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Villan on the Spot: Ray Graydon

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Villan on the Spot: Ray Graydon

Supporter Colin Abbott continues his feature series as he meets up with a series of ex-stars to discuss their time with Villa.

Next up we chat to former midfielder Ray Graydon.

Ray Graydon was signed from Bristol Rovers in a deal that saw Villa captain Brian Godfrey move to Eastville.

He was a classy wideman who was pivotal during our Third Division title campaign.

Ray scored 14 in that 1971/72 season - not bad from the wing!

He was the club's leading scorer the following season and eventually netted 81 goals for the club.

In Villa's promotion and League Cup-winning campaign of 1974/75, Graydon - still playing out wide - bagged a staggering 27 goals including the Wembley winner!

Q] How did you come to sign for the Villa?

A] I'd been playing in the Rovers side for about three years since making my debut at 17.

Just before I'd turned 21, manager Bill Dodgin told me Villa were interested.

I shared the news with my dad who said: "Get up that motorway as quick as you can son!"

I was really keen because Villa were a big team.

Vic Crowe had tried to get me on a few occasions but Rovers wouldn't sell.

The only reason the deal went through was because Brian Godfrey moved in the opposite direction.

Q] What were your first impressions?

A] The first thing that stood out in pre-season were these big bags of brand new footballs, I'd never seen anything like it.

We had smart training kit and the facilities at the new training ground were out of this world.

It was at this time that I realised how good Brian Godfrey was - he had joined Rovers but was still training with Villa until he could find a house in Bristol.

Q] Who were your boyhood heroes?

A] I used to go down to Bristol Rovers.

There were players there I was always pleased to watch, including Harold Jarman - a right-winger who I eventually ended up playing alongside.

He said he was pleased I arrived because he was moved to outside-left and it added another two or three years to his career.

Franny Lee was also someone who used to excite me with the pace, aggression and determination in his game.

And he could score a goal as well which obviously ended up being one of my strong points.

Saunders

Q] Who was biggest influence on your career?

A] My father would be the first one. He was a very keen football man and was always there to give me a word of encouragement.

After that there was a guy at Bristol Rovers called Fred Ford who was a fantastic football man.

He was an aggressive character but a fantastic coach and man-manager.

It would be wrong for me not to mention Bobby Campbell, Bill Dodgin and Bert Tann. They all helped me in different ways.

When I went to Villa, Vic Crowe and Ron Wylie also had a strong influence on me. They were all very helpful.

Ron Saunders also needs mentioning.

Q] Who was your most difficult opponent?

A] There was one fellow who stood out and that was Kevin Beattie at Ipswich.

I thought he was absolutely overpowering when I played against him.

I was pretty slick but he was a very difficult lad to get past.

He could also jump another two feet above me.

Q] What was your worst injury?

A] I was pretty lucky in that I didn't have too many problems but there was one that stood out was after a tackle by Albion's Len Cantello.

He came in behind me, went through me and I suffered damaged knee ligaments.

I was in plaster from the tip of my toe up to my groin and it took longer than a broken leg to repair.

Graydon

Q] What was your most memorable game?

A] I suppose it would have to be that 1975 final. That's the one most people remember.

When I meet fans they say: "I was there Ray, in '75!" Others have told me: "My dad was there!"

Q] Why did you leave Villa?

A] Ron Saunders made the decision, I think, to get rid of several of the older people and to get some younger players in.

We went off to Marbella for an end-of-season trip and when I got back to Villa Park Ron said: "Look I've agreed a fee with Leicester for you."

They wanted me to go over and speak to them.

I had a meeting with Frank McLintock but I didn't sign.

I left it at that and then Coventry City got in touch. I have to say I did enjoy it at Coventry, it was a nice club.

Q] What was it like to represent your country?

A] Absolutely fantastic.

The first game I played for the England youth team was at Newport which was good because my family came over from Bristol.

To pull on the national shirt and stand there when the national anthem was being played was one of the biggest things in my life.

Q] Do you still see your former team-mates?

A] Yes Chris Nicholl and I have remained good friends and I see some of the others when I get invited to Villa or Walsall.

Snap up MATCH TICKETS for Villa v Swansea.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 20th October 2015