10:22am Monday 26th April 2010
Grays Athletic 2, Forest Green Rovers 1 FOOTBALL: A total of 940 fans paid an emotional goodbye to football at Grays Athletic’s New Rec ground after 120 years.
Relegated Grays will start to look for a new base, possibly ground-sharing to start with at the Chadfields home of Tilbury, after their ground was sold.
There is huge uncertainty about Grays’ future now in many directions, but at least they signed off in style with a rare success.
They won for only the fifth time in 44 starts and, in the process, condemned visiting side Forest Green to relegation as well.
But former West Ham star Julian Dicks took time to insist that he will continue to manage the club next season — if they want him.
At the moment it is far from clear as to whether Grays will drop just one level to Blue Square South or go down further to Ryman League level. Where they play will be a Football Association decision.
But Dicks insisted: “Obviously it’s been frustrating at times but I’ve no regrets whatsoever about coming here. I’ve enjoyed my time and I’d like to stay if they will have me.”
He added: “With the ground closing it was important we went out on a high and it’s been an emotional day for the fans.
“With us having got seven points from our last three games it’s a pity we couldn’t have done that 10 of 15 games ago.
“We’ve been outstanding in those three games and didn’t want the season to end. The boys knew that today all I wanted was for them to go out and win, and they did that.
“At times they’ve played well in the past and not got the rub of the green, but they did today. I’ve always said that if you work hard enough you can get results and we did that today.”
The visitors dominated early on, but the action was without goals until the 65th minute when home captain Harlee Dean gave away a penalty. David Brown stepped up and converted the spot kick.
But then, with a quarter of an hour remaining, the home side gave their fans something to cheer about.
Teenager Alex Osborn ran through and found the bottom corner of the net from just outside the box to level the game.
A draw would still have saved Rovers, but their hopes were ended with four minutes to go.
A corner taken by Alex Rhodes was swung in and Alesseny Cissoko headed powerfully home to enter folklore as being the last man to score a goal at the ground which will now be redeveloped.
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