Cray Wanderers 10 Year Review – 2010-19

It has certainly been a very dramatic ten years on and off the field for Cray Wanderers who began the 2010’s as newcomers to the Isthmian Premier and ended the decade returning to the division and finishing the decade 7th as Cray seek their highest ever league position.

Of course off the field the club have sought a new ground for the duration of the decade and after the disappointment of the rejection of the Sandy Lane project in 2012, there was better joy in 2016 and again in 2018 as approval of a new ground at Flamingo Park in Sidcup from Bromley council was granted and after the GLA rejected the 2016 proposal in November 2018 it was rubber stamped by the Mayor and preparation have begun with the ground hopefully ready for the 2021-22 season.

Cray’s first season in the Premier was inevitably going to be a hard one but a side managed by Ian Jenkins and ably assisted by Joe Francis despite being at times abrasive held their own against some established non-league clubs and a positive 2010 saw a 15th place finish.  Long time Cray stalwarts like Leigh Bremner, Jamie Wood, Ross Lover, Mark Willy and Aaron Day and quality young players like George Porter and Tyrone Sterling were added to by experienced heads like John Guest, Colin Luckett, Rob Quinn, Tommy Tyne and Simon Osborn and helped Cray establish themselves in the division.

Colin Luckett scores the first goal of the 2010’s vs Dartford, January 2010

Player of the Year in 2009-10 & 2012-13 Leigh Bremner

2010-11 saw Cray celebrate their 150 year anniversary and did so with a retro Chocolate and Amber kit, their original Victorian colours and this perhaps help instil an old school philosophy as Cray had an outstanding season beginning by winning the Heritage Trophy against Sheffield and Hallam FC in Sheffield.  The goals of Laurent Hamici were a major factor in the season and finished with 27 goals while the always reliable Bremner hit 15 as Cray finished in a new highest league position of 9th and picked up some big wins away from home at Tonbridge Angels (4-0), Maidstone United (4-2), Margate (2-0), Horsham (4-0) and also won at Lowestoft and Wealdstone. Cray also had a run to the semi-final of the Kent Senior Cup and took Ebbsfleet to a replay in the FA Cup.

Heritage Cup winners – 2010 Cray Wanderers

Player of the Year – Alex Bentley

Returning to their traditional amber and black in 2011-12 another great effort saw Cray in the playoff places at Easter but ultimately it was 4 successive home defeats in March-April which denied them end of season action but another 9th placed finish was a great reward.  Tommy Whitnell with 26 goals was joined by other prolific contributors, Bremner and Jack Clark both with double figure goals and great performances from the likes of Tyrone Sterling, Chris Saunders, Alex Bentley, Willy and Joe Vines meant Cray were now very much part of the Premier Division furniture.

Cray Wanderers 2011-12

Player of the Year – Tyrone Sterling 2011-12

The 2012-13 season began well for Cray particularly away from home where they remained unbeaten until December and picked up big wins on the road at Enfield Town, Concord Rangers and Hampton & Richmond which had the Wands up to 2nd in the table going into November.  However, home form had been poor and only managed three wins at Hayes Lane in the league and ultimately the team went through a difficult spell and relegation was a possibility but a crucial home win against Hampton & Richmond and a draw against Lewes confirmed safety in 17th place.  Earlier that season, in September the Bromley Council decision on Sandy Lane went against the club and perhaps that had a knock on effect to the season. Bremner was prolific once again with 26 goals.

Cray Wanderers 2012-13

Mark Willy – Cray Wanderers Captain – 2010-13 

Probably best to skip over the 2013-14 season with great haste but looking back perhaps important for all clubs at non-league level to experience a season like it. An injury pre-season to captain Mark Willy was the catalyst for a poor start to the season which saw Cray in the bottom two for virtually the whole season and Jenkins and Francis left the club and the end of an era.  In came two successful businessmen in Keith Bird and ex-Wands player Michael Paye to try to turn things around and they did win their first two games but quickly things went back to normal and so many players were coming in and out and by Christmas many of the Jenko/Joe side had departed the club and defeats were getting heavier as the players got younger.  Occasional highlights like the 2-0 win at Lowesfoft in November and at Hornchurch in March were welcome but relegation was a certainty despite the efforts of the team and a 0-4 defeat to Kingstonian in April 2014 confirmed the inevitable.  The bright spot was the form of Alex Stavrinou who won the player of the year award and was the only player to start the season and end it.

Keith Bird & Michael Paye

Cray Wanderers Player of the Year – Alex Stavrinou  2013-14

The 2014-15 season was almost another in the quick to forget category as the team inexplicably placed in the Isthmian North began with a team full of good players like Shaun Welford, Dan Stubbs, Danny Lye and Ian Daly but the team rarely gelled aside from FA Trophy games and a relegation to the SCEFL was looking ominously close. Keith Bird was replaced by Paye in September 2014 who in turn stepped down in December to be replaced by Gary Abbott.  Abbott stayed two games and at the beginning of January 2015, Tommy Warrilow who played briefly for Cray in the late 90’s was brought in to stave off the drop.  Going into March it wasn’t looking good with Cray 17 points off safety with ten games to go but suddenly the team brought together like Chris Piper, Nick Humprhey, Cesc Fakinos, Tom Bolarinwa and Alex Teniola clicked and the win at Harlow Town on 4th April 2015 was possibly the biggest win of the decade for Cray as that made it five wins in a row and the momentum built.  The ten game run won them the team of the season for the Isthmian North despite the team finishing in 16th place with keeper Luke Colquhoun playing all ten but Cray were thankfully still in the Isthmian League.

