Saturday, April 1, 2023

Football: CHAMPIONS! Grays Ath win the title!!

Ryman Div One North

Grays Ath 2 v 0 Maldon and Tiptree

GRAYS ATHLETIC beat Maldon and Tiptree 2-0 at the Rush Green Stadium to win the Ryman Division One North.

It was a tremendous performance by Grays Athletic that underlined every quality that the team have displayed this season and especially 2013.

The game began with an atmosphere akin to a cup final with the Grays fans in great voice.

Joao Carlos looked very lively on the left but was judged on two occasions to have fouled defenders. The referee had to have a word with defender Frank Everett.

It looked as if the game was going to be fought out in the middle of the park.

Kris Newby looked like he had found his Rocks form and forced a corner in the 10th minute. The corners troubled the Maldon defence without really making a chance.

Maldon thought they had a good shout for a penalty when Joe Gardener marauded into the area. He ran into Craig Pope, fell over but the referee waved away claims.

Grays attacked and earned a corner after keeper Jason Willis turned a Jack West header over the bar.

You had the feeling Kris Newby could be the difference and he induced Jack Crawley into a foul for which he received a yellow card.

Michael Toner was lucky only to see yellow when he crashed into Joao Carlos on the edge of the area in the 24th minute.

Kris Newby sent over the free kick, Junior Baker headed it back from the far most and Craig Pope headed in from close range.

The fans were delirious but there was still much to do, Grays pressed on but a little bit of confusion at the back in the 30th minute showed that Grays had to keep their nerve.

The Maldon that Grays played back in November was a classy, efficient outfit. This one was just a little too niggly. A lofted free kick that Grays keeper caught seemed like their first real attack of the half.

A Junior Baker handball earned Maldon a free kick in the 44th minute. Jack Crawley’s lovely free kick hit the bar but went off after that.

The final action of the half was a Newby corner that was easily defended by Maldon.

The second half began brightly with the Blues winning a corner after a Lee Flynn free kick created problems. Maldon went up the other end and put the pressure on Grays. Ben Bowditch went close with a header.

But Maldon were still giving away needless free kicks.

The rain poured down as Maldon tried to exert their authority. The Grays players were putting in a real shift. Kenny Beaney was tireless. In the 57th minute, he intercepted in the middle of the pitch, put the ball through to Jeff Hammond who was well tackled by Bowditch.

Maldon brought on Jamie Guy. The crowd went very quiet and Grays tried to take the heat out of the game but with half an hour to go, that seemed a long way out. Boss Hakan Hayrettin knew that as well and berated his players.

The mistakes were beginning to show. Craig Pope was given a yellow card after bringing down a Maldon attacker.

Sub Kevin McLeod came on and put Lamar Johnson to the test as he floated a ball over that Johnson did well to catch.

But another inspired substitution from boss Hakan saw Jared Small come on and then in the 80th minute he took the ball on the right hand side, lobbed it over the defender, chipped it across the area and Jack West clipped the ball home.

The crowd went wild and deservedly so. It has been a long hard road for the Blues over the last few years. Grays held out to win the game, win the title and move forward to the Ryman Premier.


Referee: Michael Hayden
Asst Referees: Daniel Richardson, Edward Smith


Maldon: J Robinson, J Gardener, J Cawley
Grays: K Beaney, C Pope, J West

Grays Ath: Johnson L, Pope C, Baker J, Kirby R, Flynn L, Newby K, Lalite L, Beaney K, Hammond J (Small J 75), Carlos J, West J

Subs not used: East D, , Sweeney J, Subola D, Bunce D

Maldon and Tiptree: Willis J, Everett F, Cawley J, Bowditch B ( Berquez 65) Golby G, Toner M, Robinson J, Dark L, Boylan L (Guy J 57), Gardner J, Johnson D (McLeod K 73)

Subs not used: Wright J, Glowacki J


  1. Fair play to your Thurrock for finally getting a prediction right in my GAFC programme interview! 3rd time lucky MC Well done Grays as well, hopefully some good derbies v Purfleet and ÉTUDE next season!


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