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Gillingham

Gillingham

Nickname The Gills
Web Site www.gillinghamfootballclub.com
E-mail editor@priestfield.com
Stadium Priestfield Stadium

New Brompton Football Club was formed in 1893 by a group who were impressed with the success of local football club, Chatham Excelsior. They immediately bought a plot of land which was to become known as the Priestfield Stadium. They have remained at Priestfield since. The following year the club turned professional and were founder members of the Southern League.

In 1913 they changed names to Gillingham and continued to play in the Southern League. The First World War halted before then the club became members of the Third Division of the Football League. Gillingham struggled and were relegated from the Division for the fifth time in 1938. They failed to be re-elected and spent the next 12 years playing non-league football until the Football League expanded.

The Gills continued to play in the bottom league until 1964 when they finished above Carlisle United to become champions of the division. They finished top on goal difference as the defence only leaked 30 goals compared to the high scoring Carlisles 58 goals conceded. They remained in the old Division Three until relegated again in 1971. In the 1973/4 season Andy Nelson managed the team to promotion once more. The Gills netted a total of 90 goals including a contribution of 31 from Brian Yeo.

The club remained in the third flight and came close to promotion on a few occasions. The closest was in 1987 when they reached the play-offs in the first year of the new system. After beating Sunderland in the semi-finals they were finally overcome in the replay final by Swindon. During their time in the third flight Gillingham fielded players such as Micky Adams, Steve Bruce and Tony Cascarino. Cascirino had famously been bought by the club for a set of tracksuits and some corrugated iron, they went on to sell him for £225,000. After the play-off disappointment of 1987 fortunes changed and they slipped back into the basement league in 1989.

In 1993 The Gills faced Halifax in a relegation decider. It was the last game of the season and the loser would slip into the Conference League. The majority thought Gillingham would cease to be if they lost as financial pressures were mounting and the club couldn't afford such a loss of revenue. However, Gillingham were 2-0 winners which condemned Halifax to the Conference.

In 1995 they finally went into administration and were threatened with eviction from the league. Paul Scally stepped in, bought the club for £1.00 and appointed Tony Pulis as manager. In his first season Pulis introduced almost a totally new team which gained promotion on its first attempt whilst only conceding 20 goals in 46 games. In 1999 the club went within a whisker of being promoted to the second tier. After finishing fourth the club was in the pay-offs and faced Manchester City in the play-off final. With two minutes to go The Gills were 2-0 up and looking like being promoted. Controversially Man City scored an equaliser 6 minutes into injury time and went on to win the penalty shoot-out. The following season The Gills went up to the second tier for the first time after beating Wigan in the play-off final. In this successful season they also went on a magnificent cup run beating Premiership teams Sheffield Wednesday and Bradford City before losing in the quarter final to Chelsea.

Gillingham were relegated back to the Second Division at the end of the 2004/5 season.

Matches
Gillingham Memorabilia
Gillingham Books


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