The Great Escapers – 2014-15

Player of the Year – 2014-15 – Adrian Stone 

Elsewhere, there was another great escape taking place in the Isthmian Premier where VCD Athletic won their last 6 games of the season to avoid the drop.  The architect of that success was former Wands central defender Tony Russell and came to the club along with many of the VCD side and instantly despite still being in the North Division saw Cray play a more fluid attacking style of play and turned Cray from a struggling side for three seasons into a playoff calibre side. For the first time in years, Cray topped a league going into Christmas with the likes of the returning Bremner, Andre McCollin, Karl Dent, Lea Dawson and James Duckworth all scoring vital goals. The arrival of Grant Basey at the start of the season saw the ex-Charlton & Peterborough man become iconic with the quality of his free-kicks and Nick Blue was an outstanding acquisition in goal.  In the end despite being top at Christmas, Cray finished 4th and were beaten by Harlow Town in the playoffs but at least there were signs of a good side who gave us a less hair-raising tension than before.

Tony Russell – the new Cray Wanderers manager from the 2015-16 season

Cray Wanderers – 2015-16

Player of the Year 2015-16 – Grant Basey

The 2016-17 season saw Cray moved to the Isthmian South and was the last played on grass at Hayes Lane and despite some notable wins and performances during the season from the likes of Danny Haynes, Lea Dawson, Luke Medley, Brandon Scott, Lee Prescott and Jay Leader the consistency wasn’t really there and finished in 11th place.  Haynes who finished top scorer also broke a club record by scoring in 12 consecutive games that he started.

Cray Wanderers 2016-17

Cray Wanderers Player of the Year – 2017-18 Lea Dawson 

Onto 2017-18 and one certainly more remarkable as the new 3g surface at Hayes Lane suited the team and the returning Michael Power showed great goalscoring form grabbing 30 in all competition and joined the list of players scoring over 100 goals for the club.  The team scored freely with 17 year old Freddie Parker hitting vital goals and hit 8 goals vs Horsham in the Trophy and against South Park in the league, scored 7 at East Grinstead Town in November and remarkably won 9-1 against Ashford United in January 2018 which saw Cray at the top of the South division and a 23 game unbeaten run and added the very experienced Charlie MacDonald to the attack. A mini blip in a tight title race saw Cray pipped for promotion by Carshalton & Lewes but for the first time since 1974-75 a Cray side has scored over a century of goals grabbing 112 in the league.  Cray finished third but suffered playoff anguish losing 2-5 at home to Walton Casuals who went on to gain promotion.  In March though, Cray received good news as planning permission from Bromley Council was granted to Cray for the new ground at Flamingo Park and now it was fingers crossed that the GLA would do so and end any uncertainty.

Cray Wanderers 2017-18

Michael Power – Golden Boot for 100 Cray Wanderers goals 2017-18

Player of the Year 2017/18 – Jay Leader  


Finally onto 2018-19 and in the newly formed South-East Division, Cray fielding a very settled squad saw the introduction of Bradley Pritchard along the returning Sean Roberts and Jerome Federico saw Cray hit the ground running and won their first seven games and were pretty much steady as you go at the top and were unbeaten in the league including wins against contenders Haywards Heath Town and Hastings United until mid December.  The signings of Joe Taylor and Tom Carlse were big arrivals and signalled intent and another good run unbeaten continued beating the likes of Three Bridges, VCD Athletic, Herne Bay and Guernsey. Two huge wins at Whyteleafe and at home to Horsham on 9th March looked to have given Cray a comfortable enough cushion at the top.  A mini blip in March meant the title could have been won at home to Greenwich Borough on 7th April but that ended in a draw and extended the tension to the following Saturday, 13th April and a 3-1 win against Ashford United at Hayes Lane saw the title won and Cray would end the decade where they started in the Isthmian Premier.  Freddie Parker and Joe Taylor finished joint top scorers and Pritchard the player of the year and Jay Leader the Isthmian South-East player of the Year and Tony Russell the Manager of the year.  In November 2018, the club received the news that they wanted to hear that the GLA had approved the Flamingo Park plans and the club would soon be moving on.

Cray Wanderers 2018-19 Isthmian South-East Champions

Player of the Year 2018-19 – Bradley Pritchard

2019-20 so far has seen Gary Hillman celebrate 25 years as Chairman of the club and so far Cray have settled nicely into the Premier and with some young players like Lee Lewis making their mark and although injuries haven’t helped to end the 2019 part of the season in 7th place shows a decade of progress going through a few hoops of fire along the way and the future is looking bright.