View from the South Stand - Gillingham 09/08/11
With Brighton and Hove Albion set to play host to their
old landlords Gillingham on Tuesday night in the first round
of the Carling Cup, we asked Simon Head - Editor of Gills365,
to answer some questions for us.
missing out on the play offs on goal difference last season,
what are the expectations for this coming campaign?
We're lighter up front at the moment, and we need to address
that as soon as possible, but overall I'd say we're looking
a lot stronger in key areas than we were last year. Hopes
are high for an improvement on last season's eighth-place
finish. If we can find another goalscorer to play alongside
new signing Danny Kedwell up front, that would give us a
serious shot at automatic promotion.
Who are the key men in the Gills
side we should be looking out for on Tuesday night?
the Carling Cup, and the fact that we're playing against
a Championship side, there's a fair chance we'll field
a less than full strength side for this match. The match
may see a chance for our 19-year-old Argentinean goalkeeper
Paulo Gazzaniga. He can barely speak any English, but
is already something of a cult hero at the club. In midfield,
our former Peterborough pair of Charlie Lee and Chris
Whelpdale should really be operating at Brighton's level
this season anyway. That they're playing for us is something
of a coup for the club.
Andy Hessenthaler is obviously
a bit of a club legend and a relatively successful manager
having led Dover to two promotions and you guys to your
highest ever finish. What went wrong and caused him to
resign in his first spell, and is he a better boss now?
short, failure to regenerate an ageing squad. The team
was largely the one he used to play in, and perhaps he
was a little too close to some of the players. An alternative
view could suggest the resources weren't there to replace
them anyway. But the truth is we had too many players
who were past their best and not enough quality coming
through to replace them. In the end, that cost us our
league position. Back then he was a rookie manager, but
now I definitely think his experience will stand him in
good stead this season.
How much do you know about the current Albion side?
I know that Gus Poyet is doing an outstanding job there,
and it'll be interesting to see discover the next star
to come from your club following the departure of the
impressive Elliott Bennett in the summer. Brighton has
always been a big club that has struggled after losing
their ground over a decade ago. Your promotion couldn't
have been better timed, considering the completion of
your new stadium. If you can keep Poyet at the helm, I
can see the Seagulls consolidating their position in the
Championship over the next couple of years.
Gus Poyet is likely to play a
weakened side. How seriously do you think Andy Hessenthaler
and Gillingham will be taking the game?
It's tricky. Our squad isn't huge, but we will have a
number of potential first-teamers who will miss out on
the starting XI in the league, so I expect they'll get a
run-out at the Amex on Tuesday night.
We obviously once shared a home
ground and you were one of the more frequent teams to
visit Withdean. Are you looking forward to visiting The
Unfortunately work commitments prevent me from making
the trip, but I'm incredibly jealous of those Gills fans
who are. The stadium looks fantastic (especially the beer
hand-pumps!) and I'm sure our fans will come back from
that game praising the standard of the ground. One thing
I will guarantee - our fans will do everything they can
to contribute to a great atmosphere on the night.
Do you think that Gillingham
will ever hit the heights of being a solid, mid table
side in the Championship again?
It's possible, but it's a few years off at present. First
of all we need to get out of League Two - no mean feat
Paul Scally is, for want of a
better word, a bit of a character. He's banned newspaper
reporters, a chairman of a supporters group and has not
hidden his desire to move the club to another Kent location.
What's the general opinion about him among fans?
fair to say the chairman has been something of a divisive
character down the years. I'm sure he's passionate and
committed to the club, but in my humble opinion he, and
the club as a whole, can and should look at their relationship
with the fans, because it's not as strong as it could,
or should, be.
What do you think of the following
with Brighton-Gillingham connections - Peter Taylor, Andrew
Crofts, Danny Cullip and Mark McCammon?
Tayor inherited the fantastic squad built by Pulis, transformed
them into an attractive passing side and got us promoted
at Wembley. Andrew Crofts had huge potential and showed
some real quality while at Gillingham, but perhaps got
a little stale and needed a move. Brighton gave him that
and now his performances for Norwich have helped them
into the Premier League. One of our local boys done good.
Danny Cullip was a no-nonsense centre half who we only
had for a short spell, while Mark McCammon's tenure at
the club could best be described as a bad move for both
Finally, what do you think the
score will be?
thanks to Simon for his insight into the forthcoming fixture!
If we play an under-strength side, 3-1 to Brighton. If
we play our full-strength team, I can see us getting a
draw in the 90 minutes. From there, who knows?