Oli wood

Saturday 24 November – Gills 2-1 Hartlepool United

OK, so I leave the country for a bit, spending 10 days without mobile phone coverage, tv or internet, and come home to a new world order. Surely we’ve never had so many people making their debuts on the same day (other than on the opening day of the season) before? And there I was still trying to work out who was who among those we brought in during the summer. Of the 14 players used against Hartlepool, only three were with us this time last year.

Suddenly we have a player who would have no recollection of Euro 96 and won’t be able to play in midweek games because of GCSE homework. We have a player called Shebang or something from QPR. And we have a collection of born and bred non-leaguers of every shape, size and hairdo. Not since Pulis revamped the side in 1995 have we enjoyed such an influx, and if they gel half as well as that lot did – admittedly in a division below – then at last we have room for optimism.

Early impressions of Stimson have been favourable. We’ve been trying to play a bit of football and we’ve at least been attacking with pace and purpose even if we are still desperately limited. He’s sent out a clear message to our senior pros, with Mulligan, Facey, Graham and Crofts absent even from the bench – I suspect he’s told the first three to go away and get fit (whether it’s niggling injuries or a suspicion of a lack of match fitness) and recruited replacements from the resources he knows best.

That said, the first half against the monkey hangers was rather pitiful, though the crowd remained patient. A soft goal following a failure to clear could easily have been added to, with Royce making one startling save from a diving header. Player of the season so far for me, he’s kept us in touch in several games recently. Given that presumably no-one in the side knew each other’s names it could have been a lot worse, and the defence just about held together (the one fright being when Bygrave played a backpass to where he thought Royce might be standing, only to collapse in horror, head in hands, when he realised our custodian was somewhat out of position, forcing a lot of scuttling back to save face).

Way more pitiful than the action on the pitch was the half-time entertainment, an Invicta FM Spice Girls tribute band comprising of five frozen teenagers belting out a raucous version of Wannabe to a cacophony of boos. Bring back the police dog demonstrations from the 70s, that’s what I say… 

The second half wasn’t a whole lot better, but the pace of Oli and Dickson was causing problems and we got the break we needed when fatal hesitation in the visitors’ penalty area enable Oli to nip in and lob the keeper. The players swarmed as one to the Rainham End to celebrate, and “Ole Ole Ole Ole Oli Oli” rang out for the first time. Stone and Dickson went desperately close before Oli turned things round completely, running at the Hartelpool defenders, all of whom seemed petrified of committing to a tackle, and sliding the ball under the keeper. Meanwhile, Royce made two further point blank saves to preserve the lead.

In truth, we held on relatively comfortably. Of the new boys, Oli obviously shone through but Thurgood looked assured (I saw him play for Grays against Stevenage last season in the FA Trophy – he was an arch nutjob, a complete wind-up merchant who eventually got himself sent off….I reckon we’ll warm to him no problem) and Miller ran around like a demented gazelle, winning more balls than he had any right to, putting over a few decent crosses and even screaming at the keeper when he charged down clearances. The jury’s still out on Griffiths – as at Yeovil, he seemed rather off the pace – while young Freeman can clearly look after himself even if he should really still be arsing about with skateboards. Ten games unbeaten at Priestfield and a bit of breathing space at the bottom, but the crunch is going to come in our ability to start grinding out a few points away from home.

Champagne Moment

It should of course be Dennis Oli’s brace, but I’m a sucker for the “ball off the Gordon Road Stand roof and onto the slaphead linesman” routine – it only happens about once a decade…

The Morty Vicker

10 Responses to Oli wood

  1. James 111 King of Surrey says:

    missed the game v Donny but if they were as good (or better) than the monkey hangers then Mr Stimson will need to concentrate on quality as well as upping the fitness levels. These two teams are only mid table yet Hartlepool never stopped running and for much of the game had our lads chasing shadows. I would hope that with the improved fitness there will be a corresponding upping in quality as its pointless having a team full of marathon runners who can’t control a football. Still, that’s for the future. Considering the team hardly even knew each other at kickoff the signs were promising and having Dickson for another month will make it worthwhile leaving the kingdom to visit Priestfield…oops sorry KRBS Priestfield

  2. Bernard says:

    Bit harsh i reckon. I thought we were excellent in the second half. The best i’ve seen the Gills play this season, by a long, long way.

