By Local Democracy Reporter Steve Shaw via YourThurrock.com
THURROCK councillors have expressed their support for sports groups across the borough and congratulated Grays Athletic for being named club of the year.
Labour Councillor John Kent called on the council to congratulate the Blues for being named Bostik League Football Community Club of the year for 2018-19 during a full council meeting on Wednesday evening.
He said the club is helping many people in the borough to be active and is one of many clubs that deserve recognition and support.
“There are many, many people in the borough who are involved in cricket, hockey, bowls, boxing and athletics and many, many more sports beside,” he said.
“Most of them are putting in the time free of charge for the love of the sport and giving young people an outlet something positive to do and we don’t often enough stop to say thank you for what they do.
“The Grays football club was formed in 1890 and came remarkably close to going out of business four or five years ago but since then what has happened is utterly remarkable.
“In 2016, they were relaunched as a community football club – one owned entirely by supporters, with one member, one share, one vote and everybody’s elected, directors of the club elected, and the chair of the club is elected.
“Steve Skinner who has been the chair since 2016 has done a remarkable job raising tens of thousands of pounds only to make sure the team survives at Bostik league level, which is not a bad level of football, but they also have over 30 sides playing going from very youngest who are too young to play organised football to over 65s who play for recreation – they have over 500 players.
“What they do is nothing short of remarkable, so I think this council should congratulate this club.”
His comments prompted a raft of support from councillors across the chamber who all spoke up about their support for the club.
Labour leader councillor Jane Pothecary said the club was helping to “make a different in the lives of players” and councillor Gerard Rice praised the club for its “fantastic work with young people”.
The football club has spent almost ten years trying to find a new home after being forced to leave The Rec in 2010 when it was sold to property developers.
They hope to eventually move into a purpose built community football stadium but so far the council has not located a suitable site.
Conservative Councillor Joycelyn Redell, said: “If we are looking for any land for Grays Athletic, we need to look at the infrastructure that goes with,it we need to find a good piece of land but we also need to be careful to ensure we have the infrastructure around it.”