Adam Bird


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Monday, 15 August 2011

The Journey Begins

I remember my first Gillingham away game. I remember the second one too, in fact, I could probably give you a snippet or a fact from them all. Like that first one, which was way back in 87, on the open away terrace at Southend United. My younger sister Jessica was also there and I remember my fingers being stained from eating a packet of Bovril flavoured crisps. But the thing that I remember more than anything else was swallowing a whistle which I had sucked inwards rather than blowing out in order to make a reverse whistling noise and having my Dads best friend performing the Heimlich maneuver to wrestle it out when it got wedged in my windpipe. It’s why I thought that I’d better record Oliver’s first Gills away game - as it wasn’t quite so interesting.

I’d had a call from Bampy on Friday afternoon, would I like to go to Crewe on Saturday? Our weekend was already planned and it involved gardening, running, rowing and taking you down the park to learn how to ride a bike with two wheels, but Bampy was adamant that I went! I explained that Mummy was at work and we’d need to get someone to look after you for a couple of hours, but his response was rather surprising - bring you with us! He was already taking Paris as some great child swapping routine was already taking place, so I agreed, we’d be going!

It took us just over four hours to drive up to Crewe, it would have been quicker but Bampy was doing an experiment with fuel economy and you decided to play another one of your bathroom games. We stopped off at the services where you asked “are we at the football now?”, “No Oliver we are not”. Bampy got us all a drink whilst we went to the bathroom. I’d told Bamby to get you only a small drink as I knew how difficult you found keeping anything in. No sooner had we gotten back in the car, driven for half an hour you told us that you needed to use the bathroom again. Not being able to stop for another twenty miles we asked you to hold it in, which was a task that you only just about managed before we got there in time.

Once we had arrived, parked the car outside the ground and brought our tickets, which itself was an experience. The lady in the ticket office refusing to charge you for a ticket as you were under 5, despite the price list clearly showing under 11 ticket prices as a fiver. We thanked her very, very much and asked ourselves whether we’d be afforded the same treatment back home at Priestfield? Anyhow, onto food, we wanted to find a Pizza Hut, or something Oliver and Paris friendly, but all we found were fish’n’chip shops. Crewe must have more fish’n’chip shops per mile than any non-seaside town I’ve ever been to, but we picked a good one with a nice seating area for a well deserved prematch meal, which included a nice Mr Whippy for desert, which you carried all the way back with you to the ground whilst Bampy disappeared to the bookies after a hunch that the Gills would run out winners 2-0.

Once in the ground, we found a place to sit, second row from the front, which was great for you and Paris as you could watch everything that was going on. For five whole minutes you sat in relative peace and quiet, watching the players train and to your amazement kicking the ball “really, really high into the sky”, but the novelty soon worn off and you preferred to mess around in your chair which folds up when nobody sits in it - annoying me, the person in front and the person behind in the process.

Through further bribery, sweets, iPhone threats and what not, we managed to get through the first half without me having to moan at you too much. Gillingham scored twice, much to my delight, but Bampy sat there looking rather nervously at his betting slip and wishing it was the final whistle rather than the one for half time. After Gillingham had scored there second goal, and Bampy had said to Paris that Gillingham were winning 2-0, Paris asked him “what ones are Gillingham?”

The second half began, you were more fidgety and bored, managed to drag me away from the action for yet another bathroom break, which fortunately didn’t coincide with any on the pitch action, so nothing missed. More fidgeting ensued before you said to me “Daddy, I don’t know what to do?”, “What do you mean, you don’t know what to do?”, I don’t want to watch football” you said, “I don’t like football, I don’t know what to do!”. If there was a more hurtful thing I’d ever heard you say, I cannot remember it, but there we were an hour into the game and you deciding that you didn’t like football! Until the Crewe player hit the ball so hard, missed the goal and went over the stand, which was your personal highlight of the day as it was the first thing you told Mummy when we got home.

Much to Bampy’s disappointment Crewe pulled a goal back, which meant, for Bampy and I, along with the other 293 Gillingham supporters a nervous finale to game. You and Paris made up the official total of 297 away fans, but wouldn’t have seen the three goal line clearances or the fantastic saves made by our goalkeeper Ross Flitney as you were too busy giving each other Chinese burns or in your case, staring at the people behind you despite my numerous attempts to tell you otherwise.

All in all, a semi-successful day, Gillingham won meaning that they had two league wins out of two, Bampy lost his bet, but broke a new fuel economy record, whilst yours and Paris’ first Gillingham away game passed by merely as a statistic. To sum it all up, I’ll leave that to Paris, Bampy asked her “Paris, did you enjoy that?”, “Yeah”, “Would you like to go again?”, “No!”

Oliver and Paris, with Bampy at Gresty Road, Crewe

For the Record

Oliver's first Gillingham away match

Crewe lineup: Steve Phillips, Harry Davis, David Artell, Adam Dugdale, Carl Martin, Ashley Westwood, Lee Bell, Luke Murphy (Ajay Leitch-Smith 67), Shaun Miller (Max Clayton 87), Byron Moore, Nick Powell (Danny Shelley 64), Subs not used: Alan Martin, Caspar Hughes

Gillingham lineup: Ross Flitney, Barry Fuller, Andy Frampton, Lee Martin, Matt Lawrence, Charlie Lee, Chris Whelpdale (Curtis Weston 34), Jack Payne (Stefan Payne 83), Danny Spiller (Matt Fish 88), Lewis Montrose, Danny Kedwell, Subs not used: Paolo Gazzaniga, Garry Richards

Result: 1-2

Attendance: 3,401 (297 Gillingham Supporters)


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