Deja Vu

Saturday 4 October – Exeter City 3-0 Gills

My match reports on this site usually follow a similar pattern, particularly for away games. A few inane ramblings and dark mutterings, an inarticulate rant over the incompetence of the side and a summing up drawing on the positives to try to lighten the mood. Well, after witnessing two wins in the last 65 away games I’ve attended, quite frankly I’ve had enough. I’m not sure how I’ve contrived to miss our last six victories on our travels (going back over two years) but the lack of success is one thing – the number of utter tonkings is reaching ridiculous proportions and it’s got to stop.

So I’ll start with the positives. For me the whole weekend was salvaged by staying near Bath and having an uncomplicated Saturday night in a quite splendid pub in Bradford-upon-Avon (where the conversation never veered far from how nob-grindingly shite the standard of football is at this level, and how far Gillingham themselves have plummetted – my companion has hardly seen us play over the last couple of years and it all came as a bit of shock to the poor chap). Exeter is a perfectly nice city with a quaint ground (the authentic gents overgrown with weeds, and voracious stinging nettles lining the back of the tiny away terrace, ready in waiting to attack anyone who tries to hang a flag near them…), and awesome pasties. Take away the ear-piecingly squeaky schoolkids in the main stand (who tortured those Gills fans who chose to sit) and the intermittent rain, and you had the makings of a respectable day out.

Suffice to say the main event was utter shite. I thought Jarrett looked useful – good touch, strong holding on to the ball, willing to take the home side on – but there were few other glimmers of hope out there. The second half performance was a massive improvement on the first and had we changed round with our goal intact it would have been cause for optimism, but by then Exeter had given up chasing further goals and were content to sit back. Well, not even sit back – they did the basic “defend from the front” exceedingly well, and though we enjoyed a lot of possession our players were always under pressure from a hassling opponent which led to constant errors of distribution and meant the three goal half time lead was comfortably maintained. Jarrett (hitting the post) and Barcham both tried manfully to reduce the arrears and we could have pulled it back to 3-2 with a bit of luck, but the damage had long been done.

As for the first half – what a fucking shambles. How many more times? To say we have a degree of fragility when we fall behind is a monumental understatement, and we are learning nothing from the regular massive beatings we are taking. Exeter didn’t carve out many chances but they didn’t need to. Defensively it’s a combination of supreme disorganisation, individual errors, gormless concentration and lack of cover from a midfield who often don’t seem to take any responsibility for defensive duties.

A free header from a left wing cross opened the scoring. The second resulted from an almighty scramble in our penalty area slotted home at about the fourth attempt after a great block by King and save by Royce, but Adam Stansfield was left in so much space lurking near the penalty spot that Lisa Stansfield would have been disappointed not to score. Number three rapidly followed two after a misplaced pass by Nutter gave Stansfield a free run on goal and left Royce bemoaning his exposure once again. By this time the atmosphere was turning ugly and Stimson yet again had to endure the faces contorted with rage as he entered the tunnel, which was unfortunately for him located right by the Gills fans.

Weston was poor for the second week running. The front two battled gamely with no service and little hope. Bentley offers no pace or strength. There is absolutely no leadership on the pitch whatsoever – the only evidence that Crofts was captain came from the toss-up and when the idiot ref (who had no concept of the advantage rule and clearly thought he was deserving of far more “respect” than he earned) called him over because one of our players had spoken out of turn. As soon as we concede the heads drop and no-one’s willing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and rally everyone round. Remember under Peter Taylor when we went 2-0 down at places like Millwall and Stoke – we stayed patient and played our way back into the game by having belief in ourselves, that belief being transmitted from players like Hess, Smith and Ashby. At St James Park we just crumbled, just like we did at Shrewsbury and countless times last season. And the season before.

