Ten things you need to know about Gillingham FC

Gary Mulligan made 94 appearances for Gillingham
Gary Mulligan made 94 appearances for Gillingham

On Saturday, Brackley Town will play their first game against league opponents when they take on Gillingham FC.

Ahead of the FA Cup clash, here are ten things you need to know.

1. One player has turned out in the white-red of Brackley Town and blue of Gillingham, namely Gary Mulligan. “Mullers” made 94 appearances for the Gills scoring 14 times between 2006 and 2009 before moving to Northampton Town and then Gateshead from where he joined Saints in 2012.

2. The Gillingham FC forums and chat-rooms were quickly abuzz with the news of the draw. Frequently logged questions include “Where is Brackley?” and “Did you know Gary Mulligan plays there?” One reply earnestly states, “I used Google Earth to find Brackley and it is between Milton Keynes and Towcester, not far from Silverstone.” That’ll be us then. As for Gary Mulligan, reviews are mixed but better not to linger, Gary, just go out and show them. A further topic of debate are the ticket prices, reduced to £15, but leaving some Gills fans asking why so high given the £10 ticket price for the Capital Cup tie at Arsenal v Chelsea in the week.

3. So where is it Brackley are heading on November 9? Certainly around the M25 then east on the A2/M2 to the all-seater MEMS Priestfield Stadium, home to League One Gillingham FC ever since the club was formed as New Brompton FC in 1893, changing its name only in 1912. Developed before the war, little then changed at Priestfield until the mid-1990s when current chairman Paul Scally arrived. All four stands have since been demolished and three re-built. The fourth is a significant temporary structure behind one of the goals. It is named the Brian Moore Stand and awaits re-development including the addition of a roof. It accommodates visiting supporters and you will get wet if it rains. Voted the worst ground in the league by a national newspaper in 2004 this would appear unfair judging by images on the web but we shall find out for ourselves shortly and be in no doubt that it will compare most favourably with recent visits to the likes of Workington in particular!

4. Since the demise of Maidstone United in 1992, Gillingham is the only football league team in Kent – surprising given that it is the 10th largest English county by size and sixth largest by population.

5. One of Gillingham’s best known supporters was the late Brian Moore, TV commentator and doyenne of The Big Match, Sunday afternoon staple of football highlights in the 1970s.

6. Brian Moore’s close connection with the club spawned one of the early fanzines and best loved titles, the brilliantly named “Brian Moore’s head looks uncannily like the London Planetarium”. This publication sadly ceased in 2006.

7. We know Brackley Town as the Saints and Gillingham FC has a nickname also, the Gills. This is a neat way of devising a nickname, if rather boring. Instead of the Magpies, the Lilywhites, the Toffeemen and the Gunners, it would give us the News, the Totts, the Toffs and the Arse.

8. A familiar face for the Gills is 31-year-old Adebayo Akinfenwa, a favourite at the Cobblers in two spells at Sixfields and now in his second stint at Gillingham following a Summer free transfer after featuring in Northampton’s Wembley play-off defeat in May. The 1.80m and 86kg striker cuts an impressive figure looming down on goal. A less than impressive and bulky appearance two seasons ago at SJP in the Maunsell Cup saw Bayo nicknamed in unkindly fashion by Saints supporters as The Refrigerator.

9. Founded in 1893 the Gills have had 52 managers including several repeat performers such as Andy Hessenthaler and the current caretaker incumbent Peter Taylor who stepped in following the recent sacking of Martin Allen. In his first spell Taylor took the reins for 62 games handing over in June 2000 for Hessenthaler’s first stay of 228 games. All 52 managerial appointments have been English with the exception of nine Scots, Welsh and Irish. Links with SE London side Charlton Athletic abound and include former- ‘Addicks greats Mike Flanagan and Keith Peacock. Other well-known faces in the manager’s hot-seat at the Priestfield Stadium include Glenn Roeder, John Gorman, Neale Cooper and Tony Pulis.

10. Blue versus red is the classic confrontation. Everton v Liverpool, United v City, Arsenal v Chelsea. The Gills began life in black and white stripes and then red shirts with blue sleeves before switching to blue and white in 1931. The team has reverted to red and blue and also blue and black hoops since then. A supporters’ mutiny in 2003 saw a move to predominantly white shirts scuppered and in 2013 season ticket holders were given a vote to decide on the kit for the 2013-14 season – they chose the blue and white which is what they will wear against Brackley Town. The Saints will be in their usual home strip of white and red shirts, red shorts but with red socks instead of white.