Why I chose Grays Athletic for 'My 5'
Grays may seem like a slightly odd choice considering as I have little connection to the area. I wanted a side from Essex, though. I spent a lot of last season visiting teams along the A13 and was keen for this area to be represented. Grays also currently play at Parkside, one of my favourite grounds, and are a community owned club which adds extra interest in their story for me. Finally, they played some great football when I saw them last season and seem like a fun club. I'm particularly looking forward to the local derbies against Aveley and Tilbury.
Who are ya, Grays Athletic?
The club was formed in 1890 as Grays Juniors and soon merged with Grays United to become Grays Athletic. The club played in local leagues until 1912 when they were founder members of the Athenian League. They transferred to the London League as the Athenian League closed due to the First World War. The Blues were then founder members of the Corinthian League in 1945 and were the inaugural Champions.
Grays rejoined the Athenian League in 1958, where they remained until 1983 when they joined the Isthmian League. They spent most of their Isthmian years in the Premier Division before eventually joining the brand new Conference South in 2004. They won the brand new step 2 division in it's first season and found themselves at step 1 for the first time in their history, in the Football Conference.
They made the promotion play-offs in their first season in the Conference and won two successive FA Trophies before form began to fade. The Blues finished bottom of the Conference in 2009 and resigned from the League. Their return to the Isthmian League was initially rejected, but an FA appeal saw them placed in the Isthmian North Division. In 2016 the club became fan/community owned.
Prospects for this season
When I saw Grays last season they looked like a side that should be challenging for promotion. Unfortunately, inconsistency saw them finish in mid-table in what was a very competitive division. They'll hope to improve their league position this season and a good run at the business end of the campaign could see them get near the play-off spots.