West Ham United field strong side for Andy Hessenthaler's testimonial fixture at Priestfield.
West Ham ran out narrow 2-1 winners against the Gills at Priestfield as home fans paid tribute to club legend, Andy Hessenthaler, during his testimonial fixture.
Joined by his son Jake, Andy was greeted by a guard of honour and Captained the side, with ex-England international Teddy Sheringham wearing the armband for the Hammers.
West Ham got into their stride quickly and took the lead on six minutes when Brent Sancho’s defensive header came off the woodwork, and Teddy was well placed to convert.
A second was added when Hayden Mullins got onto the end of Matty Etherington’s corner ten minutes before the interval.
However, the Gills did get one back when Andrew Crofts headed home Danny Jackman’s well placed free-kick.
Gillingham: Matt Baker (Chris Sanna 60 mins); Jupp (Clohessy 70), Sancho, Cox (Johnson 9), Jackman, Jarvis, Flynn (Pouton 70), Hessenthaler (Bentley 54), Easton (Crofts 60), Mulligan (Savage 60), McDonald (Spiller 70).
West Ham: Walker, Clark, Konchesky, Mullins (Noble H/T), Tomkins, Collins (Ngla 83), Bowyer (Stokes 81), Sheringham (Cole 70). Zamora (Ashton 70), Harewood (Ephraim H/T), Etherington (Reid 88).
Attendance: 8000 (approx.)
Reflecting on the occasion, Andy said: "It is a great day but also a sad day as I have finally left the football club and moved on. I have some great memories from over the years and this is up there with them.
"The play-off games were both fantastic. We didn’t win the Man City game but it was a great day. The game against Wigan at Wembley the year after, that was another great day for us. I really enjoyed that with us getting promoted.
"Taking over as Manager was another great moment. To finish as high as we did in the Championship, in 11th place, that was fantastic. The FA Cup games here against Chelsea and away to Arsenal were both big days.
"The best goal I scored for the football club was probably the one in that play-off game up at Stoke where we lost 3-2 but won here at Priestfield and went on to Wembley."
Reflecting on the game itself he added: "It has been a fantastic day and very emotional. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it was great to see so many people come out today.
"It was good to pull that shirt on one last time and to get out there and play. It was an excellent feeling to get out there with the boys and be involved. I really enjoyed it out there. I thought that we seemed to get a bit better when I went off!
"West Ham had some good players out there today, with the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Dean Ashton, Lee Bowyer and Bobby Zamora. It wasn’t an easy game but I thought we done well and the longer the game went on, the stronger we got, and we could’ve got something out of the game. The fitness levels have come up again. The organisation and shape were good and it is all set for next week against Huddersfield.
"I had a word with the Manager but he said I was at fault for both of their goals as I didn’t pick people up at set-pieces so I think a new contract is out of the window!
"Ronnie said when I come off that I am still in good shape and for me to carry on, it wouldn’t have been a problem. The legs are still good, I played 90 minutes in the week for Barnet and 75 minutes against the Arsenal last week.
"I have to thank Ronnie Jepson for putting this on. He has been absolutely first class. He knows what he has to do at this football club, it is a tough job, but he is doing very well. Many thanks to Ronnie and the Chairman for giving me this game, they have both been great to me."
Approximately 8,000 fans turned up on the day and Andy was quick to pay his tribute to the fans who welcomed him with open arms and always greeted him with huge pride following his move from Watford.
He said: "The day that I walked into this football club, these fans have supported me since then and I cannot thank them enough. I have a great relationship with the fans here at Gillingham and I always will have.
"I will be back. I will come back and watch games and see everyone. Thanks very much for the memories. Thanks for supporting me from day one and I will never forget them. This club will always be in my heart as it has been a big part of my life and I will never forget the fans of this club as they have been fantastic."
Ronnie Jepson added his own personal tribute to Hess, saying:
"Andy came to me when his testimonial was first mentioned and I said I would do anything for it. We have done and I thought the reception that he got was absolutely fantastic.
"The way that he applied himself out on the park, it was brilliant. I could’ve taken him off at half-time and only given him 45 minutes, but I wanted him to come back on and then let him come off and get the ovation that he throughly deserves.
"I told Hessy at half-time that I was going to tell the media that I am blaming him for both of their goals! We had a little chuckle about that. I did give him a rollocking for not tracking his runners at times.
"He was fantastic. Even though it is his testimonial, Andy Hessenthaler showed you what it is all about out there. How he went about it, that was in the right manner. Hess is an absolutely fantastic lad."