History

Grays Athletic celebrated their Centenary in 1990, and played at The Recreation Ground, Bridge Road from 1906 to 2010, and became members of the Athenian League in 1912.


Grays became very strong after the Second World War, winning the Essex Senior Cup in 1945 and winning the Corinthian League and Cup in 1946. They rejoined the Athenian League in 1958 where they remained until 1983.


In 1981 the Club Patron, Mr. Ron Billings purchased the ground and the Club was reformed as a Limited Company in 1982 under the guidance of Jeff and Fred Saxton.


In 1983 a fire destroyed the 400-seater stand which included the dressing and kit rooms. Ron Billings came to the rescue by building the Ball Court Complex which included Dressing Rooms, Club Room and bar. Grays went on to become Division 2 Champions in 1985.


The 1987/88 season saw the club promoted to the then Vauxhall Opel Premier League after amassing 100 points. They won the Essex Senior Cup and the Essex Thameside Trophy.


A great FA Cup run in 1988/89 ended in the First Round proper, losing 2-0 away at Bath City. Grays won the League Cup, defeating Enfield in 1991/92


In 1993/94 and 1994/95 the club won the Essex Senior Cup by defeating Billericay Town on both occasions. Relegated to Division One in 1997, they returned to the Premier Division in 1999/00.


The FA Cup campaign in 2000/01 ended with defeat in the First Round proper for the third time, losing 4-0 away at Reading.


This signalled the start of changes with Mike Woodward installed as Director of Football, Craig Edwards as Manager and the departure of Jeff and Fred Saxton after 30 years of loyal service.


Season 2002/03 started poorly and saw Edwards depart, being replaced by Mark Stimson as player manager who appointed Scott Barrett as his assistant.


Ahead of the 2003/04 season, the club made the bold decision to turn most of the players into full time professionals, with the majority of players in their early twenties.


Despite being knocked out of the FA Cup in the second qualifying round, 2004/05 became the most successful in the clubs history. Stimson and his players won a number of manager and player of the month awards, with three players being called into the England National XI squad; Stuart Thurgood, Mitchell Cole and Dennis Oli. The ultimate success being crowned League Champions of the Nationwide Conference South and winning the FA Trophy; beating Hucknall Town on penalties at Villa Park. Additionally, The Recreation Ground had been upgraded sufficiently to allow for promotion into the Nationwide Conference for season 2005/06.


Mark Stimson's philosophy of entertaining the crowds, proved to be very successful with a blend of youthful exuberance and the outstanding quality of the more experienced players.


Having equalled the Conference record of Kettering Town and going unbeaten in the first 15 fixtures of the season, both manager and players alike won several monthly awards. A contentious 3-0 defeat at the hands of Mansfield Town in the FA Cup was put to one side as the team turned their attention to the FA Trophy and the league.


The club's first season in the top flight of non-league football ended in disappointment as they finished 3rd in the league, and went on to lose 5-4 on aggregate to Halifax Town in the play-offs. The team put the loss behind them as they won a second successive FA Trophy, this time winning 2-0 against Woking at Upton Park in front of more than 8,000 of their own fans.


Following Mark Stimson's resignation, the club appointed former European Cup winner Frank Gray to manage the side in the summer of 2006. Despite the pre-season expectations, Gray only lasted 18 matches before both Jamie Stuart and Mick Woodward had short spells in charge of the first team. Andy King was appointed manager, but his spell was short lived and he left shortly afterwards, taking control of just of just seven matches. Justin Edinburgh was the club's' 4th manager of the season, and under his leadership the club reached the FA Trophy semi-finals where they lost to eventual winners Stevenage Borough. Survival in the league went to the last day of the season and despite losing 1-0 away at Morecambe, the club stayed up courtesy of other results going their way.


An extremely indifferent 2007/08 campaign ultimately led to Edinburgh's departure, before once again Mick Woodward took the reins with Gary Phillips as his assistant. With only three defeats in the final 17 games, Grays only ended 11 points outside the play-offs.


The management led the side into the following season, but Mick Woodward stepped down, and replaced himself with ex-player Wayne Burnett who stayed in the job for four months before leaving the club. Gary Phillips was promoted from assistant manager for the remainder of the season and the club finished in 19th position.


2009/10 turned out to be the fifth and final in the Conference Premier as both John Moncur (Chairman) and Andy Swallow (Chief Executive Officer) joined the club. Julian Dicks was brought in to replace Gary Phillips in September 2009, and Kenny Brown was soon appointed his assistant after resigning from his position as managed of CD Javea in Spain.


The team struggled throughout the season, winning just five league matches, and losing in their opening rounds of both the FA Cup and FA Trophy. The Blues did however managed to end the season on a high, winning two of their final three fixtures - the first of those away at AFC Wimbledon. In doing so, they recorded their first away league win for 16 months.


The final day of the season was a sad affair for the club, as they said farewell The Recreation Ground after 114 years. Both the team and the fans did their part, as the team came back to beat Forest Green 2-1 with Allseny Cissoko scoring the last goal at the ground.


Following relegation from the Premier the cub resigned from the Conference, deciding they would be unable to field a competitive team in the Conference South due to budget constraints. Following talks with both the FA and the Ryman League, the club were placed in the Ryman League Division One North.


The end of that season saw the expiry of the lease at The Recreation Ground, and without a home, the Club agreed a two-year deal to play at Rookery Hill, home of near neighbours East Thurrock United.


Last year was our first at this level for ten years, and despite having a solid start to the league campaign, a lack of consistency was evident throughout the remainder of the season which meant the team came up short in several matches, finally finishing in tenth position. Following the disappointing campaign Julian Dicks and Kenny Brown left the club by mutual consent, and the one-time Football League player, and ex-Thurrock manager Hakan Hayrettin was appointed as manager with his assistant Hassan Oktay.


With Hakan appointed, the remit was to challenge for a play-off place, and despite a few below par performances, the Club secured their play-off place on the penultimate weekend, meeting Enfield Town in the semi final. Trailing 2-0 with ten minutes left, the team managed to force extra time with two late goals. Unfortunately, with the match still level after extra time it was decided on penalties, with Grays losing 3-1.


The 2012-13 season was a successful one for the Club. It started with a move to another temporary home, in Rush Green, Romford. In partnership with West Ham United, the ground and its facilities were improved, with the Premier League side responsible for the maintenance of the pitch.


With just 4 league defeats, and a run of form in the second half of the season which brought with it 18 successive league wins, the Club won the league title with three matches to spare, finishing with a Club record 102 points. Two days after the title was secured, the side had the chance to complete the double, however they fell just short in the Essex Senior Cup final, losing 2-1 to Conference South side AFC Hornchurch.

The 2013-14 found Grays displaced from their ground at Rush Green and once again found themselves on the move. With liitle time to find a home a deal was struck with Aveley FC to groundshare for the 2013-14 season.
In a weather hit season Grays finished a respectable 14th place.

The Club are still determined to find a new permanent home within the next couple of years, as close as possible to the old stadium. We are working closely with Thurrock Council on their long term sports and leisure strategy as we strive to provide a new community based facility that would be available to all residents in the area.

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Club Honours Conference South Founder Member Club: 2004-05 Champions: 2004-05 Corinthian

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