We asked supporters of our Pitching In Isthmian League clubs to preview the new season, reflect on the old and predict the final outcome. Their predicted 1-20 (or 22) will be worked into a final table which you will see just before the big kick off. Stewart even finds a large positive in last season- Tilbury fans, can you guess what it is?!
1. Thinking about last season- what there was of it- were there any highlights for you?
Winning away at Tilbury, under the lights on a Tuesday evening – thanks to a brilliant solo-effort goal from Joe Agunbiade. That will do any Grays fan, any season. Three points and local bragging rights. Happy days.
Stweart Goshawk of Grays Athletic
2. Moving on to your current squad- which players do you think will make a big impact during the 2021-22 campaign?
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing David Knight playing regularly in a Blues shirt. A proven goalscorer around other Essex clubs, he could be just what we need. Jack McQueen is a centre-half who could really come of age this season. And I have to mention our young winger, Joseph Agunbiade – lightning quick and has already scored some great goals (see above)
3. Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?
Our aim has to be for the play-offs. But that will be the ambition of many clubs, so it will be a fight. Being a homeless, supporter-owned club, others are better resourced – but we won’t want for spirit. The players are playing because they want to and not for huge appearance fees, goal bonuses etc.
4. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
Definitely Stowmarket, as the one new venue in the league for us this season. And I always look forward to the local derbies – in Isthmian North, we’ve got plenty of those.
5. What is your favourite away ground?
We have been lucky at Grays over the years to play at a higher level and have visited some great ex-football league stadiums, Cambridge United, Mansfield, York City etc. However, St Albans City was always the most attractive before they felled the cherry trees. In this division, I always enjoy a visit to AFC Sudbury.
6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
Tilbury – one of the oldest local rivalries anywhere in football. We’ve been playing each other for over a century and the feelings run very deep. I always pity the officials at this one.
7. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Firstly, remember that we play our home games at Aveley! As a fan-owned club, we do everything ourselves, and we put our heart and soul into making the matchday experience the best it can be for everyone. So please, buy a programme, buy some raffle tickets – it’s what helps keep the club afloat.
8. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
Dennis Oli – one of our FA Trophy winning team from the mid 2000s. Skillful, quick, great goal scorer and a gentleman. I also, have to mention Joao Carlos from our current team – a true club legend, approaching 400 appearances for Grays Ath and back this season for more.
9. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Maldon & Tiptree, Tilbury, Bury Town, Aveley and Barking.
Right, who’s next? If you’d like to represent your club, email Ian on email@example.com
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