  3. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but I agree with Bernard. I thought the crowd reaction was very harsh at half time considering the amount of new players out there (and I am one of the most negative people I know).
    Lets face it, anything, and I mean anything, is better than the wank we watched at Barnet, so let the revolution continue. The people who sit around making jokes about non-league players for a non-league team have quickly forgotten the ex-premiership toss we have fielded over the last few years. Lomas? Johnson? Utter wankers. Wallace was a complete disappointment too.
    I might sound like Mike Bassett, but give me energy, commitment and fight any day.
    Up the Gills!

  4. PettsWoodGill says:

    Agree with Bernard as well !!!

    Can’t understand why people booed at half time. Give them a chance. I reckon we need to wait ’till at least after Xmas as Stimmo needs that time to get them fit and teach them how to play football.

    As half the team had barely met, the fact that they got it together to some extent after just 45 minutes is encouraging. I accept that Hartlepool were unlucky and played the ball around better than us but I’m prepared to give these boys a chance. The previous lot were largely a mixture of past-it, lazy, talentless hoofers – exemplified by the stupendously underachieving Steve ‘Lardarse’.

  5. Jon says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the best 45 minutes of the season – Leyton Orient? – but it was so encouraging. Like everyone else, I couldn’t believe it when people booed – it was a disappointing first half, but you would have to be a complete idiot to not realise it’s a team in transition.

    Second half was good though, and we looked like scoring every time we attacked… Although perhaps we could and should have attacked even more.

    I was most impressed by Miller and Thurgood, but I have to echo the comments about Griffiths – the guys is out of his depth, I fear.

    Bring on the Crewe… No wins in 36 years!!

  6. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    Griffiths is definitely out of his depth, but the others looked okay.
    I thought the funniest thing was that the pre-match huddle was longer than usual – were they all introducing themselves?

  7. Bernard says:

    Yeah Griffiths looks like the only dodgy player Stimson has brought in – but he was only on a month’s loan.

    Thurgood was excellent – how refreshing to see a player look up and play some passes to feet.

    Oli has great pace and is very good at running at people. More of a winger than a forward in my eyes.

    I’m excited about Nutter – but he doesn’t deserve to be first choice left back at this moment in tim. Armstrong hasn’t put a foot wrong in the last 3 games he’s played. Still needs to put his foot on the ball more, rather than just lumping it forward.

    Miller brings a bit of creativity to the side – something that has been desperately lacking.

    All in all, exciting times ahead. Especially if we get rid of some of the the squad. Lomas, Graham, Sodje to name just a few. Sodje’s a liability. Graham might be good on the ball.. but so what? He’s a lazy bastard with an attitude. The less said about Slomas the better. Maybe even Facey, Mullers and Trigger, but that would mean a depleted squad again.

  8. Chris says:

    I like Graham and would be disappointed if he left because I think if Stimson can get him in shape he’d be an incredibly valuable player to us.

  9. James 111 King of Surrey says:

    Agree with Chris..Graham does have ability and has scored the best goal that I have seen at Priestfield this season. If he can shed about a stone in weight he could be a valuable player alongside Oli when Dickson eventually returns to happy Valley. In fact if the other players namely Mullers Facey Trigger and Andrew Crofts as mentioned by Bernard previously could show some more sustained effort we could begin to have what looks like a good squad. thinking about it where is my betting slip,perhaps the Gills could make the play-offs. Oh for some points on the road!!!

  10. Simon Buttensaw says:

    ‘The Police Dog displays of the 1970s’?? Blimey I’d almost forgotten about them… seem to remember the dogs jumping through hoops of fire several times before the grand finale – a copper dressed up as a robber would get chased by a dog, who would of course catch up with him and bite him! I was a young lad at the time and thought this was great… something slightly Lions v. Christians about seeing some big oaf having his backside bitten by an alsation in front of 5,000 people.

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