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Robert Taylor – aka Super Bob – scored all five Gillingham goals in a league match at Burnley’s Turf Moor on February 27, 1999

It’s a quarter of a century since Robert Taylor wrote his name into the Gillingham history books after one special afternoon in Burnley.

Taylor scored all five goals at Turf Moor in a 5-0 away win on February 27, 1999 - not bad for a striker who started his career with the Gills trying to win the fans over after struggling to impress. He had joined for a then club record £500,000 fee from Brentford.

Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today
Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today

As described in Roger Triggs’ book ‘The Men Who Made Gillingham FC’ he had arrived at Gillingham “unfit, overweight and clearly lacking match fitness” and “struggled to overcome his detractors who clearly thought he was overpriced!”

His wife had to leave one game early in tears after one fan was giving him so much stick. Manager Tony Pulis had rigged one man-of-the-match award to make sure Taylor won in a bid to give his striker a confidence boost.

Once fully fit, Taylor quickly won those doubters around to become a club legend as the 400-odd away fans at Burnley that day 25 years ago watched a masterclass in finishing.

“It’s safe to say he won over his critics with that performance,” said Pulis at the time.

“All credit to him because he kept at it, determined to prove people wrong. He certainly did that.”

He had gone from “misfit to record breaker” as described by Gills reporter Tony Hudd in the Kent Today in the space of six months. Even the Burnley fans clapped him off the pitch late in the game after his five-goal salvo left Stan Ternent and his team in tatters.

Taylor himself described the feat as “unreal, like a fantasy” and added rather modestly: “I’m pleased but more pleased for the team as a whole because we were terrific as a unit.”

His first goal came on 14 minutes with a 25-yard volley - the perfect way to get off the mark.

Nicky Southall supplied the cross for his second following a short corner with Andy Hessenthaler after 27 minutes and Taylor netted twice more before the break, latching onto a long-ball forward and fending off a defender to make it 3-0 before adding a fourth from the penalty spot after Mark Patterson was tripped in the box. Nominated penalty-taker Guy Butters let his team-mate have the kick and early in the second half Taylor added a fifth with a headed goal past poor old keeper Paul Crichton, following Southall’s corner.

Burnley substitute Ronnie Jepson - who would become Gills’ manager years later - almost got one back but was denied by goalkeeper Vince Bartram.

Jepson had been sent on with the main task of making life uncomfortable for the rampant Gills in the second half and one of Taylor’s support acts, Southall, recalled getting an elbow shortly after his arrival on the pitch.

“I got one right in the back of my head straight away!” said Southall, who would later become a trusted senior player under Jepson.

“Little old Gillingham going to a big club like Burnley, nobody expected that, we didn’t expect it. For any team to score five goals away from home is rare but for one player to do it is even rarer.

"It was a great day, a great occasion and after the game the celebrations we had afterwards in the dressing room was amazing.”

Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today
Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today

David Garth, media officer for the Gillingham Supporters’ Club, says it’s a moment that won’t ever be forgotten.

He said: “It’s really hard to believe that Super Bob’s incredible feat was 25 years ago as it is etched in my mind – and many other supporters’ minds – forevermore.

“Gills were in great form and I’m sure we’d already scored five on the road just before Christmas when we won 5-1 at Colchester United but this was something else as Bob had already bagged a hat-trick after around 40 minutes to virtually settle the game and then got his fourth right on the break from the penalty spot.

“His first was a fantastic 30-yard volley and he completed the scoring early in the second half with a fabulous header as we all went mental from down the other end of the ground. It’s hard to believe that Bob didn’t end the season as top scorer as his 16 goals were four short of co-striker Carl Asaba – what a duo that was!”

Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today
Bob Taylor scored five goals against Burnley for Gillingham 25 years ago today

The result that day left the Gills fourth in Division 2 - a season that ended with the infamous game against Manchester City in the play-off final at Wembley.

Six months later Taylor would sign for City in a deal worth £1.5m, ending a 15-month stay with the Gills.

Taylor had provided so many memorable moments, scoring 39 goals.

Highlights included a fine effort in that final at Wembley, an injury-time winner against Fulham, a five-minute hat-trick against Wrexham and a second-half treble after coming off the bench to sink old boss Pulis’ Bristol City side shortly after - but it’s the five at Burnley that people still talk about most.

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