Headitorial: Issue 78

By the time you get your hot sweaty mitts on this, the first issue of the 2000-2001 season, the Gills will have begun their new life as a First Division club.

It’s been a long journey for many supporters, filled with doubt and despair. There must have been many who had given up hope of seeing the club ever play in the top two divisions after so many abortive attempts to clinch the long-awaited prize.

Gillingham FC begun blowing their chances of promotion to the reasonably big time in the mid-sixties, and could generally be relied upon to do the same about a couple of times or so a decade.

Even supporters who have only started following the Gills in the last few years would still have witnessed the heartbreak of Wembley 1999 – so for anyone who has been connected with the club this will be a special season indeed.

During the reign of Tony Pulis we had become increasingly unpopular amongst opposition supporters – being perceived as physical, negative and about as entertaining as the proverbial newly-painted wall. Last season, however, saw a dramatic sea chance in how the club was perceived.

We already had a large sympathy vote from the nation after the Man City game – when even our worst enemies were forced to admit that the outcome was more than a little on the cruel side – and the arrival of Peter Taylor in place of Pulis added to the effect. Taylor himself already had a groundswell of public support following his controversial dismissal from the England U21 job.

Put this together with Taylor’s position as all-round good bloke and media-friendly personality, and the team’s newly-found footballing style, and we were on to a winner.

We went to the playoff final on a wave of pubic support. Seemingly everyone wanted us to win after the previous debacle (apart from Mark Lawrenson, obviously).

Of course, being Gillingham meant that we had to be made to suffer horribly before we finally achieved what so many had waited so long for.

Ironically, many enjoyed the previous season’s final far more, despite the result. The Wigan game was tetchy and bitty – and personally I hated almost every single minute of it.

So where do we go from here? The last five years have brought two promotions, three cup victories over Premiership opposition, a place in the FA Cup quarter finals and two appearances at Wembley – easily the most impressive and successful spell in our 107-year history. Exactly how do we top that?

The Ed

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