you don’t get to set a transfer record if you’re not a proper player.
Gray debuted on Sky Sports in 1992, after two years of attempting a coaching career. Listen here to some of the “inside info”he gives in this video from an Ipswich-Tottenham tilt, relating a story from his coaching term at Aston Villa that really adds nothing other than the insight that the Tottenham staff like winning. You don’t say, Andy.
When he’s got the time to research his punditry, he’s even worse, showing himself to be a HUGE frontrunner in his “top 10 of the decade.”
Or read his way-off analysis of the Carling Cup action, here.
Gray was, perhaps most famously, guilty of two incredibly poor showings of sexism in 2011 that ended in his ouster from Sky Sports. The first is his conversation with Richard Keys about Sian Massey’s performance as an assistant referee for Liverpool-Wolves. Shortly after that, he was also caught asking fellow presenter Charlotte Johnson to “tuck his microphone pack in for [him].” *shudder* But Gray and Keys have since returned to sully the medium of radio, and now host a morning show on Talksport. England rejoices.
Gray does have a loyal following, as visible when he and Keys were about to be fired for their idiocy. Presumably, Gray is enjoyed for his enthusiasm for the game and breathless slobbering over the microphone. However, he is the subject of pitiful reviews from the football cognoscenti, who know in their hearts that Ray Hudson is the way to do flowery football exuberance.
What a piss poor pundit.