Saturday 6 October – Swine 5 – 0 Gills
Fucking Hell – where do you start? I just hope this is the lowest point, I really do. If in twelve months time we’re losing 5-0 at Accrington Stanley in League Two then it won’t have been, but all out worst nightmares came true on Saturday at the County Ground.
5-0 doesn’t even begin to tell the story. We weren’t just lucky to get nil, if the Swine could actually shoot straight it would have been ten or more. The players should hang their heads in shame; it was a fucking, cunting disgrace from first minute to last. If we could sack the lot of them and start all over again from scratch most people who witnessed this disgusting debacle would heartily vote “aye”, but only if we could all line up and take it in turns to smack the fuckers round the head with a wet haddock first
If you asked why it happened though most fans would be at a loss to explain the Jeykll and Hyde tendencies that are so spectacularly divergent – how we can hold a rampant Leeds side one week (albeit with nine men) and then beat the leaders Orient 3-1 in a fine game of entertaining football and then capitulate like “this”. We were forced to hang on a bit on Tuesday night, but that proves the point, we ARE capable of taking our chances (three versus the O’s) and hanging on to a lead in the face of sustained pressure. So what the feck is going on away from home
We were all relieved to see the back of Jepson and all hoped things would begin to improve, at Priestfield we aren’t too bad, but away it is the most unprofessional, gutless shambolic pile of shite I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve been going 29 years, I watched us home and away during the darkest days of 89-95, every game on the notorious 92-93 season and yet none of that compares with the current crop. We endured eighteen months without an away win and many late goals and errors, but invariably we were losing by the odd goal, 0-1, 1-2, 0-2, 0-1, 1-2 with the odd 1-1 thrown in for good measure. It was depressing and got to be a bit of a slog in a northern division, but the fans appreciated that although the players weren’t very good, they were giving the required 100% effort, (sometimes even the magical 110% for our more mathematically challenged players). It wasn’t perfect and there were fraught moments, but never sustained contempt bordering on hatred directed at the players week in week out
This season away the Gills have been embarrassing, losing by 1,2,3,4 and now 5. Do you spot a trend? If I were a betting man I’d be putting money on Carlisle smacking 6 past us on the 20th. Unlikely? Well I suppose they did only manage five against us back in March (four in the last nine minutes)… We could have lost by more at Cheltenham, many more at Luton, a shed load more at Southend, a bucket load at Forest and double figures at the Swine. Our record is a joke but we could have easily have conceded double what we have done (16 in five, or 19 in six if you include Watford reserves). I suppose that would have garnered more national attention
So why are we so shit? Obviously the players aren’t very good but we’ve been terminally useless away from home for nearly four years now. A whole series of managers and players have passed through, the only constants being Scally and the fans that travel away. Scally might have his faults but he doesn’t actually play for or manage the team. So what is it? Are we cursed? Do they need a sports psychologist or even a fecking psychiatrist? If they don’t get their act together soon the rest of us will
And so rant over, here comes the grim detail of an infamous afternoon in the chequered history of one Gillingham Football Club. Those of a nervous disposition should look away now and rejoin us at the bottom with the “Champagne Moment”. Any stray Swindon fans reading this please don’t laugh too loudly, your head might fall off.
I’ll be honest I was actually looking forward to this game, Swindon away on a Saturday for the first time since the early 1980’s. Having witnessed many Gills vs. Swindon games since my first in 1979 I wanted to see the Gills win this one (or at least not lose) more than any other game this season. If anyone asks me who are rivals are I always instantly reply “Swindon”. That means I’m over thirty, it also means that I still care. Some of the current players weren’t even born in 1987 and I can’t think many of them are aware of the history of the fixtures between the two sides, but some of them must have been vaguely aware that this wasn’t just another routine game if they played in the 2005 fixtures.
The “special” nature of the relationship between the two clubs and the desire of some forty-somethings to re-enact their miss-spent youths meant it was never going to be a relaxing afternoon, colours were left at home or carefully concealed, but I was still looking forward with adrenalin-driven anticipation to this one as we strolled down Manchester Road towards the County Ground, the car park behind the home end, the magic roundabout and the serried ranks of narrow terraced houses still feature, familiar from the 80’s. Given our upturn in fortunes in the previous seven days I even harboured private fantasies of a heroic point, or heaven forbid a famous against the odds victory, the first at the County Ground since Micky Adams did the decent thing and sent the Swine on their way towards relegation in 1983.
