68 years in the union for Adelaide Oval legend Les Gray

68 years in the union for Adelaide Oval legend Les Gray

When Les Gray retired in 2015, it was the end of an era.

When Les Gray retired in 2015, it was the end of an era.

Les left school at 12 and went to work at Michel’s wool factory. When he was almost 15, he started working at Bachli Bakery, delivering bread from a horse-drawn cart. He joined the union on the day he got the job in 1948.

“Life was very different then. My granddaughter just interviewed me for a school project, and asked what TV shows I watched when I was little. We didn’t have a TV or a phone back then!”

In 1950 Les went to Broken Hill for a holiday, and met Norma, who had been his pen-friend since he was ten years old. She is now his wife of 66 years.

“We landed in Adelaide with 5 pounds to our name. We put in on a deposit for furniture and a stove, and never looked back!”

Over the years Les has often worked two jobs at a time, and sometimes three. He has worked in a wool factory, several bakeries, pubs, at Victoria Racecourse, he has made garden and children’s furniture, and for the last 43 years he has worked at the Adelaide Oval.

Les knew Don Bradman well from the decades he has spent working at cricket matches, and he has a collection of over 5000 Phantom comics, some from as far back as 1936.

He retired in September 2015 from the Adelaide Oval after 43 years service.

“I worked at the Scoreboard bar – that was my bar for years.

“It’s a busy place. In 2005 at the Australian vs New Zealand cricket match, we did 156 kegs of beer in one day. That’s $130,000 at one bar.

“It’s also heritage listed. When they painted the bricks green, there was such an uproar that they had to clean it off!

“I enjoyed working there. For my 70th birthday they put a message on the scoreboard: Adelaide’s Own Phantom – 70 not out. Happy birthday Les”.

Since retiring, Les is enjoying spending more time with his large family.

“We have 4 children, 13 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren – with another one coming in September.

“That’s more than a hundred Christmas cards every year!”

United Voice would like to thank Les for his 68 years of service, and wishes Les all the best for his retirement.

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