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Officials and supporters of Pitching In Isthmian League North Division outfit, Grays Athletic were left angry and incensed when a controversial decision from Thurrock Council ruled against the 131-year-old club developing a hew home at Ship Lane, the former ground of Thurrock FC.
Grays left the Recreation Ground – their spiritual home of 104-years – when it was sold for development in 2010. The club subsequently shared with East Thurrock United, West Ham United Reserves and most recently, Aveley but have lobbied tirelessly for a new ground of their own.
The 3,500-capacity Ship Lane ground has sat empty since Thurrock FC closed down in 2018 and is seen by many as a perfect fit for the homeless Blues. The site was purchased by the Group 1 Automotive company, who in turn submitted a planning application, offering Grays Athletic a new home, securing their long-term future and providing a fantastic sporting facility for the local community.
Speaking to Yellow Sport, Grays Athletic Chairman, Steve Skinner, said; “We are very disappointed with the outcome of last night’s Planning Meeting. Obviously, the decision to refuse the application is a blow for us, however, we also feel that some of the wildly inaccurate comments made by Councillors on the committee were damaging to Grays Athletic and our reputation. This ultimately painted an unfair picture of the club in front of the other attendees and the large number of people watching the meeting online.
“We will be writing a formal letter of complaint on this matter.
“Grays Athletic have always respected the achievements of Tommy South in creating such a good facility at Ship Lane and ourselves and many others in the non-league family feel that it is a crying shame that it is not being used for community football in our borough.
“However, we as a football club have experienced many false dawns in the past decade and each disappointment seems to make us stronger as a group. We will continue with our goal to offer football opportunities to all in our community and look forward to discussing the plans for sporting provision in Thurrock with the council in line with their local plans.”