Sunday, 25 October 2009
Gills 'Cup Final' Ends in Stalemate
The train from Charlton only takes around an hour, passing through some areas that would never be included in tourist brochures promoting the 'Garden of Kent'.
The train driver had very thoughtfully stopped to pick up Sledge at Greenhithe station. It was he who commented that visiting Gillingham felt like visiting a 'Northern town'.
The promised torrential rain never really materialised. In my opinion, it would have been rather uncomfortable to spend an hour standing in the drizzle, nursing pint glasses before heading to the ground.
Many people chose the drizzle option but we found a bar with large leather sofas and a wide screen TV showing the midlands (proper) derby between Villa and Wolves.
The owners of the bar obviously rate cleanliness next to godliness as the drinking area and especially the toilets absolutely reeked of bleach. It was like visiting your local swimming baths, only without the crusty sock on the floor in the corner.
Priestfield is like an upmarket Welling. The open air terrace / golf style seating for the away supporters was 'functional' but hardly worth the £23. The last time I felt quite so fleeced for appalling facilities was at Selhurst Park.
Simon Jordan = Paul Scally?
The home supporters were really up for this game. It was their 'Cup Final' and the Priestfield was full. Despite the Charlton chants of "No noise from the Pikey boys", Gillingham were really getting behind their team.
Perhaps it was the excellent choice of pre match music played over the tannoy that hyped them up.
Most of what the Addick fans shouted was lost in the strong wind anyway.
Early on, it would appear that Izale McLeod was denied a cast iron, nailed on (etc etc) penalty. In all honesty, it was far too far away for me to comment. At the time, I just assumed it was another case of McLeod having a lie down when he got into the penalty area. Independent reports, even those biased towards the Gills, would indicate a penalty should have been awarded.
The referee, Jon Moss, (who will always be the drummer for Culture Club to eighties kids like me), wasn't really up to the task. It was yet another case of third division refereeing to go with the third division football.
Moss needed to get a grip on the game early on.
His big moment came when he removed a beachball from the pitch with a rather theatrical flourish.
With the Gills anxious to show who was boss, some very meaty challenges were made. Some would have been given instant yellow cards on another day but Moss just waved play on.
The Charlton players got stuck in too and there were some uncontrolled tackles from both teams.
What looked like Racon made a poor challenge which went unpunished so the Gills decided to take it out on Nicky Bailey a few seconds later.
Bailey received an appalling tackle that could have removed him from any more involvement in the afternoon's encounter. Deon Burton was duly booked for pointing out the ref's ineptitude.
Local boy Rob Elliot made a fine save but the first half was dull, dull, dull.
The bad ref, bad pitch and swirling wind in damp, skiddy conditions meant neither team could play a passing game.
The highlight of the first half, or at least a rare glimmer of excitement, was when some yellow bibbed bullies over reacted to some Charlton youngsters in the home area and caused an almighty ruck when there was no need to do anything.
I sent an email to Dr Kish reporting what I saw, reproduced here. (Though I promise I did include some punctuation when I sent it!)
The second half was much like the first. I found my mind wandering and I really wasn't fully engaged.
I began to contemplate what job the spotty, large chinned youth was doing inside the building directly to our left. He really wasn't doing much. He spent most of the afternoon leaning on the window, watching the game.
With only around 10 minutes to go, the game came alive. Mooney replaced McLeod and began running at everything.
I'm still not sure how it happened but the Gills player Nutter, somehow managed to slice the ball, unchallenged, into his own net. It was directly in front of the away support leading to equal amounts of cheering and laughing.
If Danny Baker was to do another compilation of his 'howlers', Nutter would be one of his unlucky highlights.
The chinny, spotty youth was aghast.
His face contorted, he gave the Charlton support, (who were only around 6 feet away) the finger and then pulled down the blinds on the window in disgust.
Despite everything I saw on Harry Hill's show last night, the spotty youth remains the funniest part of my Saturday.
We began to believe three points were ours for the taking.
A Charlton team who really hadn't got to grips with the conditions or received a fair rub of the green from the officials were ahead due to a massive 'slice' of good fortune.
It wasn't to last of course.
Rob Elliot had already managed a miracle save from Nutter but he could do nothing about the effort from Gills hotshot Jackson.
Without the benefit of a replay, I can't be sure, but it seemed as if he performed a very skillful flick to make space to shoot.
The Priestfield went wild with lots of waving / pointing directed towards a section high up in the main stand where the boxes are. I imagine some posh seat Addicks had given it large after our goal and were now paying the price!
A win would have been nice but a draw was a fair result. On the evidence of yesterday, we still have a problem closing out games.
Gillingham are not a great side. Unfortunately, we plummeted to their levels yesterday. It could have been down to conditions but our midfield never commanded the game. Our 'key' players should have ran rings around the Gills but yesterday our players didn't look comfortable.
One good thing about aiming for promotion is that hopefully we won't have to come back to god awful places like Priestfield again for a while.
Gillingham can then return to being the refuge of Addicks who didn't quite make the grade.
The walk back to the station was speedy, even including the fact you have to slalom around the piles of dog poo.
We returned to London on a 'Football Special'.
I thought they died out in the 80's?
I'm really struggling to award the Lacoste polo shirt this week. After some quiet moments, I've decided to award it jointly to Kelly Youga and Rob Elliot as they were the only Charlton players who had a remotely good game.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt goes to the bullies who picked on some kids who unfortunately chose to support the 'wrong' team.
If the bright yellow clad hoolies had behaved in the same way while the kids were sitting waiting for a bus, it would have rightly been labelled an assault.
Gillingham should be ashamed of themselves.
I guess it's only to be expected from a club with Millwall fan Scally at the top.