Adam Bird


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Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Who the ****ing Hell Are You?

I was planning on writing a blog today, celebrating the joyous occasion at Anfield last night, as Liverpool reached their seventh European Cup final, their second in three years. The fact that it was a hard fault battle against the likes of the unlikeable Robben, Drogba and the "cannot make my mind up about him" Mourinho made it all the sweeter.

Poor Oliver whom was attempting a peaceful nights sleep was probably wondering what the hell his Daddy was doing two inches away from the TV trying to scream quietly and jumping up and down like a rabid banshee.

However, my pre thought blog entry was instantly scrapped when I read this article on the BBC website.

"Gravesend announce change of name" my Google homepage told me. Naturally I was intrigued as to what this meant, I thought maybe they had dropped the Northfleet part, as in some media circle the Northfleet is never displayed (possibly because Gravesend and Northfleet is too long or something).

Instead, it turns out the Gravesend and Northfleet have changed their name to Ebsfleet United!!!!!

What the HELL is that about?????

Ebsfleet, to my knowledge is a partially built train station on a piece of land that formerly used to be the place which I did a cross county run for the boy scouts (yes, that is mighty hilarious ha ha!), and where all the rebelious kids at school used to go for a dip whilst bunking off in the summer months. NOT a place to name a football club after.

Ok, so Ebsfleet is earmarked for in the region of 9,000 homes, businesses, schools and what not but these are unlikey to materialise for a few years yet! So again, why name a football club after a brownfield site that isn't going to be fully developed until possible after the 2012 olympic games and is likely to be populated by persons whom have already shown allegience to a particular team?

I undertand that "The Fleet" have been having trouble drawing supporters to match days and that the board quite rightly have aspirations for league football. However I don't believe that by changing the name to be the solution.

Gravesend and Gillingham share similar problems, Charlton for example offering free bus travel from both Gravesend and Gillingham, which is not illegal. Although in my view, slightly immoral, but then if it was Gillingham offering a similar service would I think the same? What I am trying to suggest here is that the competition for both clubs, with such a proximity to the big London teams is that attracting fans is always going to be a problem.

Gillingham have many other factors, but at the moment, sticking with "The Fleet", the fact remains that as a conference club the lure as a supporter is currently not a big one.

What "The Fleet" have in their favour, is that they are very much a progressive club, each season seemingly doing better than the last, only just missing out on the playoffs this time around.

Next season, with the Setanta Sports coverage, and the sponsorship of Blue Square the Conference teams will see a large increase in money, possibly the most that "The Fleet" have ever had. This, and the hopeful aquisition of Liam Daish for another season and keeping hold of their leading goalscorer Charlie McDonald should see them chasing again for that coverted playoff spot.

I try and see "The Fleet" a couple of times a season, normally when the Gills are away and I always feel that I ought to. Gravesend is my home town, I was born there and lived there all my life. It may not be a suburban utopia, but where is?

The fact that I am a Gills fan potentially invalides that argument, but there are plenty of people I know who do the same. Gravesend has a large amount of Millwall, Charlton, Gillingham, Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and even Sheffield Wednesday fans, people I know who frequently go to see their team.

I may not be a Gravesend and Nortfleet fan as I am already a Gillingham Fanatic. But most Gills fans would love to have seen Gravesend and Northfleet in the league and maybe playing a local league derby, but Gillingham vs Ebbsfleet United? Where is the excitement in that?

I know that the team will be the same, the kit, the ground and most importantly the fans. I suppose it could have been a lot worse, we could have had a Wimbledon franchise situation, which would have been a disaster. Incidently, AFC Wimbledon played Bromley last night in the Ryman league playoffs and if they are successful and win promotion, along with MK Dons failure to reach League One, the two teams will only remain two league apart.

The beauty of blogging is that all of this information is publically recorded. 60 years ago Gravesend FC changed to Gravesend and Northfleet and some of the local people at the time didn't take to it at all well. They didn't have the facility to log their opinions as I have now. Most people don't like change, even if it is a progressive, positive change. I myself don't particularly like this one, and it's something I will grow to get used to.

One final thought, if Gillingham changed their name to Medway Marauders FC, or Liverpool to Anfield Athletic, would I be alone in thinking that the world has gone mad? Probably not...


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