Ray Graydon

Ray Graydon was appointed as the manager of Bristol Rovers on April 25 2002, just over four months after his dismissal from First Division Walsall.

The former Saddlers boss was installed as the permanent replacement for Garry Thompson who had been sacked earlier in the month after just four months in his second spell in charge of team affairs.

It was a welcome return to his hometown club for Graydon, who began his professional career with the Pirates having signed from apprentice. He spent almost six years with Rovers before joining Aston Villa.

He is known by many in the Midlands for his time as a player at Villa Park for whom he scored the winner in the 1975 League Cup Final against Norwich City, although he also played for Coventry City and Oxford as well as spending some time in the USA.

As a manager, Graydon had been the surprising choice to replace Jan Sorensen in The Saddlers hot-seat during the course of the 1998 pre-season break. A disciplined and intelligent man, Graydon had ended the 1997/98 campaign working as a coach at Port Vale, where he was an instrumental figure in helping the Valiants avoid relegation.

Vastly experienced as a coach, Graydon had never previously sampled life in the manager's chair. Despite this, he made an impressive start, guiding Walsall to automatic promotion to Division One for the first time in their history in his first season in charge.

He was unable to keep The Saddlers up the following season as they were relegated, finishing in 22nd place, but the 2000/2001 campaign saw the club reach the play-offs as they looked for an immediate return to the First Division.

Victories over Stoke and Reading saw Walsall promoted once again and the good-natured banter between Graydon and his counterpart Alan Pardew in the final displayed the respect that the Saddlers boss commands among his managerial colleagues.

Once again Walsall struggled to cope with life in Division One however and Graydon was somewhat surprisingly dismissed by the club in January 2002 and replaced by Colin Lee with the team in the relegation zone.

He was given the opportunity to return to management, and to Bristol, by the Pirates four months later and arrived hoping to help the club progress in Division Three after they finished second bottom of the Football League in 2002.

Graydon helped them secure their league status once again in 2002/03 as Rovers finished in 20th position – three points clear of relegation.

In 2003/04, Rovers were comfortably in mid-table when Graydon left the club. An announcement on January 20th confirmed that they had parted company with their manager following a verbal agreement.

Since leaving Bristol Rovers, Graydon worked for a period with the LMA as a Regional Representative for managers.

Honours (1)
  • personal-awards
    • Walsall:
      • Manager of the Month, Sky Bet League One, (2000-08-01)
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