It’s fair to say that Brian Gray was not a name that rang a bell with many supporters when he was unveiled as Edinburgh Monarchs’ newest speedway director at the club’s open meeting at Livingston Football Club this week.
Gray handed over a large cheque to help Monarchs stave off closure and was opted on to the board where he revealed today that he hopes he “can chip in with a few ideas.”
But the former taxi driver has methanol running through his veins and said: “I have been a speedway fan for decades, particularly Edinburgh Monarchs whom I have followed since the ’60s.
“I stepped forward because I really felt this was going to be a tough winter for them and if there was something I could do to help or ease things I would, and luckily I found myself in a position to do so.”
Gray, who lives in the east of the Capital, said his financial assistance was neither a donation nor an investment, but admitted: “It was a condition that I became a director in order to maintain an interest in the considerable sum of money I have put in.
“I wanted some sort of security and also some sort of say in how things are run. I think I can bring some fresh thinking to the boardroom, and the plan of having a sub-committee of young people which has been mooted is a marvellous idea. Coupled with that I think I can chip in with a few ideas of my own.”
Asked if he believes things can be run more efficiently on Friday nights at Armadale, Gray replied: “Everybody has tried their best, and like a lot of supporters I’ve had a little moan about something or other. Monarchs have a mature board of directors who have worked together for 20 years and if they can’t do it right nobody can, but that doesn’t mean things cannot be improved upon.”
The relief among Monarchs’ strong band of supporters was almost tangible when it was announced they would take their place in the Premier League in 2013 after fans pledged almost £30,000 to keep them racing.
And Gray said: “The manner in which everybody has rallied round to keep Monarchs going is incredible and underlines we have the best supporters in the league, there is an air of optimism and positivity that we have never seen before.
“Everybody is buzzing and looking forward to the start of the season in March. We can sit back, but not on our laurels, now that Monarchs’ future is secure, and I’m also confident that our relationship with our neighbouring speedway tracks is going to be better next year. Glasgow have a new promoter, as do Workington, and if we all work together it can only be for the good of speedway as a whole.”
Gray doesn’t make light of the battle to attract those deserting supporters back through the turnstiles and is in no doubt the dreadful weather was a prime cause for their absence.
“We all know Armadale has a micro climate – you only have to travel ten miles from the place and it can be dry which was very often the case this season, but we have also won the league title three times in ten years and perhaps fans had become a bit blasé about that.
“Hopefully if we keep most of this year’s team for next year we could do well.
“They all bond together and importantly all want to come back.”
However there is a feeling that some of the Monarchs squad have become a bit stale and a freshening up may be required. Gray added: “I don’t know much about the management side of things, I’ve got nothing but praise for this year’s Monarchs team.
“But if they have a lean time and don’t have an appetite for the game, they may well have to go – but I hope not.”
Monarchs confirmed they will open the new season in March with the staging of the Scottish Open Championship.