Gillingham are now in the Second Division of the Football League, which is the Fourth Division in 'old footballing money', having just got relegated in May. I've only been to their Priestfield home once before, to watch the Dulwich Hamlet youth team in a John Ullmann Cup tie, in the early nineties.
I returned there in March this year to take some photographs at a reserve team match in the Football Combination, which was on a Wednesday afternoon. I went with a friend of mine, tony, who is a Gills fan, as well as being a follower of the Hamlet.
Come out of the station & follow the signs.
This alley is by the ground, & leads up to the away turnstiles. Apparently this 'cut through' is known by the locals as 'dog shit alley'! It is also the place where a Fulham fan Matthew Fox was killed by Gillingham supporters in 1998.
Here is the away entrance.
That stand doesn't look the safest, a bit too 'temporary' a la Bastia for my liking!
The usual list of do's & don'ts.
This caught my eye simply because of the child-like graffiti on it.
Back down the alley, and we're now on Redfearn Avenue, which is where the main stand backs onto. Here is the matchday players' entrance, you can see the start of the stand, to the left.
This is the full frontage of it.
Parked outside is the coach for the Queens Park Rangers reserve side. The coach company have contracts with a number of professional clubs, we had a brief chat with the coach driver on the way out afterwards, as you do!
On the other side of the road is this caravan in someone's back garden. No wonder Gills fans are referred to as 'Pikeys'! ;-)
Smart signage over the club entrance.
This is Tony, 'making love' to his club! I always knew he'd make a good pole dancer! ;-)
The club shop is by the main entrance. Lots of shirts going cheap...end of season lines.
On the wall, in the foyer, is this picture of a packed stadium. Well I assume it is, as it only shows two sides! ;-)
This was the gate that was open for the game. Only £3 for reserve matches.
Further along is the social club.
Turning the corner, behind the main home Rainham End, is this 'posh' entrance. Presumably where the 'big wigs' & 'corporates' presumably go on matchdays.
Tucked away in the corner is the club's community bus.
Here we are now, in the ground, having gone through the only open turnstile.
This snaps was taken after the match, my mate Tony, not looking too happy, perhaps thinking of prison, & not wanting to be behind bars! ;-)
Note this is just for the family area. Presumably you can do what you like in the rest of the ground! ;-)
We're still just through our turnstile, under the Medway stand. Just the one refreshment kiosk open, not exactly doing a roaring trade!
Here is our first glimpse inside the ground, from the concourse/entrance area.
We sit in the middle of the lower tier of the Medway Stand, which is the only part of the ground open to spectators today. Looking to our right we see the seats in this area, as wel las the open away end, which we saw from outside earlier.
Across the pitch, at kick off ,we see the Gordon Road Stand, on the other side.
Here we see the rest of our stand, to the left, with the corner of the Rainham End in shot.
This is the Rainham End, which my friend Tony claims is noisier than the Kop, at Anfield, on a good day. I'm not so sure! ;-)
A closer, lower angle of it.
A local radio station hoarding at the end of the main stand.
At the bottom corner of the main stand we look back down it, & see some of the upper section, above the executive box area.
There are only one or two stewards about, so I use half time to do a circuit of the ground, hoping I don't get noticed, or stopped. Which thankfully I don't. Marvellous!
Here is my first 'corner flag' shot, across the pitch.
The Rainham End, from the bottom corner.
Here we are, up at the back of the Rainham end, with the corner of the Gordon Road side visible.
And here we get a good shot of the Gordon Road side, nicely done with the club nickname in the seats.
Now looking over to the away end, called the Brian Moore Stand, after the sports commentator, who was a fan & former director of theirs. Immortalised in the name of their superb old fanzine "Brian Moore's Head"....which is the shortened version. The full title has added to it: "..looks uncannily like the London Planitarium"
The glass at the back of the Rainham End catches a refelction of the ground in it.
Here we look back down the Medway Stand, seeing the upper section for the first time.
An almost identical view, but slightly further along.
Here we look directly across the pitch, to the away end. It just doesn't fit in with the other three sides does it? Almost as if the club had plans, but ran out of money?
Moving slowly along the Rainham End, we glance over to the Gordon Road side, where we are on our way to.
These adverts are at the back of the stands, for one of the local paper chains.
Here we look down the Gordon Road side touchline.
Before we get there it's another glance over to the Medway Stand.
Now down at the corner flag, we look back up into the Rainham End.
Into the Gordon Road stand, at last!
A chance to have your own personal message at the bakc of it. Not the biggest of take up rates...
Directly across the halfway line, looking into the Medway Stand.
Moving along, we're closer to the away end.
Turning round, we see down the seats, where we've come from.
Now we're at the next corner. I'd hate to be a visiting fan on a rainy day! Imagine it pouring down & you're three down!
Another corner flag picture, once more another Medway Stand picture.
A side angle shot of the Gordon Road Stand, inside the ground.
On the wall at this end of the stand was some sort of local sponsorship/ loyalty scheme.
Not sure what the benefits are, but it has a good take up rate from traders.
Here we are behind the away end. Not sure how safe I'd feel if it was full to capacity, & everyone was bouncing up & down on it!
Behind it is the refreshment kiosk. I like the original name given to it.
Presumably there was an old terrace at this end, which was just demolished, & this stand plonked on top.
My attempt at the 'arty farty' angle, with the top of the Gordon Road side, and a pylon.
Here we now see the away end, with the modern building in the far corner housing the changing rooms area.
Directly behind the goal, Gordon Road Stand in the background.
And behind the net, looking down to the Rainham End.
With the Medway Stand, oce more, now to our left.
A picture of the mass of scaffolding under the open end. I sincerely hope it never becomes a 'tangle' of scaffolding!
Here is a walkway under it, to one of the lower sections of it.
Going up into the stand, yet another snap of the Medway Stand.
This is the view down behind it, from the back row.
At the back we get a superb view of the Rainham End.
As well as the Gordon Road side, to the right.
Up the back, looking toward the changing room areas, & presumably club offices, that sort of thing.
Here we have a good side angle of the Medway Stand.
Now we're down the front, looking up into the away end, from the last corner.
From the same corner, looking down the length of the Medway Stand.
And across the pitch from the corner flag.
Now back in the Medway Stand, at the back of the lower tier. We can see the 'posh' seats, in front of the executive boxes.
Second half already underway.
A bit of action, the far corner providing the backdrop.
QPR in their change strip of red & black hoops.
Now back in the centre of the main stand, behind the dugouts.
Substitution time for the visitors.
The dugouts are the 'modern style' ones, with no roof. This is the home area.
Looking left, again ,from where we started our tour of Priestfield.
And a last glimpse to the other side of it.
Here's another shot over the pitch, only because I spotted the advertising hoarding to the right of the shot. Somewhat apt, bearing in mind their poor campaign!
After the match Tony posed with the manager Mark Stimson. All smiles, but he left after relegation, & he is now the gaffer at Barnet. Rather ironic since he hasn't got a barnet! ;-)
Tony was actually always slagging him off, but still wanted his photo taken with him!
I usually like to finish my posts with a club crest type snap, like the one above, if I have one to end with. But coming from the 'tower blocks of South-east London' I couldn't resist this 'pikey' image from the footballing capital of the 'Garden of England'!
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