Kid sensation

Eddie Gray against the world (1970)

Written by: Moxcowhite • Daniel Chapman
Artwork by: Eamonn Dalton
Eddie Gray with the ball at his feet in the 1970 FA Cup final, about to rinse another Chelsea defender

We can learn something about 1970s football from how little footage there is to watch of young Eddie Gray dazzling on the wing for Leeds, or his closest equivalent in talent, George Best at Old Trafford. There are highlight reels, sure, but you soon realise how much film they repeat. It’s not only that there were fewer cameras. Read the stories of Gray and Best and you realise they weren’t allowed to play delightful, crowd pleasing football for long. In Best’s case, it was because too many hangers-on were proud to take him away from the pitch. For Gray, too many cloggers were determined to kick him off it.

Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris of Chelsea was one, but it’s important to know he was not as good at it as his nickname suggests. For years after the 1970 FA Cup final replay Harris boasted that he’d dealt with Gray, star of the first match, within five minutes. The game is on the internet now so anyone can watch and see that’s a lie. Harris tried, but it wasn’t until nearly half-time that he got close enough to Gray to hack at the back of his knees, forty minutes Harris pretended for forty years didn’t exist. Even then, hobbled as he was, Gray limped through an intelligent second half, moving inside so Terry Cooper could terrorise Harris from left-back.

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