Sat 22 Nov – Bury 4 – 0 Gills
Well I’ve got to say I half expected us to lose at Bury in the League, having won there rather fortuitously in the FA Cup two weeks earlier for the first time (Gigg Lane) since 1985 – lightning doesn’t often strike twice but even I, the arch pessimist didn’t expect a 4-0 drubbing by a Bury side that had lost it’s last five home game and hadn’t won at home in the League since early September… still it pays never to expect anything other than disaster watching the Gills away from home.
We went into the game on the back of some decent results, level on points with a host of play-off rivals and poised to make a serious and concerted challenge for the automatic spots. Well that will teach us stupid muppets won’t it! I mean how dare we put any faith in players that are clearly so brittle away from home. After two steps forward one step back all season we’d finally made it about five steps forward only to fall flat on our faces. It was to be a deeply depressing day as well as a very long and expensive one. Some times I wonder whether the players ever give a thought to the fans in the away end, the West Coast Mainline was royally uber-fucked all weekend, hopefully come 2009 we’ll all be gallivanting up and down the line to Lancashire in less than a week but for this game it was to be mission improbable meaning a twenty hour round trip beginning with the 05.40 train from Canterbury taking the strain.
Thanks to the gallant planning and enthusiasm of some of the regular train travellers twelve of us stood somewhat dazed and confused at Marylebone for the long dull drag up to Birmingham via High Wycombe at 08.20 on Saturday morning. With a sprinkling of Manchester City exiles and Gooners taking the same convoluted route we settled down for the slog on packed shite trains that stopped at every hamlet and golf course along the way. Then a quick trot across Birmingham from Moor Street to New Street and we were on our way again, cross country to Manchester before jumping into a mini-bus for the trundle out to Bury. Aside from a desperate Wolfie having to go for a Mc-piss enroute everything went like clockwork, a couple of pre-match pints in the Staff of Life and we were back in the away end ready to witness the Gills replicate their gutsy win…
Okay, stop laughing there, I know, I know, we lost 4-0 and were lucky to get nil. Bury probably had the same amount of attacks as the FA Cup game but this time they had their shooting boots on and our defending was criminally incompetent. Our problems probably started at the other end though with no threat whatsoever up front with Barcham still concussed, Jackson jet-lagged after international bench-warming duty for Canada and the poor benighted Mulligan so anonymous up front again that I’d forgotten he was playing… again!
Nine minute in and we all knew it was going to be that sort of day, a long diagonal ball into the box should have been dealt with routinely, but the Gills defence dithered fatefully, King the biggest culprit at the far post, he should have belted the ball into next week but didn’t and Bishop nipped in on the blind side to slot the ball home. The reaction of the meagre home support in the 2,000 crowd was muted, worthy of a pleasant shot for four in the County Championship than a goal but it left the team reeling and to be honest we never really recovered.
We plodded along to no real affect whilst Bury, albeit sporadically, looked dangerous each time they attacked, partly because their passing was crisper, more incisive and generally led somewhere and partly because our defence was having a terrible collective attack of the jitters. The second killer goal came five minutes before the break, it was a splendid in-swinging corner but for fucks sake Hurst (main danger man) was standing at the near post virtually unmarked. He nodded the ball in with the minimum of fuss leaving the 208 people in the away end fuming at such serial incompetence.
The second half was little better, we looked pedestrian and unimaginative going forward and shambolic at the back. It was simply a matter of time before the Shakers put us out of our misery. Jarrett was the pick of a pretty cruddy bunch, some of his crosses just begged to be converted but such a task was beyond Mulligan. With the Gills support begging Stimson to bring on Jackson (a non-stop five minute chorus might have swung it) Bury scored a third just before the hour, a well worked move that sliced the Gills apart, Hurst finding time and space down the flank to square for the unmarked Bishop to prod home from close range. It was no more than we (rather than Bury) deserved. Four minutes later and many of the Gills fans were glumly heading for the exits and an early pint in the warmth of the pub. More calamitous defending and more arm waving from us, oh and another goal for the Shakers… Hesitant defending initially allowed Bury time and space to cross, there were two Bury players and two Gills defenders in the box and yet one was unmarked six yards out so Hurst didn’t have the hardest task to nod home Bury’s fourth goal.
The final twenty five minutes were meaningless but still we contrived one final humiliation, with McCammon on he was put though on goal by Jackson and stumbled over keeper Brown, the referee gave a penalty and yet even as last man the keeper only received a yellow, perhaps the referee Boyeson took into consideration the likelihood of McCammon’s passing the loose ball into an empty net from ten yards a decided it wasn’t a goal scoring opportunity. Clearly it wasn’t from twelve as Miller missed out first spot-kick of the season, his tame effort easily pawed away by Brown. The locals giggled, we resorted to hollow chants about playing Stockport in the FA Cup when we all know we’d all have preferred to win the League game unless we beat County and get Manchester United in the third round…
We sloped out of Gigg Lane feeling rather punch drunk for the umpteenth time this season, the mini-bus back to Piccadilly was subdued as was the initial train journey back to New Street but the second leg back to Marylebone was enlivened by the drunken presence of three women enroute to London for a party. They were a bit of a shambles running five hours late and armed with a seemingly unlimited bag of bottles of spirits which they proceeded to offer to all and sundry (double shot of brandy anyone?) in a concerted effort to get everyone completely shitfaced. It worked too well, one of our number, only twenty years old, thought his luck was in despite them claiming to be “lesbians“, he ended up in a spirit drinking competition with Wolfie which he duly lost only to then pass out before spraying chunks over all and sundry. It took our minds of the result and passed the time in a chaotic, “oh my god they’re bonkers” sort of way until we got back to London and had to carry the poor lad in the general direction of home. I walked in my front door twenty hours after I’d left having watched my team put on a gutless and rather muddled showing. Perhaps we should have all kept our £100 and drunk ourselves into oblivion back home. We’d have been warmer and less distance to puke but the Gills just keep you coming back for more… just not in a good way.
Champagne Moment:- The train journey back from Moor Street to Marylebone, it was exceedingly messy but also anarchic fun aside from the copious amounts of vomit.
The Not Amused Binman.