I think we’re almost a “binary” football club, all the results at Priestfield in 2008 including the JPT, League Cup and three pre-season friendlies read thus:- 1-1, 0-1, 0-0, 0-0, 1-0, 0-0, 0-3, 2-1, 0-0, 2-1, 1-2, 1-1, 0-1, 1-1, 0-2, 0-1, 0-1… The last meaningful goal was scored by Garry Richards against Swindon Town back on 26th April 2008. The League record in 2008 reads Played 12, Won 3, Drawn 5, Lost 4, For 7 Against 10! This perhaps explains, if not excuses the anger and frustration shown at the Luton game. I can completely understand the rage and annoyance, this wasn’t just a one-off it was the culmination of four and a half solid, unremitting years of failure. At least during the decline form at Priestfield results wise wasn’t usually too bad even if the quality was mediocre, a good job too given our away form over the same period!?!
However now people have got it out of the system perhaps it would be more helpful to write it off as our own “Year Zero” – time to reset to our default setting back to actually supporting our own football team – nobody else is going to do it for us… Now don’t get me wrong, some of the performances over the last twelve months have been unforgivable, we all have our own pet theories on who to blame, from Scally to Stimson via Jepson, from Lomas to Armstong, Cox to Facey, Cogan to Thurgood, even poor old Mulligan. We can all argue and point the finger, obviously the big picture rests with Scally but most fans feel equally if more let down by some of the players.
Most of what I’d call the deadwood is now gone but the mood is still acrimonious. The support is split over the merits of the Stimson revolution, some are quick to blame the ex-non-League players, some shake their heads at the dregs of the Jepson regime, others accept that we can’t afford anything better and wince at the generally poor quality of our entire squad compared with the Championship years but that won’t solve the problem of right here, right now. Bottom line we want to get promoted back up to League One as quickly as possible. That won’t happen without a significant upturn in the amount of goals scored, games won and points gathered at Priestfield. Naturally that is all in the hands of the players and management, but we the fans have a part to play too. Gills fans have been remarkably resilient, patient and forgiving over the last four years, amazingly so really, a gold medal to the whole fecking lot of you, but what I suppose I’m now asking for is more, a bit more patience, a bit more support, a little less abusive, impatient, unrealistic, demands for instant success. That simply isn’t on the cards.
However what has happened thus far away from home, away from the pressure and clamour for instant gratification is interesting. The Gills haven’t looked bad, not amazing, but not bad, passing the ball about, creating the majority of the chances, defending with passion and commitment and most significantly finishing the stronger. Cheered on by 1200 at Bournemouth and 226 at Darlington they went for it at the end and amazingly scored last minute goals in consecutive games to earn four points. Perhaps just a flash in the pan but a world away from this time last season where Royce was playing out of his skin just to keep the bloody score down. Clearly the team have a bit of character to do that and frankly in a poor quality division they should be capable of constructing a decent campaign. That won’t happen if their confidence is systematically destroyed at Priestfield by the moaners and whingers, yes you have every right to moan and groan at what you’ve witnessed at Priestfield since the turn of the year (seven League goals for fuck sake) but the new young team need a bit of encouragement right now if they are to blend into play-off chasers.
Let’s hope tomorrow against Accrington Stanley the fans can give the team a boost, with the Town End closed for whatever reason (simple stewarding costs given sub-5,000 crowds or extra policing costs due to “Gills Youth” playing silly buggers) it means that one end will be silent for the first time for a League game since it was shut by snow against Newport County back in the early 80’s. Hopefully the dispossessed Townies will add a bit of youthful exuberance to the Rainham End and we can give it portions tomorrow, but mostly that will be down to the attitude fans bring with them on Saturday afternoon when they file through the turnstiles…
The Hopeful Binman.