By Anton Rippon
John Wray, a football reporter once dubbed by Brian Clough as “that ginger-haired bastard from Bradford”, has died. He was 70.
Wray was reporting on Leeds United for the Bradford Telegraph & Argus when he published a story that Clough did not like.
Clough famously spent just 44 days as Leeds manager. Wray was covering the team’s progress for 50 years.
Wray forged lifelong friendships with many of United’s great team of the 1970s – a few of whom were instrumental in getting Clough the sack.
Wray began his career on the Pudsey & Stanningley News, the paper he joined straight from Allerton Grange School, and he served as its sports editor before turning down the chance to become editor in order to move to the Telegraph & Argus news desk. Eventually he became the paper’s Leeds United correspondent.
In 1990, he became a partner in the Horsforth-based Gosnay’s Sports News Agency, continuing to cover Leeds as a freelance up to the end of last season, when he had completed 50 years.
Wray once described his career as “a journey from sub-editing a football match between Toby Jug v Squinting Cat to reporting on the European Cup final between Bayern Munich and Leeds United”.
An obituary in the Telegraph & Argus described him as “the consummate professional, able to craft his reports to suit the brashness of tabloids or the more considered prose of broadsheets”.
Apparently effortlessly, he often did the two within minutes of each other to terrifyingly tight deadlines.
“And in an age when relations between press and footballers is nowhere near as close as it was when he started, he retained the trust of players and wrote many insightful interviews during his time as editor of the Leeds United match-day programme.”
John Wray leaves a widow, Helen, daughters Liz and Louise and three grandchildren.