Saturday 3 February – Huddersfield Town 3-1 Gills
Total and utter pile of wank. WANK. I haven’t been to a long distance away game since Bradford in August, and no matter how much I enjoyed the usual concoction of reckless drinking, gormless idiocy (which even featured one of our number getting on the wrong train before we’d left Kings Cross, resolved only via a farcical phone call and a wave across platforms), stupid conversations, surreal quizzes and petty squabbles, by ten past three I was miserable and that feeling lasted until the football finished.
Too many weekends are ruined by the sort of tragic defending that left us 2-0 down before we’d got the wrappers off the balti pies, but the truth is I didn’t care. The sole reason for travelling left me totally indifferent. Mulligan’s goal, a well taken header from a Nicky Southall cross, turned out to be the least celebrated goal I’ve ever witnessed. I didn’t even bother clapping. For others, maybe in different phases of supporting the club or maybe who simply react to adversity in different ways, the anger couldn’t be contained, both at the first half performance and the way we threw away the chance to get back into the game by going AWOL again for Booth’s clincher. I guess I’ll snap out of it but at the moment I just can’t bring myself to care.
The problems are many and varied. We haven’t got a goal-keeper. The “dream” defence twice left one man on two forwards in the opening exchanges, with Sancho back to his ill-disciplined best. Players like Crofts and Flynn still aren’t performing at the level they managed a division above. Mulligan can’t get by on hard work alone and McDonald was completely isolated (and of course started getting the “lazy and disinterested” jibes as a result). I thought Southall was man of the match – he didn’t do a lot in his second spell at Priestfield but he’s shone at Forest and the quality of his set piece delivery was a significant notch above most of what we’ve had to put up with.
Huddersfield – as on the opening day – were highly unexceptional. But they brushed us aside without so much as breaking sweat or wind. As I sat daydreaming, others turned on Jepson and Scally, with plenty of players singled out for abuse as well. I don’t buy the “lack of passion” charge – I just think our paper-thin squad is 1) not good enough and 2) too fragile to show any kind of consistency, they end up lost like little boys, no sense of being street wise and lacking leadership on the pitch. Jepson is making a lot of errors but I don’t think we’ll go down under him, he’s proved that he’s got the resilience to sort things out in the past. The ever larger presence of Iffy is a strange one – a few are calling for him to take over (like it was that simple, financially apart from anything else) and part of me would love my favourite ever Gills player to be at the helm. But he’s inexperienced, he’ll have no resources to change things round and before we know it we’ll still be scrabbling around in the lower reaches of League One, a nagging fear of being sucked into a relegation battle, and Iffy will no longer be the legend we loved. Remember Damien Richardson?
Jepson’s got a thankless task and we need to soldier on. Unlikely as it seems we might embark on a mini run of four wins to get the points we need to keep us out of trouble. The home form will be crucial. And I suggest you don’t travel away unless you’ve got plenty of tangents to explore.
Nothing that happened inside the McAlpine. Or Galpharm. Or whatever that place is called now.
The Morty Vicker