To date I’ve defended Stimson and pleaded for patience on his behalf. We’re ninth in the table and anyone with a brain should know that we have no divine right to be challenging for the championship. We’ve lost consecutive away games to teams promoted to the Conference, teams that were three or more divisions below us a couple of years ago, but that’s irrelevent, that’s the sort of reliance on past glories that led supporters of former European Champions Nottingham Forest to fail to comprehend why they kept losing to plucky Gillingham. Missing Mulligan, Miller and McCammon Stimson had little scope to pick another side, and little opportunity to change things round with the lack of experience or quality on the bench.

But Stimson – surely – is a fighter, and he’s got to get his side fighting for him, the club and the supporters, 400 of whom are still prepared to trek to Devon to watch his side play. I’m certainly not advocating a change of manager for many well-documented reasons, not least of which is we absolutely cannot afford to start afresh again, for the fourth time in four years. We’re 9th in the table with no need to panic, but Christ this sort of capitulation simply cannot go on. The list of clubs who think we’re a laughing stock is growing by the month.

Champagne Moment

The pasty and the triffid-esqe stinging nettles devouring the flag-wielding Binman. Both happened before kick-off.

The Morty Vicker

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5 Responses to Deja Vu

  1. nobby says:

    couldn`t agree more ,glad i wasn`t there to see it,if only a few others on the web had your view on the gills and realise we can`t change it we haven`t got any money and we`ve got to make do with what we`ve got.

    scally out

  2. Bring Back Les Berry says:

    There’s no need to panic, because the points deductions and poor opponents at home games would suggest we’re not going to get relegated; however, this is an awful Gillingham team, and with a rather dismal manager.

    I only listened on the radio yesterday (I admire the 400 who went yesterday, but I think you’re all mental!) and couldn’t believe how utterly mind-numbingly boring it sounded, let alone worrying about how shit we were.

    Whatever we think about Stimson, and I don’t think he should be sacked (mainly because we don’t need another cheap fucktard to come in and sell off shite to buy another load of shite), but surely motivation and inspiring passion is one of the pre-requistes for being a football manager?

    Anyway, I reckon we’ll finish 15th (it feels like most of the seasons between 89 and 95 – win at home and lose away), but we’re odds on for a Wembley win in the Paint Trophy.

    Come on you Gills!

  3. gtown says:

    My first ‘live’ game this season, although by looking at the performance it was difficult to judge whether any of the team were ‘live’.

    I thought Jarrett did well second half, but in the first seemed isolated and under used. Lewis looked ok when he came on, perhaps he should of started to give a stronger mid-field with Jarrett coming on second half.

    They seemed to lack ideas, no one seemed to be able to put their foot on the ball and look for the telling pass.

    Funniest moment was their player who got shot by a sniper in the first half.

    Still, at least it didnt pour down with rain, the locals were quite friendly and the pub in York streed did a fine guiness. I agree with Les B, unless there is a huge improvement it will be mid-table this year.

  4. Welshgill says:

    You know, over the last year we’ve spent over £500k on players, all of whom are still at this football club (£200k on King, £150k on Jackson and the rest on Stimson’s non league rejects).

    None of these players has left the club, players who he claimed would keep us in League One, and yet we are still incapable of putting together a performance (just one single performance) that suggests we are going to compete for promotion this year.

    That kind of expenditure should put us in the top half of League One yet here we are conceding 3 goals before halftime against Exeter and looking like the team that got relegated last year (away from home at least).

    Stimson has had money to bring his own players in (I know King was signed by Jepson but Stimson’s happy to play him), he’s had money to pay off those he didn’t want, he didn’t lose any players over the summer and had a whole preseason to get them to play he wants to play.

    Yet here we are watching one dimensional football, with no lack of effort or fitness I’ll grant you, which is sufficient when playing teams with no ambition at Priestfield but comes up woefully short away from home.

    As indicated above, how much more shite fotball do I have to put with (yes I did go Saturday, yes I have been watching us being shite for the last 5-6 years) before we turn this around?

    Does anyone seriously think Stimson can turn this around or if he stays are we dooming ourselves to another 1-2 years of steady decline like we were under Jepson…..?

  5. Jon says:

    For what it’s worth, I seriously think he can turn it around.

    And he’s already made one hell of a positive step by changing the captain.

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