George Bray dies at 83

Last updated : 14 February 2002 By Tony Scholes

It is always difficult to have to write about the death of anyone who has been connected with Burnley Football Club but it is doubly difficult for me with George because I not only knew him well but considered him to be a friend.

George had played for the Clarets before World War II and returned to Turf Moor after the war to form a formidable half back line of Attwell, Brown and Bray in 1946 as the Clarets won promotion to the First Division and went to Wembley for the FA Cup Final.

When he retired he had played a total of 241 league games for the Clarets and his last game was at Stoke in October 1951. He joined the staff at the Turf after that and by the time I was taking my first steps on the terraces George was the reserve team trainer.

Apart from training the team the duties always involved acting as medical man on match days. There was no sign of a physio running on then, in fact that didn't appear at Burnley until 1979, and my first recollections of George were seeing him run on to treat an injured player armed with a mass of medical equipment, it was known as the magic sponge. It seemed that was all they took with them no matter what the injury.

He stepped up to the first team when Ray Bennion retired and continued in that role until he left, not of his own choosing, and went to work at the hospital. He did return sometime after Adamson left and became the club's kit man.

It was at this time that I got to know George and I have had many a laugh with the man who had the same ability as Les Dawson, to be funny without even coming close to a smile appearing on his face.

On the night we won at Deepdale in 1988 to reach Wembley for the first time in 26 years there are pictures on the club video of the scenes in the dressing room at the end of the game. Champagne is flowing and it is a party atmosphere, but then suddenly George comes across the screen complaining that there is a sock missing. I'm sure though I did see a smile on his face that night.

He was very loyal where Burnley Football Club were concerned and during those dark days of the 1980s he always used to promise me that we would one day return to the top division. If I dared to suggest otherwise George would always say to me, "Nah then, just you wait and see". To be honest I didn't believe him even then. Surely we had gone too far to ever climb back.

As George sadly leaves us we are so much closer to that return than I think even he could have ever dared believe. It would be the most wonderful tribute to George if we could do it for him.

There will be a minute's silence before our home game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Along with everyone at Clarets Mad my thoughts and prayers are very much with George's family at this very sad time.