Stimson axed at struggling Grays
By Nub News Reporter
20th Nov 2023 | Football
GRAYS Athletic Football Club has confirmed it has parted company with manager Mark Stimson and his coaching team.
The fan-owned club announced the decision to remove the manager who reached iconic status on his first spell at the club in the 'noughties' when he guided them to two FA Trophy wins and to within 180 minutes of making the Football League, losing a 2006 play-off semi-final 5-4 to Halifax over two legs.
Their two FA Trophy wins came in 2005 against Hucknall and the Blues repeated the feat with a win against Hucknall just days after the play-off heartbreak.
Stimson resigned 48 hours after the second FA Trophy final, gambling on being offered a chance to manage at Football League level.
He said: "I made my mind up after the Trophy win. The performance was so good and the whole day was special. I was devastated after going out of the play-offs. I really thought we would get into the league. The opportunity was there and I'm not sure it will come along again."
The offer didn't come and Stimson took over as manager of Stevenage Borough and led the club to an eighth-place finish in the National League in his first season. He made it a remarkable FA Trophy hat-trick, beating Grays on the way to winning the Trophy at Wembley.
He was offered a new contract by Stevenage for the following but resigned in 1 November and was appointed as manager of Football league Gillingham - who were then relegated!
The following season the Gills finished fifth in League Two and beat Shrewsbury Town 1–0 in the play-off final at Wembley but in the 2009–10 season Gillingham were relegated back to League Two, after which Stimson's contract was terminated "by mutual consent".
Grays would never fly so high again as they did under Stimson first time around. By 2010, they were bottom of the National league and in deep financial trouble. They went straight to the Isthmian Division One North, where they have remained. They also lost their ground and have spent the seasons since ground-sharing.
On 1 June 2010, Stimson got his second chance in the Football league when appointed as new manager of League Two Barnet, but was sacked seven months later after a run of poor results.
After a brief spell as coach at Dagenham he became manager at National League Kettering but more poor results saw him depart.
A spell in charge of now defunct Thurrock followed and when the club was folded he had a brief spell as manager at Waltham Abbey before moving to take over at Isthmian Premier AFC Hornchurch where he won his fourth FA Trophy, beating Hereford at Wembley.
Last season, after setting the pace for much of the campaign, it seemed he would guide the Urchins to promotion, but they lost in a play-off final to Aveley and in the close season Hornchurch's owners decided to move 'in a new direction' and Stimson once again was out of a job.
But not for long. It was announced Stimson was to return to Grays and hopes were high. But it has been a cataclsymic campaign and Grays have yet to win a match in any competition, sitting second from bottom.
That led to today's decision which came in the wake of a 3-0 home defeat by Brentwood at the weekend.
A statement from the club says: "Sadly, despite the incredible work Mark and his coaching team have put into the club since rejoining us in the summer, results and performances haven't been at the level anyone expected or wanted.
"The Board will now look to appoint a new men's first team manager in due course. Further details will be released when the club are in a position to release them.
"The Board of Directors would like to place on record its sincerest thanks to Mark, Tony Gay, Ryan Handley and Timi Olomofe for their efforts since joining the club and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours."
In a brief social media message this afternoon Stimson said: "To the fans, you are absolutely amazing, I will look forward to standing alongside you in the stand. Stay loud and proud."