Richard Day looks back at the club's opening day results previouslyFollowing this morning’s fixture release for the 2013-14 League One campaign, we look back at the Gills 111 previous opening day games in the clubs history in their various leagues.
If you were to go back in history, like me, to the very first season of competitive football 1894-95 under the New Brompton mantle, the opening game in Southern League Division Two saw Gillingham win 6-0 at Sheppey United. The scorers here were David Hutcheson with a treble, plus other goals from Fred Manning, Arthur Rule and a Button own goal.
In that total of 111 games played on the first day of the season the Gills have won 41 times, lost 40 while 30 have ended in draws.
There have of course been a number of highs and lows in this time. The biggest ever first day victory came on August 25 1945 in the Kent League days when Sheppey United were once again on the wrong end, this time losing 9-1 where amongst the scorers was Vic Hole who helped himself to five goals.
Another big home win came on September 1 1909 when Reading were thrashed 7-0 in a Southern League fixture, John Taylor grabbed a hat-trick while Joe Satterthwaite and Albert Court hit doubles in an emphatic win.
The Gills have also suffered too, Bristol Rovers beat them 9-1 in September 1907, Charlie McGibbon netting, while Coventry City won 7-1 at Highfield Road in August 1933 where George Purcell notched the consolation.
Saturday August 22 1959 saw an opening day thriller here at Priestfield Stadium as Pat Terry grabbed a hat-trick while Bill Patrick and Bill Albury also scored as Harry Barrett’s team edged a 5-4 win over Gateshead.
This seasons game against Colchester United on Saturday August 3 will be the fifth successive season that Gillingham will play their first game at home having faced Bradford City, Cheltenham Town (twice) and Swindon Town in the previous four.
It is probably the latter of these that may remain etched in the minds of Gills fans as they hammered their arch-rivals from Wiltshire 5-0 thanks to a Simeon Jackson hat-trick which was added to by Mark Bentley and Adam Miller.
A little more recently the Gills record on the first day looking back to the 2000-01 season is quite impressive with seven wins, three draws and just three defeats to their name, the opposition including the likes of Huddersfield Town, Ipswich Town and Sheffield United.
The game against Neil Warnock’s Blades was played in blistering heat at Bramall Lane on August 9 2003 and it probably came as no surprise to the sun-kissed crowd of 21,569 that neither side could muster a goal.
Twelve months later Paul Smith put Gillingham ahead at Portman Road midway through the first half but George Burley’s Ipswich Town hit back to win 2-1 through Richard Naylor and Dean Bowditch.
Ronnie Jepson was the man in charge in August 2006 when Huddersfield travelled to Priestfield where Matt Jarvis and Dean McDonald netted in a 2-1 victory – Gary Taylor-Fletcher getting the Terriers goal.
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