Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 8

January 10, 2005

Freddie Cox – ‘Gillingham’s Greatest Manager’

In the chequered history of Gillingham Football Club, there have been some dark moments, and June 1962 was one of them. While the rest of football was following England’s progress in the World Cup in Chile, Gills fans were following the progress of an FA investigation into allegations that four players had taken bribes to throw the Easter games against Wrexham. It was just one more twist of the knife. Another disastrous season had seen Gills finish 20th in the Fourth Division, arrive late for away games at Barrow and Doncaster, and have newspapers openly campaign for them to be chucked out of the league and replaced by Oxford. Only Accrington Stanley’s resignation saved us. We had no manager, Harry Barrett having finally been sacked, and there were only ten professionals left on the books.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 9

January 6, 2005

Brian Yeo – ‘Goal-poaching Legend’

What can we do to get the passion back at Priestfield? Easy – install floodlights. The first floodlight matches at Priestfield coincided with Gills being unbeaten Fourth Division leaders, and squaring up to some tough opponents – Bury, two divisions higher, were seen off 3-0 in the League Cup, then second-placed Carlisle 2-0, and three Wednesdays later sixth-placed Torquay came calling. Another 15,000-plus crowd was in, and the place was bouncing. Gills were short of strikers, and so a 19 year old kid who we had signed from Portsmouth in the close season made his debut. In the fourth minute, the kid beat the offside trap and was through. He drew the keeper and confidently slotted the ball under him, and we were on our way to a 2-0 win. When the jubilation died down a bit, my dad turned to me and said ‘He’s not bad is he – Little Yo’.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 10

January 2, 2005

Roy Proverbs – ‘Chopper’

In the days when the only fashion statement footballers made was whether or not to wear Brylcreem, every team had a player or two who was really hard, and down in the Fourth Division there were some real….err….no-nonsense defenders. Men with legs of granite, dishing out bone-crunching thigh-high tackles from every angle, elbows flailing, kicking, fouling and clogging. Ouch! These days most of them would be sent off by half-time, but in those days even bookings were rare. So, in such company, if a player was revered and respected such as to be called ‘Chopper’ he had to be quite something – and Chopper Proverbs really was quite something.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 11

December 28, 2004

Gordon Pulley – ‘Thunderboots’

When Gills opened the 1958/59 season with a 2-1 home defeat by Millwall, many people thought they’d had a further laugh in the close season by unloading on us a small, slightly overweight left-winger with tiny feet. How wrong can people be? In fact, we had gained one of the most exciting wingers we’ve ever had.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 12

December 20, 2004

Dave Peach – ‘Penalty King’

One of the few positives to come out of manager Basil Hayward’s reign was the start-up of the youth system. David Peach was one of the first recruits, and one of the finest we’ve ever had. He joined us in 1966, and an early claim to fame was that he was a ball-boy at the World Cup Final. Garrison Ground regulars used to give us rave notices about him, and it was no surprise when he made his first-team debut just before his 19th birthday, and held down the left back spot regularly until his transfer to Southampton in 1974. His trademark was an absolutely ferocious left-foot shot, probably one of the hardest and most accurate we’ve had from a Gills player.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 13

December 10, 2004

Pat Terry – ‘On me ‘ead, son!’

The sale of Ron Saunders in September 1958 was a bitter blow, but amazingly Gills invested half of the proceeds in a new centre forward, paying Swansea £4,000 for the services of Pat Terry. In the programme speak of today, Pat would be ‘a much-travelled striker’, but he certainly knew where the goal was.

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Top 25 Cult Heroes 1954-1979: Number 14

November 30, 2004

Dennis Hunt – ‘Warrior of the Rainham End’

In the late 1950’s football was changing. The ‘English style’ of play, with its up-and-at-’em, get-stuck-in attitudes might still be winning the cup and football league championships, but was looking horribly exposed in European games against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus. Stan Cullis, manager of League Champions Wolves and for so long the darling of the press, was getting uncharacteristic stick for his long-ball game.

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