Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Grays Athletic take ownership of Ship Lane as chairman hails ‘a fantastic day for the club’

SUPPORTERS and volunteers backing Grays Athletic FC are now getting ready for a different type of season-long challenge.

The fan-owned club has now completed all the legalities and paperwork after a joint application with car preparation company Group 1 Automotive saw a planning permission granted on the site of Thurrock FC’s dormant ground on Ship Lane, Aveley.

As part of the deal to create a car preparation plant, Grays athletic have been gifted the stadium – which will become their new permanent home.

The club will continue their ground-sharing agreement at Tilbury FC’s Chadfield ground for this coming Isthmian North season – but the race has begun to get Ship Lane ready for a ground-grading next March which would see the venue approved by the FA and availabe for the 2025-26 season.

A statement from the club says: “Grays Athletic Community Football Club is delighted to confirm that, after a long and protracted journey, full planning permission has now been granted for the redevelopment of the Ship Lane football ground in West Thurrock.

“Work can now start to bring the facility back up to playing conditions.

“Grays Athletic lost the tenure of our home of the previous 100 years at the Recreation Ground, on the edge of Grays Town Centre, some 14 years ago and have lived a nomadic life ever since. 

“Now we can look forward to welcoming you all to Ship Lane as the new home of Grays Athletic, just as soon as we can complete the renovation works.

“The club has so many people to thank for this historic move.

“We will always be indebted to our partners Group 1 Automotive Ltd, without who, this venture would never have happened. 

“We also recognise the huge patience and co-operation of the South family – we hope we can build on their fantastic footballing legacy at Ship Lane.

“And not least, we have been overwhelmed by the backing we have received from across the non-league football family, from both near and far. Thank you to each and every one of you.

“It is also hugely important to pay homage to our remarkable supporters who have been with us, side by side, throughout years of uncertainty, in hope that one day we will have somewhere we can call home.

“Simply thank you. Grays Athletic is our club, and Ship Lane is now our home.”

Planning permission was won in September last year after a long series of applications and significant opposition from Aveley residents but the club and fans faced an anxious wait to see if the government would ‘call in’ the decision.

In December they learned it would not – but it took until late April for Thurrock Council to finally sign-off on the deal. Leagal work and a ‘cooling off period’ then took place before the club was able to make its formal announcement.

Club Chairman, Lee Vehit said: “This is a fantastic day for sport in Thurrock, as well as one that secures the future of Grays Athletic. 

“Our club is first and foremost a community club and it is our clear ambition to make Ship Lane the most welcoming of venues for all local people – men and women, boys and girls, young and old, including representatives of all sections of our local area. We have great plans to open up Ship Lane to the widest possible range of community use – and we would love to hear from local groups about how we can do even more. 

“But first we have a huge job to do, to get Ship Lane safe and operational. The ground has laid dormant for the past six years, since Thurrock FC folded. 

“And we know there is much work to do. But our army of Blues volunteers can’t wait to get started. This is a club with a great history and now with the brightest of futures.”


  1. I’m so please to hear that grays football club is on sound footing well done to everyone involved


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