Sitting there in the away end, the “Dreams Stand,” at Adams Park, the home of football team Wycombe Wanderers and rugby union side London Wasps, there were plenty of negative emotions I could’ve felt.
It was the “Clash of the Titans” on April 11 down in the fourth level of the English football hierarchy, as third-place Wycombe Wanderers played host to sixth-place Gillingham in the Coca Cola League Two.
A goal from John Akinde on 41 minutes gave the home side a 1-0 victory, much to the despair of Gillingham and their army of traveling supporters.
It’s a result that means the Gills have only gained one point in four games. Hardly the kind of form required for a push at the automatic promotion places.
At the end of the match, walking away from High Wycombe and back down south to Gillingham, I could’ve felt anger, despair, misery, etc, at the final result.
But instead, I went away from Adams Park having witnessed one of the best away games I’ve been to this season.
Not just for what happened on the pitch, but also all that went on off it.
When I say Gillingham bring an “army” of supporters to away games, I really do mean it.
In an attendance of 6,306 at Adams Park, around 1,000 must’ve been Gills fans. But had you just heard the game and not seen it, you’d have thought there was only one set fans present, and they wouldn’t have been Wycombe ones.
The Gillingham faithful were relentless for almost the entire 90 minutes, constantly roaring on their team, and roaring down the home fans all around the ground.
On the pitch both teams were present however, but even that only lasted 45 minutes. After the interval, only the team in their yellow away colours were present on the Adams Park turf.
As one of the Gillingham faithful taking on the other 5,000 inside the ground, here was my view of all that went on in the Gills-Wycombe match, a.k.a “Clash of the Titans.”
The Ref’s a Magic W****r
I know it is rather cliché, blaming the referee when your team loses, but in this case, even for League Two’s very poor standard of officiating, the referee today was diabolical.
From a totally unbiased point of view (well, as unbiased as possible!), Mr L Mason, a.k.a “the w****r in the black!”, waved away four, yes four, penalties that Gillingham should’ve been awarded.
Well three actually, if you don’t include the first one which we did actually receive, after “the w****r in the black!” initially waved it away, only to be told by the assistant referee that actually, you fool, it was a penalty. (the penalty was missed, but more on that later).
Apart from waving away smack-addlingly obvious penalties, “the w****r in the black!” was also busy doing magic tricks with those yellow cards of his.
On both sides of the equation, according to “the w****r in the black!” pushes to the ground became dives by the other player, ordinary slide tackles became malicious two-foot lunges, and standard shoulder barges became deliberate attempts to push the opponent into the hoardings.
Basically, any sad little excuse “the w****r in the black!”could think of to dish out a warning.
These are the types of referees you all complain about constantly in the Premier League. But trust me, those referees are like Pierre Luigi Collina’s compared to “the w****rs in the black!” you often get down at this level.
You only sing when you’re winning! Or not…
As I’ve said before, the atmosphere from the Gillingham faithful away at Wycombe was outstanding throughout the entire game almost.
However, that’s far more than what could be said of the home fans.
Us Gills fans in the Dreams Stand certainly felt like we were in a dream, or certainly not in the real world/football match, as we couldn’t even sing: “Sing when you’re winning! You only sing when you’re winning!”
Similarly to the home of Charlton Athletic FC, The Valley Stadium, Adams Park, certainly when Wycombe Wanderers play there (or today at least), is like a funeral in the home areas.
Not even when they went 1-0 up did the home fans start singing. There were some cheers, but that was as loud as it got from the 5,000 Blues fans inside the ground.
So instead of the Gills fans’ comeback chant to counter-act the usual cockiness of home fans, we found ourselves attacking those home fans for their lack of passion with a bit of: “Sing when you’re winning! You DON’T even sing when you’re winning!”
The (lack of) passion was so bad in the home areas, that the only thing which showed there were some Wycombe fans who cared about proceedings in the game was a fat man banging a drum with a few fans clapping along, occasionally singing what really does seem to be their one and only chant: “Wycombe! Wycombe!”
