Borough football clubs consolidating for the future

  Posted: 09.04.20 at 10:08 by The Editor

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IT’S as you were on the board of community-owned Grays Athletic Football Club, as it continues its campaign to find a new home back in Grays.

The constitution of the fan-owned football club dictates that periodically a number of directors have to stand down from their positions. And chairman Steve Skinner, vice-chair Glyn Jarvis and finance Director Packer were all due to do so.

No other nominations were received and the trio have all reaffirmed their commitment to the club so will continue in their roles.

In the wake of that news, the three have also received messages of support from the local community, including local councillors Gerard Rice and Martin Kerin who have pledged their support to help get the club a new home.

Meanwhile, across the borough, the new chairman of troubled East Thurrock United has sent out a message to the club’s supporters.

Steve Wiseman has just taken over, together with a new secretary and treasurer and one of his first acts has been to assure fans that work continues to save the club’s future.

Mr Wiseman says: “Can I start by saying what an honour it is for me to be writing this message as the new chairman of East Thurrock United FC.

“Having been around the club since the 1980s, both as a player and a keen club member, I have seen how much past chairmen like Brian Grover, Harry Cain, Gary Snell, and of course my immediate predecessor, Brian Mansbridge have all contributed to the club over the years, I know that I have big boots to fill and a lot to live up to. I'll certainly be giving it my very best shot.

“I realise that I'm taking on this role in difficult times. The sad passing of our much-loved Benny Bennett has shaken us all, and now on top of that desperate blow, we have also said farewell to our most successful, and longest serving manager in John Coventry, along with most of his hardworking administration team.

“Then, added to our problems, the coronavirus pandemic has turned all our lives upside down, quite understandably putting football very much to the back of most people's thoughts.
“However, I have every confidence that, with the right people working together, we can, and will secure a bright future for East Thurrock United FC.

“Following all the recent upheavals, we first of all need to stabilise the club, and ensure we are on a sound footing, ready to start playing as and when football eventually returns.

“This might mean making one or two difficult decisions in the coming weeks, as we will be virtually starting from scratch, both on and off the pitch. No decisions will be made without due consideration, and please rest assured any we do make will be taken with the long term future of the club very much in mind.

“I want to see East Thurrock United established at the very heart of our local community, and look forward to working with local groups and organisations to further strengthen our community links.

“Thanks to the efforts of people like Simon Hoskins, Faye Lambert, and the rest of the good folk who contribute, we already have a well established and thriving youth section, providing coaching and matches for local youngsters from pre-school age upwards. I look forward to working with the youth section towards our ultimate aim of providing a pathway for local kids to progress through the different age groups into adult football.

“It is now common knowledge that the Rookery Hill site is in the process of being sold, and that money from the sale is earmarked towards the cost of re-locating the club within the local catchment area. The club has been assured that we will have the use of Rookery Hill for at least two more seasons.

“That will give us time to seek out a suitable re-location site, and I'm delighted to read that our local councillors, and Thurrock Council itself, have offered to work with the club to identity what sites might be available for this exciting new community facility for the eastern part of the borough. I look forward to starting talks with the council representatives in due course.

“We have a new, experienced secretary in place, plus a respected treasurer, and along with the large number of people who came forward at the recent open meeting offering to fill roles around the club, I am confident that we will be ready for the return of football. You are all still very much needed, and I will be organising a meeting as soon as circumstances allow.

“I'm pleased to report that most of the club's existing sponsors, who we have so far contacted are going to continue to support the club, and I thank them for showing faith in us. We will need all the help we can get moving forward, and I'd love to hear from any potential new sponsors, backers, or anyone else who might want to get involved. Now is not the time to hold back. You can either speak to me directly, or message the club through our social media.

“Last, but definitely not least, I'd like to address our loyal supporters. Your continued support is going to be needed more than ever once we get back into action. Yes, of course there will be plenty of different faces around, but we are keen to maintain the welcoming and family friendly environment around Rookery Hill which people have worked so hard over the years to establish.

“Personally, I can't wait for the new season to start.”

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