Saturday 6th December 2008 CCL2. Gills 2 Chesterfield 1.
Gills fans just love to get into a proper foaming at the mouth strop. Nothing gets them going faster than a piqued sense of injustice and the antics of the visitors contrived to turn a run of the mill fixture into a bad tempered affair with the Rainham End bellowing their rage at opponents whose sole aim appeared to be running through the entire gamut of gamesmanship options available to the modern day player…
The day began well when some of the old school Gills myself included met up with the Spireites we’ve known for twenty years (fucking hell – twenty years!). Once the pleasantries had been got out of the way “Do you remember ten-nil?” “Yes you bastards! Do you remember all our lucky 1-0 wins that followed? Ha ha ha!” we got down to some serious drinking and reminiscing… Were the “good old days” really better? Nah, not really, just cheaper and more drunken and we were younger, the football was invariably quite shit between the two teams but we didn’t let that get in the way of having a grand day out did we?
Back to the chilly reality of 2008 and both sides were floating around in mid-table with half an eye on the play-off spots but lacking in consistency. Our problem being away from home whilst curiously theirs being at Saltergate. The game kicked off in typical lower division fashion, a bit of niggle, some robust tackles, but it soon became apparent that two things were happening, we were on top and they, well they didn’t like it and responded with a full range of moaning, bitching at the officials, play-acting, time wasting and if all that failed, kicking six lumps of shit out of us!
The deadlock was broken on eighteen minutes, Barcham the creator after some fine wing play, he cut inside and coolly laid the ball back for Miller to slam home – One-Nil to the footballing purists! This if anything upped the ante for the visitors as their campaign of malicious aggravation gained momentum, if there was a foot to be left in on any 50/50 ball they’d leave it in, if there was some ridiculous rolling about to do after a simple tackle down and over they went, if there was an obvious foul given by the poor old referee they’d surround him mob handed and harangue him…
Jackson scored the second crucial goal just before the break, our dominance had deserved nothing less, but it was still a sublime piece of finishing amid the bad-tempered shenanigans. A simple straight long ball was nodded on by Miller, Jackson latched onto the ball, held off a defender and deftly lobbed it over the keeper from the edge of the box. A simple home win beckoned but the second half ended up being highly “competitive” and not lacking in controversy.
There were three defining moments in the half. The first saw the visitors pull a goal back on 60 minutes due to a rush of blood to the head from Royce he went haring after a ball he was never going to make close to the corner flag, Currie got there first and with Royce floundering, stranded in no mans land, coolly steered it back into the six yard box for Lester to calmly slot it home. Suddenly it was game on again the Gills had been cruising but for whatever reason, nerves, losing control in midfield, sitting too deep, they were suddenly under pressure. The crowd were getting restless and agitated but then Chesterfield came to our rescue, Ward went down theatrically clutching his head, we had the ball and kicked it out, as if by magic Ward was fine, leapt to his feet ready to go and the visitors rather shamefully refused to return the ball to us in the time honoured fashion but sneakily threw it to themselves and nearly scored. Well as you can imagine this somewhat transformed to atmosphere from one of jittery irritation with some of our own players into a fucking rabid bear pit of hatred. “Cheat, cheat, cheat!” – the home fans were roused into an angry gurning mob of seething righteous indignation. Splendid, from that moment on there was to be but one winner. The Gills players were reenergized and with tackles flying and the referee struggling to maintain even a semblance of control we battled hard enough to secure victory.
However a big part of that came in the shape of a diving Simon Royce who made up for his little “walkabout” with arguably the save of the season so far, reminiscent of Big Fat Jim’s back in 1996 at Mansfield. Again, low, hard, through a ruck of players and yet he dived full length to tip Lester’s rocket shot round the post to safety. Magnificent!
The Gills saw the game out amid near-anarchy with the home crowd on turbo-charged swearing duties – a third goal would have brought the house down but we were happy enough to take the three points. The Spireites in the pub post-match weren’t quite so chuffed, they were magnanimous in defeat, complimentary about Jackson’s finish and Royce’s save but you could see it in their eyes that after such a rumbustious afternoon defeat really hurt…
Champagne Moment:- Aside from one of the Chesterfield fans “recreating” some of the second half drama flinging himself to the floor of the Southern Belle public house and writhing about on the floor in mock agony in between sips of his pint it must be what happened to Chesterfield next in their FA Cup tie with Droylesden… with them losing the first game got fogged off, the second attempt immediately after the “battle of Priestfield” then saw Chesterfield score “by accident” from a throw intended to give possession to the opposition after an injury. The mentalist spud-faced Droylesden manager tried to deck Chesterfield manager Richardson who then wisely instructed his players to “allow” the non-leaguers to “score” at the other end unhindered (2-2). Richardson then had the brass neck to claim they’d “never” tried to take advantage of a throw in such circumstances before. It was therefore giggles all round in Kent when with Chesterfield winning 2-0 at Droylesden the lights accidentally “went out”… part four saw Chesterfield then mugged 2-1 and Karma give then a deserved kick in the goolies but the non-leaguers then rather over-egged the righteous indignation themselves and were then found to have played an ineligible player and they were booted out… a nice dose of schadenfeude all round.
The Cheery Binman.