This 1983/84 football season is carrying on regardless of whatever chaos is ruling my life. Therefore, instead of following the season date by date in a religious manner, I will just write the occasional feature, such as the one below on a small selection of Gillingham programmes.
Mark Dunk is a political activist that I know of and I have worked with him on a number of occasions. It was his 40th birthday earlier this year, so I thought it would be nice if I wrote the following blog as a tribute to his enthusiasm for a shit football club and I will send him the original programmes as a souvenir.
I have 5 Gillingham programmes from the 1983/84 football season. I have listed these below and I am sure you will agree that there are some glamourous Canon League games in this selection:
Gillingham v Hull City 3 Sept 1983
Gillingham v Oxford United 17 Sept 1983
Gillingham v Exeter City 18 October 1983
Gillingham v Lincoln City 5 November 1983
Gillingham v Bristol Rovers 23 April 1984
Where do I start? There is such a tasty smörgåsbord of articles in this enticing bundle, but I suppose it makes sense to start at the beginning with the mouth-watering fixture between the mighty Gills and the fearsome tigers from Hull at Priestfield Stadium.
Supporters of the Gills could be excused for expecting a page entitled ‘Management Talk’ to feature the words and wisdom of their first-team manager Keith Peacock. However, Assistant Manager Paul Taylor has been wheeled out to brush over the side’s opening day defeat at Sheffield United. The final score at Bramall Lane was 4-0 and Taylor can only hope that better things lay ahead:
“What happened at Bramall Lane was a big disappointment to us all but its now history and we must put to the back of our minds the events of that day.”
Some classic management talk there to kick-off a fairly standard programme of the time, which includes familiar staples such as a quiz, an A-Z of Gillingham, Pen Pictures of the visiting team, black and white action shots from previous games and a Gills chat column in which we discover that Gary Sutton’s decision to quit the world of football in favour of a career in the police force, makes him the sixth former Gillingham player to have joined the boys in blue. Sutton joins Kenny Ronaldson, Mike Buttress, Charlie Yong, John Overton and Dave Shipperly in carving out a career away from football with the police. This is an interesting tit-bit for almost no one. I wonder if the number of players to have joined the police has risen since 1983? If anyone has the answer to this puzzler then please keep it to yourself and don’t encourage me.
I should also make a comment about the visitors to Priestfield Stadium on this Saturday afternoon in September 1983 – Hull City. Numerous times throughout the programme, we are reminded that the Tigers – who were fresh from winning promotion from Division 4 in 1982/83 – had recovered from the brink of extinction only months earlier.
I could review each and every Gillingham programme that I have. Indeed, this was my original intention, but I really want to send my friend Mark his birthday card and programmes before the end of the year. I am just so busy and stressed at the moment that I do not have the time or, to be honest, the inclination to do this. I am attempting to finalise my support arrangements with ICS and WCBC, after years of campaigning for independent living for disabled people. It seems that I am having to fight to the bitter end to receive what I need to be able to meet my physical and mental well-being needs. This is the appalling reality of life for disabled people in 21st century Britain.
Subsequently, I think you can survive without a review of the Gillingham programmes against Oxford, Exeter, Lincoln and Bristol Rovers. Hopefully, Mark will enjoy his bundle of programmes and I will soon hear my fate as decided by an independent social worker. The only thing that will be decided by this is whether or not I have to keep fighting or whether justice has finally been served.
I guess the pursuit of justice is something that I have in common with at least 6 ex-Gillingham players…