Dateline: Saturday 4th February 2006. Location: Edgar Street, Hereford. Assignment: Coverage of the FA Trophy 3rd Round match between Hereford United and Grays Athletic for the Thurrock Recorder. Image: Grays goalkeeper Ashley Bayes celebrates with characteristic gusto at the final whistle. Weather: Cool and overcast.
This was a memorable day out for a number of reasons. Firstly, Grays maintained their excellent Trophy record with a well-deserved win. Secondly, I was ticking off a new ground… and thirdly, the rain (which threatened throughout the match) didn’t come. Above we see the mercurial Aaron McLean on the ball for the visitors. McLean went on to make over 100 appearance for Peterborough United after his stint at the Rec.
Here’s the scorer of the winning goal, Michael Kightly, celebrating at the final whistle. Kightly was spotted by Wolverhampton Wanderers. He made the move to Molineux at the end of 2006 and went on to play in the Premier League. Not bad for a player who had started his career at Basildon United.
Grays had won the FA Trophy the previous season (defeating Hucknall Town on penalties at Villa Park) and the game at Hereford was a stepping stone on their way to retaining the big non-league prize. Spearheaded by ex-Newcastle United player Mark Stimson (seen in the huddle above), Grays would go on to win the competition by defeating Woking at Upton Park. Stimson, in turn, would leave his managerial post at Grays in May 2006 to take over at Stevenage Borough. Remarkably he would then lead Stevenage to a Trophy win in 2006-2007.
For those that are interested, here’s the full gallery from Hereford United vs Grays Athletic.