I was wrong. My hopes and dreams were completely gone just six minutes in, two goals down and to be honest we’d been lucky to hold out for the first four minutes. We were caught cold. No, actually we were comatose from the off. Marvin Hamilton was less than marvellous but it would be unfair to single out a young lad with no experience playing out of position against a decent side but, the fact he was having to play in that position illustrates both the poverty and the emaciated nature of our squad. The midfield were non-existent, giving the nervous defence no protection and so the thrashing began…
Four minutes in and a long lofted ball down the flanks (the right as we looked) caused more trouble than it really should have, our “defence” looked square and dithered, the ball was then lobbed up and across the box by Easton for the unmarked McGovern to volley home. Hmm that looked easy we thought. The more excitable Swindon fans to our left danced merrily in the aisles, we pretended not to notice them. Two minutes later and we were already sensing the familiar numbing helplessness that tends to accompany a Gillingham away game. If we’d not been so consistently, totally shite previously over 1,000 Gills would have made the trip for old time’s sake – as it was barely 400 were scattered across the uncovered Stratton Bank, some “lads” had made the effort and joined in with some of the younger fans for a bit of baiting and banter with the local yokels, but 2-0 down somewhat took the wind out of everybody’s sails
The second goal summed up our season, we could have cleared the ball half a dozen times but didn’t, it was laughable, it was pathetic. A routine corner was half cleared, twice, Swindon headed the ball back into our box, I know, a dirty underhand tactic bordering on ungentlemanly conduct which we failed to deal with three times. Various assorted tits in blue tried to hack the spherical object away from danger but it proved beyond them, the ball finally ricocheting to Cox who hooked the ball sweetly into the top left hand corner from twelve yards. Hmm, 2-0 and all those people with not enough fingers and too many toes were laughing at us, oh dear
The rest of the half was equally one-sided as Swindon staged a “who can miss the easiest sitter” competition, we barely mustered an attack let alone a shot, it was just a case of shooting practice for the Robins with Royce manfully sticking to his job despite being woefully unprotected. Their Cox drilled one across the face of the goal when even a modicum of composure would have seen him score his second and as the half drew to a merciful close Painter headed wide when it looked easier to score. 2-0 down, should have been 4-0 at least, the Iffy & Doc honeymoon was most certainly over. Some of the Gills fans made their own entertainment by arguing amongst themselves. The second half was even worse, no really
Now 2-0 is supposed to be a tricky lead in football, there is a risk of getting complacent, one goal can change the whole complexion of the game, we should have tried to stem the tide, stifle the game, try to nick one back, make Swindon nervous. Unfortunately straight from kick-off Swindon nearly scored a third, hit the post with an over-head kick moments later and then did so six minutes in after an undistinguished series of head-tennis. Eventually the ball was headed our way, the defence parted, Paynter seized on the loose ball, barrelled into the box and lashed the ball into the roof of the net – easy as ABC, or as they say in Wiltshire XTC
It was at this point that the first Gills fans walked out, but they weren’t the last. It was mostly shooting practice for the reds with Royce flinging himself around to keep the score down, but the Gills did enjoy a brief flurry of activity which saw Cogan smack one shot against the post and the Gills denied a stone cold penalty for a blatant foul in the box, but we’d have missed it anyway… Paynter then nearly broke the bar with a smart snap-shot from the edge of the box
The fourth killer goal (well you know what I mean, the 2nd was actually the killer) arrived on 62 minutes, Cox again doing the damage. A simple tactic of moving the ball down the wing and a lofted cross for Cox to power home a header proving too much for our shell-shocked fucktards.
It was at this point that I went to retrieve our “Kent’s Finest” Gillingham flag, draped over the seats, to a chorus of “wanker wanker” from the inbreed muppets to our left, Gillingham fans were meandering out as the afternoon continued to disintegrate. All the “lads” exited stage right, the police quick to shepherd them in the direction of the next fast train to London, but by then most Gillingham fans wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else, but were too stunned to move. Those that remained responded to a hearty chorus of “You’re so shit it’s unbelievable” from the Swindon fans by simply joining in – previously unthinkable at a Swindon game – except the biggest cunts at the County Ground that afternoon weren’t the Swindon fans for once, even the less-sophisticated ones, it was the Gillingham players.
With six minutes to go Paynter scored his second and Swindon’s fifth, it was such a mad goal even a Sunday pub team would have blushed. It all began with a sliced clearance down towards the right corner, Cogan chased back to deal with it, his solution to the problem being to slice the ball across the field into the penalty area where two players were standing minding their own business. They were both wearing red shirts, Paynter decided to do the honours taking on the stray ball, walking it round the prostrate Royce and tapping it into the empty net. 5-0. Swindon then laid siege to our goal in search of the sixth, I think they hit the woodwork again, I think Royce made a save or two and they missed a few, I was a bit dazed but it all by then, back down our end Facey contrived to not score with a free header from one yard out. The locals brayed with malicious joy, the Gills fans berated their team, but it was pointless. We had been totally outplayed and humiliated from start to finish.
The final whistle saw angry words exchanged with the players, Clohessy took offence to which my reply it simple. Your performance was offensive. Ever dare to do it again and you can just fuck off to the Kent League. I didn’t applaud them off. The stroll back to Swindon station was never going to be fun, especially if we’d won, but 5-0 put the local yokels in a less belligerent mood until we turned into the station approach to be faced by fifty of sixty assorted hooligans up for what was once known as a proper fight. Thankfully the local plod were swiftly on the case, ushering Wiltshire’s finest inbred scum to one side, shutting the station to all but legitimate ticket holders and sifting those heading for Chippenham to one side. It could have got very messy indeed, very well done to the police. I didn’t really fancy getting my head caved in too
The trip back saw some pretty subdued Gills fans quietly debating what went wrong and why we are quite to poor away from home. None of us really know, but this game was another nail in the coffin of Gillingham Football Club. Many fans are now vowing not to go to another away game until the current shower of shit buck their ideas up.
We drowned our sorrows back in London, news that we’d be getting two free tickets for a home game brought a few exclamations of surprise but didn’t exactly solve the fundamental problem that the players are mostly shit and when we play away from home are very, very, very, shit indeed. Not fit to wear the shirts? Not fit to be professional footballers more like. If they do the same at Carlisle they can all fuck off and die.
Champagne Moment:- Hmm, aside from not getting my head kicked in outside the station after the game I can’t think of one off the top of my head.