Tuesday 1st November – Hartlepool United 3-1 Gills
Only 133 Gills fans made the epic trek up to the land of the Monkey Hangers on a Tuesday night (the lowest of the Scally era) for the rearranged League game that had been postponed from early October due to international calls ups – surely a first for a Gills vs. Hartlepool game! Of the mad buggers that made the effort, several of them flew and stayed in Newcastle, some stayed the night in Hartlepool (the last train out of town anywhere was before the game finished!?!) and the rest endured epic car or coach trips. They were not pleased to be rewarded with a fecking pathetic showing by the Gills “team”.
Much had been made locally of the return of Neale Cooper to his old club where he remains incredibly popular and you’d have thought he’d have motivated the Gills team to put in a decent performance against his former employers but before the game he annoyed the inhabitants of the away shed (where food ran out because some official twat at the Gills had told them we were only bringing 17 fans!!!) by responding enthusiastically with a jaunty wave to home chants and totally blanking the away end’s boisterous efforts.
Hopes were high that the Gills could get something from opponents that were suffering badly from a post-play-off hangover and who had only won once at Victoria Park all season in the League but we were well beaten.
The first half was fairly even, quite open and entertaining. An injury crisis and a mysterious bout of food poisoning for Smith left the Gills with an inexperienced bench (Collin, Corneille & Stone) but the Gills began brightly but Harris typically missed with his early header and then the lively Jarvis contrived to shoot right across the face of the goal, a bad miss given the circumstances.
We were soon rueing the squandering of such chances because at the other end some collective defending that even schoolboys would have been embarrassed to be responsible on 15 minutes gifted United the lead. Humphries got to the byline (he really should have been closed out), and pulled the ball back into the danger area, the ball wasn’t properly cleared despite all the bodies in the box and from the edge of the box was scuffed messily back into the melee where it bounced up conveniently for Daly to hook the ball softly goalwards. The flat-footed defenders and leaden Bullock watched it drift apologetically into the net. With Konstantopoulos denying Flynn and Jarvis spurning another chance created by his lightning pace we went in 1-0 down but hopeful that the second half would see a marked improvement.
What we got was a fucking shambles, it was one-way traffic and a second goal on 48 minutes ended the game as a contest. A fine move culminated in the ball finding Sweeney unmarked eight yards out to sweep home. Stone (who?) came on for Hessenthaler followed by the more dangerous Collin but they are raw and young lads, they were unable to turn the tide.
Nelson saw one header fumbled onto the post by Bullock before they made it 3-0 on 86 minutes via a smart Bullock header (their Bullock, not ours, that really would have been taking the piss). In the last minute we were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, it was passed back into the path of one Gills player, he slipped, the home fans jeered, we groaned but moments later Collin fired the loose ball unerringly into the net for a fine first League goal. The only bright moment on pretty feeble night where we could easily have lost 5-0, I ended up in a 70’s theme bar drowning my sorrows thankful for just one thing; that I don’t live in Hartlepool.
Champagne Moment: The 133 Gills fans singing “all we are singing is give us a shot” moments before Frannie Collin drilled the ball in (our first of the half). Cue next attack; “all we are singing is give us two shots” – result? Ball heading comically towards the corner flag…