William Patrick “Billy” Gray (1927-2011)

  • Born: 24 May 1927 Ashington, England
  • Died: 11 April 2011, Nottingham, England)


{copied from Nottingham Post 13 April 2011}

FOR Nottingham Forest fans old enough to remember, 1959 was a glorious year.

The club beat Luton Town 2-1 at Wembley to lift the FA Cup for the only time in the last 100 years.

Sadly, there is now only one member of that triumphant team left after one of them, Billy Gray, died this week.

Billy always regarded that season as the best time of his career.

In a recent Forest match-day programme, he said: “Winning the FA Cup was the highlight of my career and the level of football we touched at Forest had to be the best.”

Billy scored five goals during the club’s FA Cup campaign.

In all, he managed to find the net 37 times for Forest in 224 games after signing from Burnley in 1957.

His other clubs included Leyton Orient and Chelsea.

His former Forest team-mate Jeff Whitefoot, who played in the victorious Wembley team, said: “Billy was a wonderful footballer and a very genuine man. I am sad to hear of his passing.

“As a player he was so versatile he could play anywhere and, despite his lack of inches, he would have gone in goal if you had asked him. But he was a very talented player and unbelievably fit as well.

“He could run all day and I think he was still very active well into his retirement.

“Off the field, he was very much a family man but he was a very likeable person and a great colleague who will be sorely missed.”

After retiring as a player, Billy spent a year as Notts County manager between 1967 and 1968 and went on to become groundsman for both Nottingham clubs.

Former Forest boss Brian Clough once said that Billy was far too quick for him to catch.

Billy also became a familiar figure at Trinity School, in Aspley, where he regularly joined football matches with staff members despite being in his 70s. Head teacher Mike McKeever said: “He was a great character and he could really play football even in his 70s. He kept himself in very good condition.

“He also played golf. I recall how one evening he was walking across our pitch with his golf club and dog when he came across a staff game. The next time we played, he came along with his kit.”

Away from football, Billy owned a green grocery business in Wollaton and later ran a fish and chip shop in Beeston Rylands.

Billy, who lived in Aspley, was the youngest of seven brothers and two sisters.

He married Mary in 1955. The couple had five children – Michael, Linda, Chris, Clare and Paul. He died on Monday.