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The Shouting Men column with Gillingham's long-serving midfielder Mark Byrne - recalling the highs and lows from 150 appearances

It was good to have made my 150th appearance last weekend and there have certainly been some ups and downs.

One of the biggest lows was probably the penalty I gave away the other day, against Peterborough.

One of Mark Byrne's low-lights at Gills came in the game against Peterborough Picture: Ady Kerry
One of Mark Byrne's low-lights at Gills came in the game against Peterborough Picture: Ady Kerry

After the game I was proper gutted, it ruins your whole weekend, just thinking about it over and over again.

I had my eye on the ball but it moved on me at the last second. I think Max Ehmer and Mark Beevers, the Peterborough defender, came across me and as I was coming down it hit me square on the hand. I didn’t have chance to move out of the way.

Joe Ward was the one who had taken the corner and he hit it a bit like the worldy goal he scored, the ball would dip. I knew straight away it was a penalty.

We were 1-0 down already and not only did I concede the penalty, which they scored from, but I picked up my fifth booking too and that got me suspended. That made it even worse.

More on the Gills;

The incident was brewing on me all weekend and I hardly spoke to the missus. I apologised to the lads but the gaffer just said, ‘get on with it, keep doing what you’re doing’ and that these things happen. That was good from him.

I was just delighted to be back in the team on Saturday at Accrington and that we got the win.

We started off brightly and I hit the post! Jack Tucker firstly hit the post with his header, their defender tried to clear it and I ran in from the side.

I was just placing it in the corner but the defender got a touch on it at the last second.

Mark Byrne hits the post in the early stages of the game against Accrington Picture: Ady Kerry
Mark Byrne hits the post in the early stages of the game against Accrington Picture: Ady Kerry

Jack Bonham pulled off a few great saves and Regan (Charles-Cook) was delighted with his goal, it was his second start in a row and he hasn’t had many this season.

I think he spent the whole journey home watching his goal over and over again! I am delighted for him. You just want to shake him sometimes but he is always happy and a lovely lad.

It had been a good team effort in the end, with the boys putting bodies on the line to ensure we got the win.

Jack had kept us in the game as times, with some of his saves, he did really well and will have been delighted with his performances. We hope he doesn’t have too many saves to make but when we need him, we know he is there.

The three points were massive for us.

Regan Charles-Cook enjoyed his goal against Accrington Picture: Ady Kerry
Regan Charles-Cook enjoyed his goal against Accrington Picture: Ady Kerry

We had trained at Preston on the Friday afternoon and it was raining non-stop until kick-off on Saturday.

Had Accrington played on the same pitch as they did last year I think it would have been called off, but their new pitch was brilliant in the end, probably one of the best I’ve played on this season.

The changing rooms weren’t so good. You are basically getting changed in a urinal! I hear they are moving them and I think they need to. The toilet cistern is high up and that was spraying water out over the sides while the roof looked like it was held up with tape.

It’s one place where you have to roll up your sleeves and you know what you are going to be in for. I think there were a few who were experiencing the place for the first time, like Stuart O’Keefe, but I was just delighted for the win.

I am hoping there are many more than 150 appearances at the club for me to come.

Mark Byrne played under Justin Edinburgh for a third time when he signed for the Gills Picture: Barry Goodwin
Mark Byrne played under Justin Edinburgh for a third time when he signed for the Gills Picture: Barry Goodwin

I can clearly remember when I signed. I flew over from Ireland to do my medical and have a meeting with Justin Edinburgh (then manager).

It was just a case of getting a few things sorted and I flew back that night.

Gillingham had actually been looking to sign me the January before, but it didn’t go through in the end as I don’t think Newport wanted to let me go, so we had to wait until the summer.

I had a really good season in 2017/18, winning a lot of awards and I have managed to keep my place in the team for most of my time here.

It is just me being consistent. Players come in and sometimes they can do well for one or two weeks, but you have to keep your head. I didn’t start the first few games but since then I have been in.

Mark Byrne celebrates scoring a goal for the Gills at Priestfield Picture: Andy Jones
Mark Byrne celebrates scoring a goal for the Gills at Priestfield Picture: Andy Jones

At the moment, the three of us in midfield, myself, Alfie Jones and Stu O’Keefe have done well.

There is a lot of work rate and I think the gaffer likes that. We just have to keep doing what we are doing and hopefully I can keep my name in the team every week.

It will be a tough game this Saturday against Rotherham but hopefully we can get the three points and put a bit of a run together.

I looked at the table the other day. We are so close to the play-offs and we’re looking up. Two or three more wins could push us right up there.

There is nobody other than Oxford who I thought were really good, even Ipswich at home I think we should have got something out of that.

Gillingham's Mark Byrne signs from Newport in June 2016 Picture: Gillingham FC
Gillingham's Mark Byrne signs from Newport in June 2016 Picture: Gillingham FC

I think the team this year is probably better, squad-wise, than what we had last year, when we finished 13th.

It has taken us a while to get to know the new bodies this season but we have started to gel together. There is plenty of work-rate, we are a really fit team and the training has been intense. There have been a lot of double sessions but hopefully that will pay off.

I got to watch the England rugby match on the morning of the Accrington match, in the room, after breakfast.

I do like the rugby and when I lived in Cardiff I used to try and watch the Six Nations.

Mark Byrne spent time living in Cardiff and loved beating them in the FA Cup
Mark Byrne spent time living in Cardiff and loved beating them in the FA Cup

I know one of the Wales players, Liam Williams. He knew a couple of the other lads at Newport and he came to watch a few of our games. It used to be hard to get tickets for the rugby and he sorted us out.Wales in where I once played and lived and it’s where my daughter was born so I have some affection for them.

England were brilliant against New Zealand and deserved to win it. They’ve been good all tournament and I think they will beat South Africa in the final this Saturday.


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