Oh dear, it isn’t going well is it? Friday night against Scunthorpe saw a significant proportion of the Rainham End calling for Scally to go in no uncertain terms – the rest of Priestfield wasn’t slow in joining in either. “We want Scally OUT” and “Fuck off back to Millwall” along with that old favourite “ITV Digital” and the new anthem “He’s short, he’s bent, and all the money’s spent! On his house, on his house…” tends to suggest the admirable patience of the rapidly dwindling and utterly miserable Gillingham support had finally snapped.
The fact that we had five great chances to score and missed the lot before falling to two sucker punches against an obviously poor side just before half-time just summed up the situation at the moment. We simply can’t score goals, we can’t take chances; we are allergic to propelling the spherical object into the onion bag and are prone to conceding laughable goals – not a happy combination I’m sure you’ll agree!
The end result of the weekend’s fixtures saw the Gills sitting non too proudly in 23rd position above only Rotherham United who began the season on minus-ten points having gone into administration at the end of last season… Having beaten Huddersfield in stirring fashion on the opening day the Gills have subsequently slipped to a string of not too impressive results. Missed chances and a soft goal at Brighton, 2-0 up and a collapse at Bradford, mugged by Northampton’s only attack, blighted by errors at the back at Millwall, denied in the dying seconds at Blackpool after an alarming wobble and then mugged again by Scunthorpe.
The blame for the results can be directed at many people, the players; too many individual errors (at least one cataclysmic one per game), too many individuals under performing, the management; we all know certain individuals can do better. MAKE THEM DO SO! However the bottom line is as ever with the chairman and chief executive, who as you will all appreciate at the Gills is one in the same person, a certain Paul Scally. Our debt (at least £10 million and growing) has basically hamstrung us. We can’t afford to pay decent wages let alone pay transfer fees so our best talent leaves at the end of their contracts for fuck all (Nosworthy, Brown, Byfield), we can’t sign top quality replacements, have to raid the bargain basement and then with the inevitable decline in results due to having to employ poor quality replacements (and not very many of them at that) that are not up to the job, crowds dwindle and the deathly spiral continues towards oblivion.
Scally is clearly doing his best to keep our heads above water with the bank but without significant investment either from him (no sniggering at the back) or from outside it looks like administration could be on the cards sooner rather than later. The attendance of 5,749 against Scunthorpe (it looked more like 4700) might have been as expected on a rearranged Friday night but with 4000 season ticket holders our ongoing income isn’t going to cover the interest repayments for long – especially without anyone at all employed during August in the commercial department!?! With the executive seating deserted, the sponsorship pages devoid of sponsors and the replica shirts contriving to be unbelievably ugly, uncomfortable and scratchy, the short term cash flow isn’t going to be great – especially with fans not exactly clamouring to watch that shite at £23 a pop in the Rainham End!
Now I’m sure the vast majority of our usual readers will have enjoyed the cathartic effect of calling for Scally’s head at Priestfield for the first time without the risk of being shouted down, away fans have already done it with great gusto and no little originality at Colchester and Bristol City, but it was really just a gesture. It was significant in that it marked a point whereby the crowd finally volubly turned on our chairman of the last eleven years (rather than voting silently with their feet – 4000 missing and counting), the taboo was broken, the line crossed, but as ever they were still torn between backing the players as they strived manfully to pull a goal or two back and abusing the individual they hold responsible for the fine mess we now find ourselves in.
Villa fans will no doubt tell us they have been calling for Doug Ellis to go for twenty years and it didn’t have much effect until some Yank investor called Randy came along with an offer too good for him to refuse. We could be grumbling and calling for Scally to go for the next twenty years (now there is a sobering thought) but until an alternative investor comes along willing to splash the cash or the Bank of Scotland calls an end to our borrowing and the administrators are called in Scally will probably want to stay given his ambitious dreams of a 24,000 stadium elsewhere – although with no site, no investors, no money, no permission and no good will left he might struggle to realise his ambitions (three to five years minimum for such a venture even if it go the green light today) before we find ourselves having gone full circle and starring the Conference and or oblivion in the face.
If we find ourselves losing at home to Millwall in a couple of weeks the crowd reaction could get very lively indeed… what the reaction of Scally will be is unclear – he will probably point to three new stands, two promotions and five years in the Championship and call us ungrateful bastards but the reality is of gross mismanagement of the redevelopment of Priestfield, no significant financial investment in the team since the summer of 2000 (King, Hope & Shaw) which is now six long years ago. The squad has been in decline since 2001 and we are now seeing the natural result of such a policy. It might be heart-warming to see Akinbiyi, King and Henderson gracing the Premiership but we would kill now for a striker with even 1% of King or Akinbiyi’s ability to score a few goals right now.
Friday wasn’t the end for Scally, it might not even be the beginning of the end for our bespectacled Millwall loving chairman, but it does mean that he will no longer get a free ride from the remarkably patient and some might say gullible Gillingham support. From now on he is going to have to start to turn things round and quickly or will have to get used to Priestfield reverberating to some less than complimentary anthems. His luck might just have begun to run out… and so might ours.
Up The Gills!