Tuesday 8 January – Gills 1-1 Franchise Scum (FS won 5-4 on penalties)
A filthy night ended in filthy circumstances, but in much the same way that England’s crashing defeat to Croatia meant a clear-out and a re-think, there are similar positives to be taken from this tie. Though don’t get me wrong, if you had to sit and watch it there wasn’t an ounce of cheer to be had.
As soon as it was clear that our entire first choice midfield was suspended then defeat was highly likely. The loathsome Dons were understrength as well but always looked the stronger of the two sides. Stone and Southall tried manfully to take a grip of proceedings but with Brown and Cogan mere helium filled ornaments on the wings, we stood no chance. Mulligan was isolated and even when Griffiths replaced the labouring Facey, we had no cutting edge or cohesion in attack. Our only hope was that the defence held firm, a desire that is somewhat more likely to be rewarded now than at any other time in the last two years.
The first half was crap, notable only for one fine Royce save and Mulligan bursting through, surviving a kick in the face (the referee applied a rather warped interpretation of the advantage rule all night) only to lob wide in a state of groggy delusion. The second half was every bit as bad but enhanced my hope that Brown, Cogan and Lomas (who wasn’t on the bench despite our subs being a mish-mash of inexperienced youngsters and ageing snails) won’t play for the club again. I was surprised to see Stone on the transfer list instead of Cogan, but quite frankly none of our fringe players are good enough.
It was then an astonishing sight to witness Stone clump the ball into the Town End net with just minutes remaining. Hardly deserved, I briefly thought our name was on the cup. Briefly. Barely had Tom Hark subsided and the ball was in our net and the unspeakably pathetic franchise supporters were gurning and cavorting in our direction. I use the term “unspeakably pathetic” with caution – they actually travelled in decent numbers, made a din that put the Gills fans to shame and were a credit to their club. It’s just that their club deserves no credit and deserves no support. It’s sad they couldn’t have channelled that support into Northampton or Luton or Oxford or anyone other than a disgraced outfit who stole another club’s identity, history, soul and league place. So I don’t care how loud they sang their songs (especially when one of their charmless ditties declared Milton Keynes to be wonderful because it’s full of tits, fanny and MK), I just wanted to ignore them. With them sitting under the camera gantry in the Gordon Road Stand it’s a pity our fancy new scoreboard couldn’t be programmed to show a downward arrow with the words “Shameless fuckwits” flashing throughout the game.
The final whistle went and I started to text absentees in a grump about the prospect of extra time. When I next looked up, Nicky Southall was about to take a penalty. I can’t believe I didn’t know the rules. Talking of fuckwits, the lobotomised Priestfield stewards leapt into action at this point. Or rather they didn’t – clearly a penalty shoot-out at the Rainham End hadn’t been factored into their briefing. Those monitoring the away fans allowed them to move right down next to the penalty area, which could only light the blue touchpaper. Meanwhile, behind the goal barely a token effort was made to clear the over-excited throng. Nevertheless, the first eight penalties were all dispatched with the sort of finesse missing all evening. Then, with Luis Cumbers waiting to take our final kick, the stewards finally communicated with the officials and fatally delayed the shoot-out to try to clear the area around the goal. Some of our supporters might have been acting like prats but the situation hadn’t deteriorated. Cumbers hit the post, Diallo scored and we were out. The happy-clappy franchise slugs milked it, some kids got on the pitch with the minimum of effort and were comically chased by wheezing tits in yellow jackets, and it was all a bit unnecessary. Let’s just hope that Stimson’s transfer listed rejects are snapped up for big money and that Swansea prevent that obnoxious outfit appearing at Wembley.
Champagne Moment :
I suppose we did score four penalties. We haven’t done that in a shoot-out since 1988.
The Morty Vicker