A few members had found they were pre-booked for this date, having initially believed they were free, a full diary an example of how little they allow themselves to be limited by their sight. For Chris, for example, who was partially sighted from birth, this would have been his first match ever. But Alison, by some way our youngest member, was able to take her young son, Adam, to a match for the first time. We had front row seats and Alison’s guide dog, Ed, was able to spread out for a sleep during the proceedings, he took the whole thing very calmly.


The match itself? Well, the match was the first league outing for a new pitch, relaid at a cost of £450,000, and it was beautiful, looked like you could have bowled on it. And the Gills treated us to fine attacking display at the far end during the first half, with lots of corners, but no goals. That was ok, a repeat show in the second half in front of us would be bound to result in a goal or two – but first the Southend number ten showed a cool head to find some space for a crisp left foot shot (which also might have taken a deflection), then two minutes later the same player scored again after some neat interpassing. That was all within eight minutes of the restart – and at the other end of the pitch. Thereafter the Southend players, who had been handing out plenty of nudges and shoves, showed themselves to be delicate little flowers who fell over at the merest puff of wind, poleaxed, and appeared to be badly injured as a result. Although the only player substituted for injury was a Gillingham defender. It was frustrating, time wasting is a frequently employed tactic but it takes the momentum out of a game. The Southend goalkeeper took forever to place the ball and eventually kick it, but somehow the referee thought an occasional word would sort it – it didn’t.

So the game itself was not the best we could have hoped for, and certainly we would have liked to bring the Gills a bit of luck, but we can’t fault the Gills staff for anything. From set up (thank you, Ben, in particular) to match day, when it was smiles and help all the way, we enjoyed the very best of service. Thank you Medway Council and everyone at the Gills.


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