Spread the love


So here we go again. The return of the Brentford Gillingham rivalry after their championship-winning season last year. Except this time it’s all a bit strange. Gillingham have self-professed ‘Brentford fan’ Martin ‘mad dog’ Allen at the helm. And he brings with him a his band of merry men – many of previously plying their wares back at Griffin Park. BillytheBee talks to DJ and Gillingham fan Clive Johns on Mad Dog’s potty antics, season ticket IDs and Leon Legge.

You had a great season just gone. Martin Allen seems to have pulled things around. What was his recipe for success do you think?

Games of keepy-uppy with meat pies and introducing Harry J Allstars “the Liquidator” as our theme tune have Allen’s hallmark emblazoned all across them. That and ruling the dressing room with a rod iron. His way or the highway by all accounts. I’d love to bore you with detailed analysis of all the brilliant tactical and technical innovations he’s introduce but sadly I’m sub-Keegan in that respect. So I’m going to put it down to pasties and vintage reggae. Oh and the odd flying teacup.

Did you strengthen your squad when you got promoted? Are you happy with the signings?

We got 2 ex Gills favourites back in – Cody “goal machine” McDonald, and linebacker sized Adebayo “the beast” Akinfenwa. Plus Franco Congolese Algerian midfielder Amine Linganzi. But judging by our poor start – 3 defeats in 3 games, including a 4-0 beasting at Wolves, the whole thing may need shoring up.

Gillingham are nicknamed Gilling-Ford by Brentford fans as they seem to have a reputation for picking up ex-Brentford players. Do you think this is a fair tag? Which ex-Bees have gone on to really fly the flag for your club?

Not totally unfounded. As we all know the Pulis sides of the 90s were full of ex Bees – Asaba, Taylor, Statham, Paul Smith, Billy Manuel, Barry Ashby (who famously appeared on Blind Date whilst at Brentford), Frampton etc. Of the current side Stuart Nelson, Antonio German, Myles Weston and Leon Legge all came from you (Allen jnr doesn’t really count cos he was only there as a junior when his old man was in charge). Of those Leon Legge was my player of the season last term. He’s like a Y2K lower league version of Des Walker – you could just never beat him – although the very early signs are that he’s getting found out in League 1. Personal opinion is that Myles Weston flatters a little to deceive. The jury is out on German.

You say the hoof-ball Gillingham of old is gone now? You are playing ball ‘proper football’. What’s your style of football now?

Oh yes, it’s just like watching Barcelona or Spain – 80% possession and a dazzling passing carousel that bewitches the opposition. Seriously, we have been trying to play football with some degree of success last season (we did go up as champions). But so far we have been out of our depth – against a couple of the better sides in the division – and it hasn’t really worked.

Who are the Gills players to watch?

Super Danny Kedwell ! Local boy, likes a drink and a fag, looks like a pub player. Got him from AFC Wimbledon. Doesn’t really move like an athlete but NEVER gives up (face just gets redder and redder). And has a habit of popping up and scoring goals at crucial times. God knows, we could do with a bit of that on Saturday !!

Martin Allen is a bit of an eccentric. He once almost caused a full scale riot at Kenilworth Rd bating the Luton fans whilst walking back and forth on the pitch right in from of their extremely lively section. What is the maddest thing he has done since being down at the Gills?

The juggling of the meat pies is fairly bonkers. Other than that, he did offer out the entire Rainham End when some of them dared to criticize a substitution last season.

We hear that Gills season ticket holders now have to carry ID cards to ensure that they don’t pass their season ticket on if they can’t make a game. How is that going down?

Well what do you think ??!! Actually it’s even worse than that, the STs have a little mugshot on them. Mine sports a “selfie” as I believe the young people call them. Bloody liberty is the expression that comes to mind.

Hypothetically speaking you might have a group of mates, some of whom can’t always make games due to work, family or other commitments. So that group of mates passes their STs around. Been going on as long as, er, season tickets. Now in theory you can’t do that. So the same hypothetical group of mates may all have to grow beards, Jeremy Paxman stylee, in an attempt to outfox the Priestfield stadium turnstile Stasi. We’ll let you know how that goes.

How do you think you will get on against Brentford this weekend?

You will crucify us. We will try to play football and it will go horribly wrong and we will be left rueing the fact that we no longer have the kind of strikers who can mount a sustained aerial assault. Can’t see us picking up a win until we are 6 or 7 games in, looking at the fixture list.

Who are the teams to watch this season for promotion? Who do you think may be languishing in the relegation frame?

Promotion: You lot, Orient, Wolves obviously. Relegation: I’m always a gloomy git, as you can probably tell. So I think we will be down there. MA was talking about “smashing the division” (not in a Richard Keys sense I hope). That may have been misguided.

Any recommendations for a pre-match drink for away fans travelling up?

I won’t lie. Gillingham isn’t exactly blessed with quality boozers. The Southern Belle next to the station is ‘convenient’ if you’ve taken the rattler, but I wouldn’t recommend it as such. The Livingston Arms near the entrance to the away end welcomes away fans and has a bit of atmosphere on match days. The Ship Inn in Lower Gillingham is a off the beaten track – about 10 mins walk from the ground or 5 mins in a cab – but friendly and I’m told the landlord doesn’t mind if you order in a takeaway curry. The Will Adams is not a bad boozer for Gillingham. Otherwise if you want a pub experience closer to what you might find around Griffin Park then there are a some nice pubs in Rochester along the High St up to the river (Rochester is basically Gillingham’s posher older brother).

DJ Clive Johns