YOU CANNOT beat the first game of the season for a touch of wild optimism and extravagant predictions.
It is understandable: whether it is Hull or Blackpool topping the Premier League or indeed Grays wiping the floor with Ware yesterday.
But it was a good performance by Grays.
The voices of reason say a number of things:
1. Ware were poor. They were poor last week when they were cuffed by Harrow Borough 4-0 and were accused in some quarters as lacking heart. Those who stayed behind yesterday saw boss and former Spurs man Stuart Nethercott giving it both barrels at his players.
The first goal was a sloppy mistake. Their keeper Bert Greenwood didn’t play very well. They didn’t get tight enough on David Cowley in the first half and gave Grays players far too much time and space.
But on the other hand
Grays performed very well. The team turned up in suits and from that moment they looked like they had turned up for working meaning business.
In his post-match interview, Joe Sweeney stressed, time and time again, the good pre-season they had had.
Indeed, some players fitness came more into play the longer the game went on. Especially Harry Agombar who looked like he was chomping at the bit not only to get his season underway but also his career which stalled somewhat last season at Barnet.
The fact is that Grays Ath as individuals played very well and as a team, they played even better.
One of the YourThurrock reporters who hadn’t seen Grays for some time said: “They all seemed to know what their job was. They all seemed to have a much clearer idea of what to do and how to do it.”
In many ways, it speaks volumes that there were players who have been hardly mentioned: Junior Baker, Grant Cooper, Kenny Beaney etc. But they simply got on with their jobs.
Cooper in particular looked very classy indeed.
Dave Cowley was a menace throughout and you could see why he was player of the year at Harlow last season. What he also had was plenty of movement up front esp from Joe Sweeney with Harry also giving him options.
Jaoa Carlos will be frustrating as he tries to go round players and often fails but he is like a battering ram and on many occasions will eventually get round the back.
Grays also have the added weapon of Lee Flynn’s crosses and free kicks which are very potent.
So, one game, three points and that is that. Not quite the right time to book the open top bus.
Grays go to Waltham Forest on Wednesday night on a ground that skilful players find tricky. They then travel to Heybridge where Bertie Brayley et al will be a stiff test.
It is the toughest league to get out of. East Thurrock seemed to win about fifteen games on the bounce last year and still be one point behind Needham.
But for those fans who watched through the fog of Julian Dicks tactics last season or the nadir that was Romford 2 v 0 Grays Ath, watching the wonderful football, professional application and team spirit yesterday will have produced a spring in their step.
Here at YT, we have never been the cheerleaders at Grays Ath and if they tank at Forest we will say so but for now, praise where praise is due for the Blues.