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Ady Pennock looking to recreate magic of his Priestfield playing days now he is in the Gillingham hot seat

Ady Pennock has many fond memories of Priestfield from his playing days.

The former Gills skipper is now hoping he can rekindle some of those special times during his time as manager.

Pennock, who took over as head coach on January 4, is due to take charge of his first game at home when Shrewsbury visit on Saturday.

Ady Pennock and, left, Guy Butters celebrate Gillingham's promotion to the old Division 1 at Wembley in May 2000
Ady Pennock and, left, Guy Butters celebrate Gillingham's promotion to the old Division 1 at Wembley in May 2000

“I have unbelievable memories,” said the 45-year-old, who played 199 times for the Gills.

“When I first joined, the Medway Stand wasn’t built and there was a hole in the roof of the Rainham End. The dugouts were over the far side but what I have always liked about it is that it’s compact and you get a good atmosphere."

Pennock played during Gillingham’s time in the second tier of English football, taking many happy memories, which ended in January 2003 because of a knee injury.

The second leg of the play-offs in 1999, against Preston, was one of those games which sticks in his mind.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable,” he said. “We had massive speakers in the corner blasting music out and fire coming out from when we came down the tunnel. Hessy scored within the first few minutes and then it was like the Alamo for the rest of the game."

Crowds have dipped since then and the Gills' home has been less of a fortress since returning to League 1. In the last three-and-a-half seasons, the Gills have lost 23 of their 81 home games, winning less than half of them.

Pennock said: “I spoke to Chris Wilder (the Sheffield United manager) after the game on Saturday. He mentioned how this was a tough place to come to when I played.

“The crowd were intimidating, our team were strong. We have to get that back, this has to be a fortress here."

But he hopes the home fans stick with his side if things aren’t going to plan.

He said: “We need that togetherness. There will be times in games where we won’t be playing well, but when you stick together you do grind out results."

Read the full interview in Friday's Medway Messenger.

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