“Simeon Jackson, dah dah, dah dah!”
“Referee! Penalty!!” Cue the magic tricks, and then the “lino” (assistant referee) telling “the w****r in the black!” that he’s a fool and it was indeed a penalty; the player was fouled inside the box.
And so, with a perfect chance to put his side back in the frame and level the scores at 1-1, Gillingham’s most reliable spot-kick taker Simeon Jackson steps up on 51 minutes.
‘Jacko’ is a U-20 Canadian international who is Gillingham’s top scorer at the moment, with 17 league goals and 18 in all competitions when you include his strike against American goalkeeping legend Brad Friedel, and his Premier League team Aston Villa, from the Third Round of the FA Cup.
Along with centre-back Simon King, Jackson is undoubtedly the best Gillingham have, and there’s always a sigh of relief (today was no different) when he steps up to take our penalties.
Following a long delay whilst Wycombe players desperately pleaded with the assistant referee, after keeping his cool for so long, up stepped Jackson to take the penalty… and blaze it over the crossbar.
A moment of disbelief then ensued, before the 1,000 of us came to realise the harsh, brutal reality of it; a perfect chance had just been wasted. Simeon Jackson had actually missed from the spot.
It remained 1-0 to the hosts, and it was an atrocious kick by “Jacko”. But that didn’t stop us.
“Simeon Jackson, dah dah, dah dah! Simeon Jackson, dah dah, dah dah!” We were not going to make the player who has done so much already for us this season feel too guilty about it.
In the end we lost, but what can you do? It’s not just Simeon Jackson’s fault, is it now?
Over-sensationalist Eton Schoolboys
If there was ever proof that Gillingham Football Club are supported by more than just lowly tramps in the ghettos of Gillingham, it was today in the Dreams Stand at Adams Park.
Throughout the entire game, chanting aside, all I heard behind me were a few gentlemen engaging in conversation about how “in my executive box at Old Trafford, I sit and wonder how Gillingham are just not as good as Manchester United”, combined with their running commentary on all the action THAT I COULD ALREADY SEE happening in front of me on the pitch.
In their very eloquent manner of speech, akin to an Eton schoolboy or the like, with their running commentary these ‘Eton schoolboys’ made this League Two encounter seem like the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
“As we approach the hour mark, this will be a massive 30 minutes for Gillingham, wouldn’t you agree, chaps?” said shortly after Gillingham missed the penalty and were still trailing 1-0.
I half-expected them to have microphones and radios with them, delivering commentary for BBC Radio 5 Live or something like that.
But instead, I saw four out-of-place young gentlemen with three-piece linen suits, glittering jewellery and rather unnecessarily expensive looking Rolex and Omega watches.
I was very tempted to ask the stewards if they could escort these lost gentlemen back to their executive boxes they probably hired in the adjacent Frank Adams stand.
In any case, I was half-glad I didn’t, because at least for the entire 90 minutes I was provided with a rather sensational live commentary of Gillingham vs. Wycombe Wanderers, delivered in this eloquent manner of speech from these young chaps who most likely have actually just finished their schooling at Royal Eton College.
Apart from all of the above, I also saw Wycombe Wanderers forward John Akinde beat the offside trap, as well as the Gills’ defence, and slot home the eventual winner past a helpless visiting goalkeeper, Simon Royce.
And just to finish, courtesy of kentonline.co.uk, here’s what another person thought of the match at Adams Park.
Gillingham manager Mark Stimson said: “I don’t think we [Gillingham FC] deserved a defeat.
“In the first half they were probably better than us but in the second half we battered them but just couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net, but if wasn’t for the want of trying.
“I can’t fault the boys’ effort and I think that was appreciated by the people who travelled with us and we have to take that into the remaining four games.
“If we take that luck which they had with their goal, which we thought was off-side, then we will be okay.”