Swapping Leeds United bench role for Bantams promotion bid suits Gray (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Swapping Leeds United bench role for Bantams promotion bid suits Andy Gray
Andy Gray is relishing his second coming at City after admitting his spell with Leeds had been a “waste of time”.
Gray will don the claret and amber against Oxford tomorrow for the first time since February 2004 – and he is desperate to kick-start a campaign that has been mainly spent stuck on the Elland Road sidelines.
The 35-year-old chose Championship football at one of his old West Yorkshire clubs over another after City lost out in the summer. But the chance to stay in the second tier soon soured when he found himself a permanent fixture on the bench.
Gray said: “I knew I wouldn’t be playing regularly when I went to Leeds but I thought I’d get more of a chance than I did. When I’ve come on, it’s only been ten minutes here and there.
“I could have stayed until the summer and sat on the bench but I just wanted to get playing again.
“I felt like I was wasting my time.
“I had quite a few offers last summer with a couple from League One and other Championship clubs but I had my heart set on coming to Bradford.
“It was only when Leeds came in at the last minute and it was Neil Warnock, who I’d played for before, that I decided to go there. But it didn’t happen for me.
“I was coming on quite a bit at the start of the season but (Luciano) Becchio has scored 19 goals and he was the one that I would have replaced if he’d got injured.
“He’s been in great form so it’s not really given me many openings. I’ve spent too much time sat on the bench.”
The faces may have changed completely from his first stint at Valley Parade but Gray has done his homework.
He was in the crowd to see them knock out Arsenal in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals and then watched Aston Villa taken apart the other night.
“They’ve had so many games and it’s fantastic how well they’ve played and been very successful in the cup.
“Ultimately promotion is also the aim and that’s well within the grasp.
“Clubs love coming to Valley Parade because it’s the best stadium in the league and people tend to raise their game.
“We’re there to be fired at but it should be taken as a compliment.”
Parkinson sees his new signing, like Gary Jones, as the ideal example to guide the youngsters in the squad. But Gray, who played at Wembley with Leeds as a raw 18-year-old, reckons they are learning fast.
He added: “I’ll try my best to give them any sort of help but they seem to be doing very well themselves at the moment.
“I remember everybody saying to me when I played in the League Cup final to take it in because it flies by. I heard it on the day of the game and was sat there thinking ‘yeah, yeah’.
“You don’t appreciate it at the time. But you learn to either sink or swim – you either respond to the big occasion or you don’t.
“It’s the same for the young players now. Everything else that gets thrown at them won’t be so much of a problem.”