Edinburgh Monarchs speedway boss Brian Gray dies

Moanrchs director Brian Gray has died. Picture: Ron Macneill

Moanrchs director Brian Gray has died. Picture: Ron Macneill

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Tributes have been paid to one of the saviours of the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway club after he collapsed and died on Thursday.

Brian Gray, affectionately known as Uncle B, came to the rescue in 2012 with a five-figure donation when the club faced financial ruin.

The 64-year-old speedway stalwart joined the board of directors and went on to champion young talent coming through the ranks.

He was also well known for meeting and greeting fans at the gates to the Armadale stadium with a cheerful smile.

Monarchs spokesman Mike Hunter said: “Brian was someone we could turn to, to cheer us up in difficult times.

“He is a great loss to the Monarchs as well as many of us personally.

“We will of course try to keep everyone informed of funeral arrangements.

“Everyone is so shocked and saddened by the news, it is difficult to give any thought to anything else.”

Monarchs were due to take on Berwick Bandits at Armadale last night, with the riders competing under the name “Uncle B’s Monarchs” at the request of club sponsors Border Roofing. However, the meeting was called off due to a waterlogged track.

Co-promoter John Campbell, who learned of the death from one of Mr Gray’s neighbours, described him as one of the “saviours” of the club.

He said: “Brian had made a huge impact in a very short time and will be greatly missed. I am in shock with this dreadful news.

“Four years ago we had a very poor season financially and made it known that we could do with any financial support we could get our hands on – and he came forward out of the blue.

“At the time I didn’t know him at all. He gave a five-figure sum and asked if he could be made a director of the company, which we happily did. Since then he has been an enthusiastic member of the board of directors.

“He was very active and when you asked him to do something he would always say ‘no problem’. He was exceptionally helpful.”

Mr Gray had also found a venue for a junior track, but the club said they didn’t know what would happen to it at this stage because it had been his personal venture.

Monarchs boss Alex Harkness said: “He was trying to get the young team back in the training leagues and he was very much the man behind [junior team] the Dale Devils.”

Mr Gray, who lived alone in Joppa and was described by friends as a “very private man”, had previously worked as a van driver, taxi driver and a bus driver.

The former pupil of the Royal High School, who is understood to have two sons in the city, had told friends that working in an office would have made him “stir crazy”.

Earlier this year he appeared on the TV quiz show The Chase hosted by Bradley Walsh. It is understood that he enjoyed playing snooker and was also a regular at the Ormelie Tavern in Portobello.