Tuktuk Day 53

Gillingham FC


60 Years’ Anniversary

Anybody who has stood within 100 yards of me since 1964 (yes 60 years ago!) will know that I have been a Gillingham fan all my life. My first ever game was a 1-1 draw against Doncaster Rovers in Division 4 (now League 2) on 22 February 1964 … a season when we won the league for the first time ever. We were unbeaten at home and only conceded 10 goals all season at the Theatre of Farce that is Priestfield Stadium. Away we were equally tight with only 20 against. We actually only won it because we beat second place Carlisle United at home. Not that I was such a statto then but our goal average was 1.967 and theirs was 1.948. We finished equal on 60 points and even though we had scored 59 to their 113 (!) our minusculely better average gave us the title.

Sixty years later we are approximately 8 places worse off and sitting outside the playoff places after yet another 0-0 versus Stockport County on Tuesday. In between more pain than gain with the infamous Wembley play-off defeat against Manchester City and then the six glory years in the Championship. In all that time we have never ever once played Manchester United!

So, as a lifetime fan, you can imagine how excited I was to hear from fellow Gillingham fan James Norley with his Gillingham Legends business recently. He was kind enough to tell me more ……

GILLINGHAM LEGENDS – FOOTBALL IS A WORK OF ART

What started out as a hobby, has now turned into one of the most sought after gifts for Gillingham football club fans throughout the world – artwork of GFC’s legendary players throughout its time! Created by Football Digital Illustrator Jim Norley, who first started to drawing distinctive digital illustrations of former Gillingham players a few years back, has now launched his debut book ‘Gillingham Legends’ which consists of 175 players and staff to date. 

“I’ve been a Gills fan since the age of 8”, says Jim “I’ve experienced both the darkest and most triumphant days in the club’s history. When I first started the posting the pictures, it became an outlet for fans to reminisce about the old days and share their personal stories and memories. It then soon progressed into the ‘legends’ themselves interacting with me and providing their own personal stories and memories too – which then in turn encouraged me to publish the book. Who knew little old  Gillingham would have such an array of great players over the years!”

The A5 hardback ‘Gillingham Legends’ book containing original digital illustrations of 175 of Gills greatest ever players and staff costs £15. And as well as the book, an Andy Hessenthaler gold plated, soft enamel pin badge which comes with an A7 artwork card is now available and costs £5.

All the above products and more are available from his website  

You can also follow the Gillingham Legends social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter

Much has happened in the last 60 years; our beloved Priestfield Stadium has legendary status because of the “Ginger Rogers Stand” also known as the Town End and The Brian Moore Stand, we now have a Podcast, video streaming of every game and a whole host of social media involvement that (a) never existed 60 years ago and (b) as a seven year old kid, I could never have dreamed of anyway!

Singing in the Rain – The Ginger Rogers stand. Temporary since 2002!

So, yes, a sixty year love affair. My heart was broken by Manchester City at Wembley in 1999, hope returned against Wigan in 2000 and then we had the glory years in the second level/Championship including memorable wins against Leeds United, Crystal Palace, Wolves and West Ham among others! Since 2005 there has been little to get too excited about apart from another memorable Wembley against Shrewsbury Town to get us back to the third level/league one. The chairman Paul Scally eventually “left” and a ray of hope arrived with American buyers Brad and Shannon Gallinson. We have a new manager, Steve Clemence the son of Ray Clemence who I met on the cycle tour back in 2010. The manager made over 200 Premier League appearances but this is his first permanent management position.

Clemence was a WINNER with England and Liverpool. Let’s hope his son is at Gillingham – here’s to the next 60 years!

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