Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 11

Gordon Pulley – ‘Thunderboots’

When Gills opened the 1958/59 season with a 2-1 home defeat by Millwall, many people thought they’d had a further laugh in the close season by unloading on us a small, slightly overweight left-winger with tiny feet. How wrong can people be? In fact, we had gained one of the most exciting wingers we’ve ever had.

Gordon Pulley was 5’5’ tall, and was inevitably described in newspaper reports as ‘Gillingham’s pint-sized winger’. He was also dubbed ‘the little man with tree-trunks legs’ in recognition of his ability to hit the ball with tremendous power. For six years there was no more exciting sight than to see Gordon race down the left wing, cut in to the edge of the penalty box and let fly with a cannonball shot. They were not always accurate, but if he got his shots on target there were very few goalkeepers who could keep them out.

His crosses were hit with similar velocity, and it needed a brave forward to get on the end of them. With Pat Terry, George Francis, and then Brian Gibbs he had that, and they got plenty of goals themselves by getting a head or a boot on them as they flew across the box. Floated crosses they weren’t.

In 204 appearances Gordon scored 46 goals, and there were some corkers amongst them. I remember in particular a hat-trick against Torquay in October 1962 – two trademark belters after dribbles down the wing, and then the crowd roaring him on as he suddenly popped up in the inside right position and surged into the box to hit his third goal so hard that it nearly lifted the Rainham End net off. Possibly his finest game was against Bury on 25th September 1963, the first ever floodlit match at Priestfield. A side two divisions higher than Gills couldn’t get anywhere near him. After fifteen minutes Gordon’s low cross panicked their right back to put through his own goal, and then two pile-drivers either side of half-time gave us a magical 3-0 win in the glittering wonderland that was Priestfield that night.

With Gills about to be promoted, Freddie Cox sought to strengthen the team, and in March 1964 he signed John Meredith from Chesterfield. He was a different type of player to Gordon, and made the left-wing berth his own with a run of 192 consecutive appearances. Gordon moved over to get some games on the right wing, where he was often extremely effective – for example a 4-0 win at Port Vale in February 1965 when all the goals came directly from his right-wing corners – but it was no real surprise when he moved on to Peterborough at the end of that year.




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