Ground No. 48
Visited - Saturday 30th October 2004
Result - Gillingham 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - Coca Cola Championship
Attendance - 9112

I'd been looking forward to this game for a while, Priestfield has always been a good ground for us, so we were all hoping that that record would continue and that we could come away with all three points, although as it was this game would end up being memorable for all the wrong reasons, as the final straw for Dave Jones, with him being sacked 2 days later.

As usual, I took the train down, and the journey went fairly well, only having to change once when crossing London from Euston to Victoria station, arriving into Gillingham at just gone 12:30pm. On most away trips I like to have a walk around the town, to get a feel for the place, so after leaving the station, I walked into the centre of Gillingham, having a look around. That took up some time before the game, all of about 5 minutes! Apparently in the week before this trip, Gillingham had been voted the worst town and ground in the country to visit, and I could certainly understand why the town centre had come in for criticism, being quite surprised at how small it was.

So with more time than I'd expected on my hands, I decided to walk down to the ground and get some pictures, before the crowds started to build up. Walking all of the way around the ground, it seemed quite a nice place from the outside, tucked away between the terraced houses, it all seemed very modern, and from the outside undeserving of its dubious award. The one criticism I would perhaps have is the rear of the Gordon Road Stand, which you really could mistake for being the side of a warehouse! Also when seeing the away end, it was reassuring to hear that good weather was predicted, given that the Brian Moore stand is temporary and uncovered!

Whilst going around, I had a chat to some stewards, who seemed quite friendly and recommended the Livingstone Arms for a place to have a drink in before the game, so taking them up on that, off I went for a quick pint, before coming back, and going in at about 2pm. Whilst taking pictures of the ground empty, other than the away end, I really was struggling to wonder why the ground had been voted as the worst in the country when, as outside, it’s a neat and tidy little place, that’s obviously seen a lot of investment. OK, it's no Old Trafford or Anfield, but for a club the size of Gillingham you couldn’t really ask for much better. To our left was the Medway Stand, a good sized two-tiered stand, that looked very smart with executive boxes running across the middle. Opposite that was the Gordon Road Stand, which was quite a bit smaller, but still nicely looked after, and was quite characteristic with several supporting pillars running the length of the pitch, and what looked like a TV Gantry built into the middle of the stands roof. At the opposite end of the pitch is the Rainham End, again smaller than the Medway Stand, but a fair size, being bigger than the Gordon Rd Stand, and fitting in well with its surroundings, looking smart and modern. It would have been nice if the Rainham End was mirrored at the opposite end, but instead the Brian Moore Stand, a temporary structure takes it's place. Despite being temporary, as others have remarked, it definitely has the feel of being almost like a permanent stand, being of better quality than the temporary stands at Brighton and Molineux. The facilities behind it weren’t too bad, although could certainly have been better, with the toilets being a bit on the small side and having no running water!

After chatting to a couple of friends, I found my seat in the packed Wolves end, and settled down to watch the game, getting some more pictures of the ground full. It started off with Gillingham looking the hungriest, with the Wolves team still half asleep by the looks of it. However in the 12th minute it looked like we were going to score, when Kevin Cooper broke through one on one with the home keeper, only to be dragged down on the edge of the area by Ian Cox. The referee, Trevor Kettle, immediately blew for a foul, and sent off the Gillingham defender without hesitation. This was the break we were looking for, and despite missing the subsequent free-kick it looked like we had been given the advantage with Gillingham missing several first teamers, and having lost the last 7 games, now having to play most of the match with 10 men. Of course nothing is simple watching Wolves, and 6 minutes later the home side took the lead after a defensive mix-up. With this, Gillingham were rejuvenated, and didn’t need the extra man, as we looked totally disinterested, with half of the players not putting in any effort whatsoever.

The second half was little different. Dave Jones had taken off right-back Keith Lowe, for striker Dean Sturridge, although that left most of the crowd puzzled as to what formation we were playing. As it was, it didn’t seem like we were playing with any kind of pre-planned strategy and you would have thought that we were the team with 10 men, as Gillingham kept up their attack all game. Despite the pressure, and the vociferous support from the home fans, the Kent side couldn’t get another goal, and it finished 1-0, which led to some pretty ugly scenes at the end of the game, especially with Dave Jones and his players having to pass the away fans to go into the dugout which was in the corner between the Brian Moore and Medway Stands. Most of our team were booed off by the crowd, which had to be kept at bay by a line of police protecting the players going back to the dressing room.

After leaving the ground, I walked back to the station and didn’t have long to wait for the train back to London. The train from there back to the Midlands was a little longer in coming, with there having been an accident that had effected a lot of services, but I got back eventually, after a long, but fruitless trip.

Overall, despite being a nice ground to visit, and one that I’ll probably look forward to going back to, the match was without the doubt the worse I, and most other fans, have seen Wolves in a long, long time, for some ever. We may have lost by 4 or 5 on a couple of occasions last season, but at least the team always looked like they cared. Today some of the supposed big name players like Seol, Olofinjana, Cort and Kennedy just couldn’t be bothered, which was worse. It's one thing to play crap and lose, but to genuinely not care for the club, and to show no interest whatsoever is unforgivable. There's no words I have seen written since on many message boards that tell just how bad the team were, you really had to be there to see the lack of commitment. As it was, it was to be Dave Jones last game in charge, which although we quite clearly need a change, wont go to fully sorting out the problems at the club, which lie much deeper than the manager.

Rear of the Medway Stand

The Club Shop and Ticket Office

Main Entrance at the rear of the Rainham End

Rear of the Gordon Road Stand

Rear of the Brian Moore Stand

The Gordon Road Stand

The Rainham End

The Medway Stand

The Medway Stand

The Rainham End

The Gordon Road Stand


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