GRAYS ATHLETIC FOOTBALL CLUB
A Brief History (1890-2001)
celebrated their Centenary in 1990, and have played at
their Recreation Ground, Bridge Road, since 1906. They
became members of the Athenian League in 1912. They won
the Essex Senior Cup 1914/15, together with the Amateur
Division of the London League.
Grays became very strong after the 39/45 War, winning the Essex Senior Cup in 1945. Grays helped form the Corinthian League in 1946 and won both the League and Memorial Shield and were Essex Thameside Trophy winners in 1948.
In the 1950's they reached the County Cup Final on four occasions, winning once in 1957. They rejoined the Athenian League in 1958 where they remained until 1983.
In 1981 the Club Patron, Mr. Ron Billings, ensured the future of Grays Athletic at the Rec by purchasing the ground. The Club was reformed as Limited Company in 1982 with Twin Managers Jeff and Fred Saxton introducing several of the Management Team. Under chairman Jim Myers they gained promotion to the Isthmian League Division 2. Disaster struck before the end of the 82/83 season when a fire destroyed the 400-seater stand which included Dressing and Kit rooms. R.J. Billings came to the rescue by building the Ball Court Complex which included Dressing Rooms, Club Room and Bar.
A fine F.A. Cup run in 84/85 set up Grays to become Division 2 Champions.
The 87/88 season proved possible the most successful in the Club's history. They were promoted to the Vauxhall Open Premier League after amassing 100 points. They won the Essex Senior Cup after a gap of 31 years, and added the Essex Thameside Trophy by defeating near-neighbours Tilbury.
An F.A. Cup run in 1988/89 ended in the First Round proper at Bath City, the highlight being the success at Underhill in putting out Barry Fry's Barnet. Grays retained the magnificent Silver Galleon, The Essex Thameside Trophy, with a fine win at Southend United.
1990/91 saw the pairing of twin strikers Richard Cherry and Dwight Marshall, who scored 58 goals between them to help Grays finish in sixth place.
Grays won the League Cup with a 3 - 1 defeat of Enfield in 1991/2. The following season they climbed to sixth spot and head their best ever F.A. Trophy run, going out in a replay at Gateshead. In 93/94 they lost to Canvey Island in a penalty shoot-out in the Essex Thameside Trophy final, but won the County Cup by defeating Billericay.
The following season they repeated their Essex Senior Cup win against Billericay for their 8th County title. 1995/96 was another season with a threat of relegation, but they reached the Essex Thameside Trophy Final, losing in extra time to Canvey Island.
The struggle over the last few years culminated in the eventual relegation to Division 1, at the conclusion of the 1996/7 season.
Success eventually returned with promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division at the end of the 1999/2000 season.
The 2000/2001 season saw the club struggle at the foot of the table for most of the season. However, a successful run in the F.A. Cup finally coming to an end with a 4 - 0 defeat at Reading in the 1st Round proper. This signalled the start of changes at Bridge Road with Mike Woodward installed as Director of Football, Craig Edwards as 1st Team Manager and the departure of Jeff and Fred Saxton, who had given the club loyal service for some 30 years
In the 2001/2002 season Grays again tasted F.A. Cup success getting to the First Round proper.
Grays most successful season was the 2004/2005 season when they won promotion as champions to the Nationwide Conference League and won the F.A. Trophy at Villa Park.
There is a more detailed history on the club's website.
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