1. A Two Goal Lead Is Never Enough
It's May 1999. Bob Taylor has just put Gillingham 2-0 up in the 87th minute of Division 2 play-off. The goal kills the game off and condemns Manchester City to another season in the third tier of English football. All is good in the world.
Except it doesn't and it isn't. Somehow Gillingham manage the greatest collapse since Devon Loch and City scramble two stoppage time goals. We go on to lose in the most inevitable penalty shoot-out ever witnessed. It's the wound that never truly heals. At this point I should provide a link to the highlights but in 15 years I've never been able to bring myself to watch them and I'm not about to start now. Instead here's our winning goal from when we won the play-off final the year after. I can watch that without feeling sick.
2. You Consider Second Teams To Be Cheating I spend a lot of time, money and effort to sit despondently watching Gillingham surrender tamely to another 2-0 home defeat and I expect the people around me to do the same. I do not expect them to cheer up suddenly because they just checked their phone and seen that Liverpool have gone one up.
Second teams are the scourge of the small club.
They're the safety net for the casual supporter, a get out of jail free card for when you don't want to face the crushing reality of the team you're watching (full disclosure; I did have another team when I was in school. But then I also watched Aussie soaps and thought alcopops were a good idea. At some point you have to grow up).
3. You Know Andy Hessenthaler To Be The Greatest Player Never To Play For England
Andy Hessenthaler rugby tackled Andy Reid to the ground during a relegation 6 pointer with Nottingham Forest that Gills held on to win 2-1.
Andy Hessenthaler chased a streaker off the pitch at MK Dons then berated the stewards for not doing their jobs properly. Andy Hessenthaler was sent to the stands as player-manager and then promptly brought himself on as a sub purely to spite the referee (he subsequently became the first player to be booked having already been sent off). Andy Hessenthaler, owner of the most curiously squat face in Britain, is a football genius.
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Even his two stints as manager that could most generously described as ‘ultimately underwhelming’ have done nothing to diminish the pocket rocket's status. England would have won the World Cup with Hess in the side. That's a fact and I'd rather die than deny it.
4. You Treat All South London Teams As Rivals
Apart from a glorious three year period from 1989-92 when Maidstone United played in the Football League, Gillingham have never had a true local derby. Instead we stagger around like a horny teenager at kicking out time, desperately looking for someone to pair off with. Fulham, Palace, Charlton and Millwall have all been the objects of our affections but none have shown more than a passing interest before moving on to bigger, more exciting options. This season there isn't even a decent London side for us to try it on with (back off Orient, we're not interested). There is however...
5. Swindon. You Hate Swindon
We really do hate Swindon. We just don't know why anymore. Apparently there was some sort of disagreement in the seventies but my understanding of seventies football is that it was just a succession of rumbling, on going dust-ups so I've no idea why this particular resentment lingers. Most Swindon fans claim this is an entirely one-way feeling and that they remain as apathetic towards us as the rest of the country but I'm pretty sure this is just an elaborate and well-planned ruse designed to anger us even further. It works.
6. You Pretend The Last Waltz Is A Great Song
Liverpool have You'll Never Walk Alone. Man City have Blue Moon. Arsenal have...well, nothing, that place is like a morgue, but you get the picture. A big rousing song for all the fans to get behind is part of the footballer supporting experience.
Gillingham have The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck. For those too young to know, Englebert Humperdinck was like a low rent, slightly crap Michael Buble. Also that’s not his real name. The Last Waltz is a dreary, plodding ode to lost love and regret. Following any victory at Gillingham the PA, rather than playing anything upbeat, celebratory or even, heaven forbid, fun, plays a special fans recorded version of The Last Waltz. It serves as a powerful reminder to the departing home support. Yes, we may have won, but keep your feet on the ground. It may not happen again for a while.
7. Every Season Starts With Unknown Players - But Deep Down We All Know
Gillingham's opening match this season (a 4-2 defeat at MK Dons after we were 2-0 up - see, I told you) featured five players making their debut for the club. My combined knowledge of those five players was this; captained Port Vale; played for England U-20's. Quick. Scored this goal.
That's four pieces of information for five players. There were another three new players on the bench but none that I knew anything about. All of them were either free transfers or loan signings. It could be that they all turn out to be fantastic signings, real rough diamonds ready to glisten and shine, but let's be honest; if they were really any good then they probably wouldn't be signing for us.
Sure, life as a Gill can be tough at times, but, at the end of the day, are there another set of fans in the world that can look themselves in the mirror and claim to be The Pride Of Kent? Absolutely not.
What do you think? Do we miss any key points out? Let us know in the comments below.