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Gills at Wembley - The Only Way is Up

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Watch Patrick Gearey's
report on the Gills' big day at Wembley.

by Patrick Gearey


There is something magnificent about seeing a Trafalgar Square
lion sitting at the foot of Nelson's Column with a Gills flag tied
around its neck and a traffic cone on its head.

It summed up a wonderful day for Gillingham FC on which they not
only returned to League One but also reignited many people in the
area's love for them.

You can call them 'fairweather fans' but you will not get tens
of thousands of people to watch you play Accrington - even if there
was the demand they wouldn't fit in the ground - and it was
heartening to see Gillingham fans trail from Kent through London up
to Wembley dressed in the team colours and singing all the Rainham
End favourites.

I met a girl from Edinburgh outside Charing Cross who had
travelled down with her mum and was predicting a nine-nil
scoreline. I ran into a young man from Saudi Arabia on Wembley Way
who has become Simeon Jackson's biggest fan. And there was a bloke
dressed as Batman at Baker Street.

It was, for the most part, a wonderfully sunny day and the
warmest weather reserved itself for the moments after that late
header booked Gillingham's place in League One. After that Gills
fans seemed to be everywhere- down Wembley Way through Piccadilly
Circus and draped across Trafalgar Square. A few probably even got
themselves places at the Queen's garden party- which has eluded
certain right-wing politicians.

There were downers on the day. Extortionate prices for food,
drink and pretty much anything shocked those who hadn't visited the
new Wembley before. Initially the trains seemed overcrowded in the
extreme- although that situation was eased by the provision of
extra services. And, on a personal level, the attitude of the
Football League and Wembley to accreditation and filming outside
the ground was far too draconian for a League Two play-off

But none of that even nearly detracted from a marvellous
occasion on which a new generation of Gills heroes announced
themselves. You could see in the unbridled joy of Jackson, King and
the manager Stimson, that this is a young team full of enthusiasm
to go on to better things.

In recent years, Gillingham have sometimes lacked that. Now
bring on Charlton.

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