A look at some successful former Gills, and some that just missed outIt is not just the Gills of 2012-13 that have been celebrating in recent weeks, a number of former players have also had the sweet taste of promotion this season…
Following last weekend’s nail-biting climax to the Championship, it was Steve Bruce, the manager of Hull City, who was rightly celebrating after the Tigers reached the promise land of the Premier League having clinched the runners-up spot behind Cardiff City.
Steve was also at Old Trafford yesterday, one of the many former players who were there as Manchester United said ‘goodbye’ to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Also in a managerial post where his club won promotion is Barry Ashby, assistant to Jamie Day at Welling United, who lifted the Blue Square South title.
Matt Lawrence, who made 73 appearances for Gillingham before leaving in the summer of 2012, was a regular as Brighton-based Whitehawk lifted the Ryman Premier League title where the veteran defender, now 38, has scored one goal in 39 games for manager Darren Freeman another former-Gill.
Meanwhile Kevin James was a member of the Dulwich Hamlet squad who clinched the Ryman League Division One South title. The 32-year-old, who arrived at Priestfield under Andy Hessenthaler in August 2000 having been released by Charlton, went on to make 53 appearances for the Gills. He has netted five goals in 38 matches for the Hamlet in this season’s promotion campaign.
On the same day young midfielder Alex Brown, released from Priestfield during the promotion season, came on as a 61st minute substitute as Maidstone United won the Ryman League Division One South Play-Off Final. He scored the third goal in a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Kent neighbours Faversham Town in front of a sell-out 2,226 crowd at the Gallagher Stadium. Other ex-Gills in the Stones squad were Charlie Mitten, Rory Hill and Michael Phillips.
Then on Sunday Michael Flynn played 75 minutes of Newport County’s Blue Square Premier Play-Off Final success. The Exiles, who also had keeper Alan Julian on the bench, beat Wrexham 2-0 at Wembley Stadium and will return to the Football League after a 25 year hiatus.
The former Gills skipper, who won promotion with Wigan and played Championship football here at Priestfield, said to the South Wales Argus “Last Sunday’s victory at Wembley was, without a doubt, the best day of my football career.”
Unfortunately the good news for former Gillingham players didn’t extend to the weekend just gone.
In the Blue Square Bet North Play-Off final Gary Mulligan’s Brackley Town lost 1-0 at home to FC Halifax while in the South Dean Rance, Tom Wynter and former trialist Ben May were in the 10-man Dover Athletic team that were defeated 3-2 after extra-time at Salisbury.