The S24 Preview: Gillingham v Southend United

05 April 2010 08:28
The mother of all relegation 'six-pointers' and the latest 'must win' game for the Shrimpers until the next one. Now your all cheered up, here's the preview of the Easter Monday match; kick-off 15.00. v SHRIMPERS OPPOSITION Last Time Out - Oldham Athletic 1 Gillingham 0 In the self-deprecating gallows humour that is mustered by the followers of teams scratching an existence at the wrong end of the Football League, Oldham Athletic's supporters massed in their tens at the Rochdale Road end taunted their Gillingham counterparts with a chorus of "We're Sh*t But We're Beating You", and it ably summed up the quality of both sides. We all have "one of those days" and yesterday was one of those days. With Manchester United and Chelsea doing battle at the wealthy end of football's food chain we had earmarked a pub with the requisite satellite television and food in which to watch the game and set out earlier than usual to arrive in time for the 12.45 kick off. Worries that Easter might cause traffic problems were unfounded and we reached the Old Grey Mare with time to spare, but as kick off approached the staff were still wrestling with the vagaries of an Italian feed from Old Trafford and we had also been told that no food would be available as it was a match day. Heaving pub, surely a missed opportunity?Chelsea proved themselves the real deal and we departed in search of the local chippy rather disconsolate given our United leanings and our mood was not lifted by the closed sign on the door.At least Ice Station Zebra was not living up to its label with the weather reasonably mild as we took our seats among the 250 or so Gillingham fans to the left of the Oldham support in the Rochdale Road stand. Simeon Jackson was not to be risked and Chris Dickson made a start for the visitors.The first half had such quality that had you stumbled across a Medway Sunday League game this morning whilst walking the dog you would have seen something that bore comparison. Chances were few and far between and neither goalkeeper was seriously tested. Dickson was no Messiah and Rene Howe was far more effective in his general play. Oldham left the field at half time to a chorus of boos, the Gillingham fans hardened by their season's travelling woes took the half in its merit, at least we wasn't losing.The second half began with a chance for Dickson. The striker was set free following a long Danny Jackman pass wildly lashed the ball high into the visiting supporters in what proved to be his last act as he was hooked almost immediately. It had been a very indifferent hour for the man on which so many hopes had been pinned.On the hour, in the one moment of quality, Lewis Guy fastened onto a pass from Dale Stephens after Gillingham had allowed the ball to go loose in midfield. The striker, on loan from Doncaster, steered the ball wide of Alan Julian to give the home side the advantage.After a dodgy spell when Pavel Abbott had a couple of half chances, Gillingham at least mounted a desperate bid to retrieve a point. Adam Miller, one of the few Gillingham players that could leave Boundary Park with his head held high, brought a decent save from ex-loanee Dean Brill but the majority of the attacks foundered on the rock of our old adversary, Sean Gregan. The Easter traffic proved as helpful on the return journey and we quickly sped our way towards an evening with a live band at the local pub. The group were good, but there seemed more people intent on chatting with their mates than listening to the music. I guess they were having a good time in their own way, but then a good time had already passed me by on this particular Easter Saturday.(Report by baldangel on Stadium has been virtually re-built since the current Chairman Paul Scally took over in 1995. In a corporate sponsorship deal with the Kent Reliance Building Society, the stadium has been renamed the KRBS Priestfield Stadium.On one side of the ground is the impressive two tiered, Medway Stand, opened in 2000, with a row of executive boxes (the type which you can sit outside of) running across the middle. Opposite is the tidy all seater Gordon Road Stand. Unfortunately though, it contains a number of supporting pillars, which may hinder your view. This also has an unusual TV gantry perched on its roof. The Rainham End, has also been re-developed, with a single tier cantilevered stand, which replaced a former terrace. It is an open all seated 'temporary stand' has been erected on what was the former Gillingham End terrace, it is hoped that this will be replaced with a permanent 3,200 seated stand at some point. This stand has been named the Brian Moore Stand in memory of the legendary commentator and lifelong Gills fan.Away fans are housed in part of the Brian Moore Stand where around 1,500 supporters can be accommodated. The stand is of the temporary variety i.e. the type that you would see around the 18th hole at the British Open Golf Championship, although it is of a good size and height, plus the views of the playing action are fine. Unlike most temporary stands though the facilities are surprisingly good, being of a permanent nature behind the stand. However it is uncovered, so although the Club hand out free rain macs if it rains, still be prepared to get wet! One unusual aspect of visiting Priestfield Stadium is that away supporters have to walk down a very narrow terraced street to reach the away entrance, or if coming from adjacent streets down very tight alley ways. However, there is never normally any problems with this although after the game the Police sometimes close of some of the surrounding streets to keep fans apart.(Thanks to for the above)WEATHERREFThe man in the middle is FIXTURESEaster Monday, April 5th; (all kick-offs 15.00 unless stated): Brentford v Exeter, Bristol Rovers v MK Dons, Charlton v Carlisle, Colchester v Millwall, 13:00, Gillingham v Southend, Hartlepool v Brighton, Norwich v Stockport, Southampton v Leyton Orient, Swindon v Tranmere, Walsall v Wycombe, Yeovil v Leeds, 12:30. Tuesday, April 6th: Huddersfield v Oldham, 19:45 Saturday, April 10th: (all kick-offs 15.00); Brentford v Huddersfield, Brighton v Carlisle, Colchester v Swindon, Exeter v Leyton Orient, Leeds v Southend, Millwall v Gillingham, Norwich v MK Dons, Oldham v Bristol Rovers, Southampton v Charlton, Stockport v Yeovil, Walsall v Tranmere, Wycombe v Hartlepool.BETGillingham (to win) - 11/10, Draw - 5/2, Southend (to win) - 3. For all the footy odds go here: Train go here: Coach go here: By Car go here: PUB AND PIESFor the best drinking hostelries around, and this is Gillingham we're talking about, go here: HISTORYGillingham are the only Kent-based club in the Football League and play their home matches at the KRBS Priestfield Stadium. The club was founded in 1893 and joined the Football League in 1920. They were voted out of the league in favour of Ipswich Town at the end of the 1937-38 season, but returned to it 12 years later after it was expanded from 88 to 92 clubs. Twice in the late 1980s they came close to winning promotion to the second tier of English football, but a decline then set in and in 1993 they narrowly avoided relegation to the Football Conference. Between 2000 and 2005, Gillingham were in the second tier of the English football league system for the only time in their history, achieving a club record highest league finish of eleventh place in 2002-03. In the 2008-09 season, the club was promoted to Football League One after victory over Shrewsbury Town in the League Two play-off final.For a more comprehensive history of the club, go here: