Now I have been coming to Priestfield since 1995, during that time I have seen some fantastic players, Ade Akinbiyi, Super Bob, Paul Smith in his prime, Hessy, Ade Pennock, Marlon King, Paul Shaw etc etc, I have also seen some very bad players, Barry Miller, Charlie Mitton, Billy Manuel, Most of Neale Cooper and Ronnie Jepson’s signings – I think that has given me a very good cross section of the good and the bad.
When Tony Pullis came in he injected a bit nastiness and some experience into a side made up of journeymen footballers – Priestfield became a fortress, and we marched to promotion, we had a couple of years of getting to know the new division then had a good two years of pushing for promotion before the fantastic (2nd) day at Wembley.
That season in 1999 was an amazing rollercoaster of emotion, which ended with a fantastic promotion as well as a fantastic FA Cup run which ended at Stamford Bridge. Peter Taylor had moulded an already capable streetwise bunch of footballers into a team which started to play football from the back.
Our new manager has taken a bunch of useless unfit footballers, figured out who was shit and who wanted to stay – and is now moulding them into a unit. Led by the rapidly improving Simon King at the back, and epitomised by the Alice band wonder that is “windy” Miller, our team is taking shape, and looking good for (dare one say it) a late run at the play-offs. History will tell that form teams at the start of the year usually go up through the play-offs.
Our esteemed Chairman has to take a bit of credit here – remember the moaning on the message boards that we all read and post on after 8 weeks of no manager? He bided his time until “Stimmo” (another Jamie Reed nickname?) was available – and the man has done a fantastic job since he has been here. I think we can safely say that Mr Scally has done the club proud with his appointment.
Let’s look at Stimson’s signings: –
Nutter: Solid left-back, fantastic distribution, reliable gets his tackles in (just what we needed here)
Miller: A Revelation, very Paul Shaw like with his prompting from midfield, scores goals too!
Bygrave: Only on loan, but forming a good partnership with Simon King
Oli: Scored a couple of goals, but jury is still out, looks exciting, but a little lightweight to me.
Griffiths: A bit of an “impact player” but still an asset
Thurgood: A good footballer, good range of passing, puts his foot in
The only thing really missing is that 20 goals a season man up front and let’s face it; we have been spoilt in the past with those sorts of players. With the promise of more players to come, and 9 of the current squad up for loan/Sale things are looking bright for the first time in 4 seasons.
The chairman has finally done something (better late than never) to stop the rot, now it’s time for us fans to do our bit too. Remember in the late 90’s how Priestfield was a horrible place to visit for away teams? This was due in no small part to the intimidating atmosphere that we fans created, if we could get back to that, our team and we fans could have a very good 2008