Saturday 13 January – Gills 0 – 2 Doncaster
Watching Gillingham defend is like being stuck in a recurring nightmare. Think of the film Groundhog Day, and replace Bill Murray with Ian Cox and you get the picture. I can’t even be bothered to describe the events anymore. Suffice to say we conceded two late goals because 1) Ian Cox fell over, causing us to concede a needless corner from which Donny scored with a free header inside the six yard box. 2) Danny Spiller fell over, and their bloke ran away with the ball and twatted it into the top corner. Two clean sheets in 31 League and Cup games now. It’s pathetic, awful and inexcusable.
The sad thing is these events came at the end of a bright second half display, in which Matt Jarvis led the visiting defence a merry dance, and we carved out a number of decent chances which we failed to convert through a mixture of bad luck, bad finishing and bad hair dos. But it’s been said so many times this season that it really has got boring – we will get nowhere all the time we are relying on the hapless collection of so called defenders currently in the team.
It’s always a sign that things at the club are not exactly harmonious when you have the home supporters threatening to punch each other’s lights out. After Spiller’s error for the second goal a chant of `Fuck off Spiller` was the catalyst for a mass argument, which became increasingly heated and threatened to turn to a spot of fisticuffs until swift and efficient intervention from our crack team of stewards (can anyone spot the irony in that last statement?!)
What actually happened was that the stewards gingerly crept up the stairs towards the back of the Rainham End (bravely allowing their female colleague to lead – in the interests of sexual equality obviously), whilst various finger wagging insults were being traded. The Head Steward, meanwhile, peeled off in a dangerous pincer movement and told a young scamp on the absolute periphery of events to calm down. He then bravely marshaled events from behind half a dozen colleagues (well clearly he needed to be able to have a clear view of proceedings to enable him to maintain control through expert use of his walkie talkie). A mass outbreak of handbags, the whole thing fizzled out quite quickly, and we settled down to a few minutes of gallows humour before the final whistle signalled that those of us still left (half the crowd had made for the exits almost before the second goal hit the back of the net) may vacant the stadium.
The chant that actually led to the confrontation was probably unfair, in that Danny Spiller was hardly singlehandedly to blame for the defeat, or indeed for the general malaise that is affecting the club. But in many ways he represents everything that has gone wrong on the pitch in the last few years. A player of undoubted talent and a former player of the year, but there is a general perception that he has been pissing his career up the wall for far too long. The team spirit put in place under Tony Pulis, which launched us into the upper echelons of the Football League, has been dissipating for several years, and probably finally expired when Andy Hessenthaler departed.
Champagne Moment:– In the aftermath of the Rainham End handbags outbreak, several amusing chants were aimed at the Head Steward, but `Where’s your lollipop?!` was definitely the best