John (Jackie) Bray was born in Oswaldwistle on 22nd April 1909. He played football for Clayton Olympia and Manchester Central before joining Manchester City for a fee of £1,000 in 1929.
Manchester City finished in 3rd place in the 1929-30 season. Bray only played in two games at left-half that season. The following season he made the position his own.
Wilf Wild became the manager of Manchester City on 14th March 1932. That season the club could only finish 14th in the league. However, they enjoyed a good FA Cup run. Fred Tilson scored a hat-trick in City's 9-0 victory over Gateshead. Eric Brook scored both goals against Walsall (2-0) and a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers (4-2). Tilson scored against Burnley (1-0) and Derby County (3-2) and Manchester City had reached the final at Wembley. The Everton team that day included players such as Dixie Dean, Cliff Britton, Ted Sager and Albert Geldard. With Tilson missing because of injury, City lost the game 3-0.
In the 1933-34 season Manchester City finished 5th in the First Division of the Football League. The club also enjoyed a good FA Cup run beating Blackburn Rovers (3-1), Hull City (4-1), Sheffield Wednesday (2-0), Stoke City (1-0), Aston Villa (6-1) to reach the final against Portsmouth. On the way to Wembley the goals had been scored by Fred Tilson (7), Alec Herd (4) and Eric Brook (3). The defence, that included players such as Jackie Bray, Frank Swift, Sam Cowan and Matt Busby also performed well.
Manchester City played Portsmouth in the final at Wembley. Fred Tilson had such a terrible injury record that when Sam Cowan introduced him to George VI before the game, he said: "This is Tilson, your Majesty. He's playing today with two broken legs." It was a good job that Tilson did play as he scored both of the goals in the 2-1 victory to increase his total to nine in eight cup games that season.
Bray won his first international cap for England against Wales on 29th September 1934. The England team that day included Cliff Britton, Edwin Bowden, Fred Tilson, Stanley Matthews, Ray Westwood, Eric Brook, Tom Cooper, and Eddie Hapgood. England won the game 4-0. The following season he played in the games against Northern Ireland (3-1) and Germany (3-0).
In 1936 Wilf Wild purchased Peter Doherty from Blackpool for a club record fee of £10,000. Manchester City won the First Division title in the 1936-37 season and Doherty ended up as the top scorer with 30 goals. Eric Brook (20), Alec Herd (17) and Fred Tilson (15) also contributed that year. The team also included Jackie Bray, Frank Swift and Sam Barkas.
However, the following season the club finished in 21st position and was relegated to the Second Division. Bray played his last game for England against Scotland on 17th April 1937. England lost the game 3-1.
Bray's football career was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War. By the time the Football League started again after the war he was 37 years old and was unable to regain his place in the side.
Jackie Bray died in Blackburn on 20th November 1982.