Tuesday December 5 – Port Vale 2- 0 Gills
This really was the away game from hell. Even back in July when the fixture computer cruelly decided to send us to shitty old Burslem on a Tuesday night in December this was never going to be an appealing game but if any of the 165 masochists that turned up in the away end on a fateful Tuesday night had known what sort of disgusting, gutless, pitiful, pathetic sort or “performance” they would be rewarded with, fifty three hours after most of them had trudged out of Ashton Gate then none of us would have bothered because the players didn’t. If they ever play like that again they can all fuck off and die and we’ll stick the youth team out.
Aside from an early flurry of attacks inspired by Jarvis this was a pretty forgettable game from early on. Port Vale took the lead in controversial circumstances on just eight minutes when the ball was carefully teed up for Gardner to shoot, it took a significant deflection off Whitaker who happened to be standing directly in front of Jack five yards offside and he interfered with the ball (diverting a soft saveable effort into a goal) but the officials were happy to allow the cheats to prosper. Game over.
Well it was all but over because the Gills hardly mustered a significant effort on goal in the remaining 82 minutes. We earned a whole series of corners but most went back post to Bentley and fizzled out. Ditto all the Flynn long throws and our possession. Vale were poor opponents, you could see how they’d lost 4-0 at Hereford and their fans sang “We’re shit but we’re beating you” which summed it up really.
The second half meandered along in the same casual manner, we had the ball, lumped it, lost it, lumped it, won corner, lost it. Vale pinged one effort right across the face of our goal and Guy was anonymous. The overall quality was poor, the atmosphere non-existent (the official crowd of 3077, the lowest in the division this season) looked even less scattered around the gloomy, depressing old stands of Vale Park.
It was like watching football in a mausoleum. Unfortunately we went on to lose to the stiffs. Jack had endured a dreadful evening; he looked shaky after bang he suffered at Bristol City and his kicking degenerated from a bit ropey to downright dangerous. It culminated in a second clinching goal with fifteen minutes to go. He shanked a simple goal kick, it skidded into a surprised melee of players in midfield whereby it was quickly seized upon by a Vale boot that promptly propelled it back whence it came into the path of Constantine who confidently took it in his stride, one on one with Jack before sliding it into the net. Jack did try to make amends late on with two magnificent saves but the damage had already been done. A belated Jarvis effort was deflected wide at the death but it was too little too late on a miserable night.
I stomped out in a foul mood, the traffic north had been heavy, there were no programmes for sale in the away end by the time I walked in from one quick pint at the deserted pub down the road and the queue for refreshments at half-time had taken the entire break despite there being just 165 possible customers. Port Vale football club is a pathetic shambolic place to watch football, but at least their fans are supposed to be a little more civilized than the animals that inhabit the Britannia Stadium down the road. On my way out one Port Vale youth jumped on my back, I initially thought it was just misplaced high spirits, I’d covered up my colours, I just mumbled something rude about our performances and shot him a dirty look. He then proceeded to follow me down the road with his mates repeatedly kicking my heels, trying to trip me up and provoke me whilst threatening me and calling Gills fans “southern cunts”.
Well I walked away as quickly as I could to catch up with the rest of our carload for the long journey back to civilization. It had been a shit day all round, the sort that makes you question why you bother. It is bad enough being let down by the rabble that masquerade as professional footballers without encountering shitheads like that. Not a hardened hooligan, just an ignorant chav bully. I’m glad we don’t live in the same climate at football that we had to endure in the 70’s and 80’s but one small part of me does wish the muppet had picked on someone from another era – he’d have spent Christmas sucking his dinner up through a straw
Champagne Moment:- The gradual realization that however bad it gets, at least I don’t live in Stoke or Burslem, the pimple on the arse of the end of the world.