Welcome to the special celebratory 100th Brian Moore’s Head. After sixteen and a half years, two promotions, one relegation, two trips to Wembley, receivership and four giant-killings we find ourselves still standing outside Priestfield providing an alternative view of the Gills – and NO, it’s not the flippin’ programme!
Football might have changed radically since 1988 but the same age-old grumbles crop up at the Gills as they do at most clubs. We don’t win enough games, we don’t score enough goals, some of our players aren’t up to the job and the ticket prices are too high.
As we edge towards the sharp end of the season the worry at Priestfield is simple – time is running out if we are to dodge the relegation trap door. We’ve been languishing in the drop zone since mid-October but all is not yet lost. At the time of writing Plymouth and Coventry are four points ahead of us with thirteen games to go. It will be tough, most fans fear the worst, but whilst there is still hope we should all give the team maximum support despite all their flaws and their almost comical inability to score goals.
Our form under Ternent has improved significantly, as has our organisation and defensive coordination but unless we sign a creative force and a goal scorer we will struggle to pick up the further 18 or 19 points required. Missed chances at Watford and the conceding of THAT equaliser at Wolves has left us with a pitiful away record (one win) which has partially nullified our good home form of late. We haven’t actually beaten a side from outside the bottom third since Burnley in August so that will have to be rectified if we are to give ourselves any chance of avoiding League One.
Off the field and things are if anything even grimmer. Our overdraft has grown to beyond £9 million (annual interest payments of £600,000) and Scally’s season ticket and matchday prices for next season smack of desperation. To demand payment in February with just two weeks notice before we know what division we’ll be in and with enormous hikes even for payment in March (30% in the Rainham End!) is sheer insanity. It will see season ticket sales collapse and if (when) we go down next season the “AAA” prices will deter all but the wealthiest and deranged casual fans. It appears to be a massive and dangerous miscalculation.
After two seasons of battling relegation the supporters deserve more, the fans aren’t responsible for the financial mismanagement and yet they are expected to bail the club out at short notice despite knowing the squad is being dismantled (Tommy Johnson the latest to go) without sufficient replacements being brought in. That is a recipe for disaster and the classical cause of a downward spiral that has clobbered dozens of clubs over the last few years.
If we are to avoid the fate of the likes of Stockport, Grimsby and Barnsley then the players, supporters and everyone connected with Gillingham Football Club need to fight to the bitter end and not just give in to relegation. We spent 107 years battling to reach the “promised land”, we must not casually throw that all away between now and May the 8th. Last season we slipped into trouble, this time we are battle-hardened and trying to dig our way out. What we need now is mental toughness, oh and some luck! Enjoy!