We continue our series of spotlight articles in preparation for League One
It’s fair to say that two of the more `animated` atmospheres for Gills fans next season are likely to occur against old rivals Swindon Town.
The two clubs have a history going back to the 1986-87 campaign when the teams met in the old third division play-off final. Swindon, then under the wing of former Manchester United midfielder Lou Macari, eventually gaining promotion via a replay which the Robins won 2-0.
Macari departed in 1989 to be replaced by Ossie Ardiles who won promotion to Division One in the 1990-91 season before Glenn Hoddle took the manager’s hot seat.
He guided the team to Premiership football for the 93/94 season before joining Chelsea. John Gorman took his place but was unable to keep the club in the top flight as they were relegated having only won five games during the campaign.
They have the unwanted record of being the first ever team to be relegated to the lowest division of the Football League having played in the top flight. That fate sealed at the end of the 05/06 season when former Gills striker Iffy Onoura was unable to prevent relegation to League Two.
However under the management of Paulo di Canio the club turned a corner, and after achieving promotion in the 2011/12 season to League One, they very nearly made it a double last season; however they missed out on a trip to Wembley after being defeated by Brentford in the semi-finals.
An automatic place may have been gained had it not been for the departure of the Italian who resigned as Manager in February. He was replaced by Kevin MacDonald who guided the squad to a top six finish, but unfortunately couldn’t seal Championship football.
As a result an old rivalry will ensue once more, and with both teams looking to mount a serious promotion challenge, both fixtures are bound to be competitive encounters.
The last time the two sides met was at MEMS Priestfield Stadium last April when the Gills kept their play-off hopes alive with a 3-1 victory courtesy of two goals from Chris Whelpdale and one for Danny Kedwell.
One of the more memorable matches however against the Robins took place on the opening day of the 09-10 season when a Simeon Jackson hat-trick helped the Gills to a 5-0 thrashing – Mark Bentley and Adam Miller grabbing a goal apiece in the process.
Swindon will be one of 23 opponents the Gills will be up against in League One. Sheffield United will be another big tie, a team which we spotlighted earlier in the week.
We have given a brief overview of five other sides in the division to keep you informed as to what you can expect.
Manager: Richie Barker
Home Stadium: Broadfield Stadium
League position last season: 10th in League One
Crawley certainly held their own during their first season in the third tier having been promoted as Champions the season before.
Richie Barker was appointed Manager last August and guided the team to a respectable top half finish, just six points shy of a play-off position.
Gillingham travelled to the Broadfield Stadium in September for the first round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The visitors took the lead through Bradley Dack, but the Red Devils eventually came through 3-2 winners to advance to the next round.
Chris Whelpdale in action against Crawley at Priestfield
Manager: Steve Davis
Home Stadium: The Alexandra Stadium
2012/13 finishing position: 13th in League One
After being promoted via the play-offs last season one would have been forgiven for thinking that Crewe had the potential to struggle in a higher league, especially after losing star man Nick Powell to Manchester United.
However Steve Davis guided Crewe to a brilliant mid-table finish, and had it not been for four straight defeats in April they may well have threatened for a play-off place.
Mathias Pogba made a big impression for Alex, the Guinean International scoring 16 goals in all competitions and he will no doubt be integral to a potential promotion push next season.
Danny Spiller and Andy Frampton celebrate a goal at Crewe
Manager: Russell Slade
Home stadium: The Matchroom Stadium
2012/13 finishing position: 7th in League One
After a slow start which saw the club fail to register a win in their opening five games of the season, Orient really found their rhythm prior to the New Year.
The club lost just two of their final 13 games but the club just missed out on a play-off position by three points.
Former Gills loanee Kevin Lisbie proved to be the team’s top goal scorer with 16 in total, and no doubt the club will look to hang on to him as they look to make a positive start next season.
Danny Jackman in action against Leyton Orient
Manager: Karl Robinson
Home Stadium: stadium:mk
2012/13 league position: 8th in League One
Like Leyton Orient, the Dons, formerly managed by Martin Allen, were unlucky not to achieve a play-off position, finishing just four points shy of Swindon Town who ended up in sixth place.
Fans may well point to their February results as the reason why they didn’t get in to the top six with the team only taking three points from a possible 18.
Having finished in fifth position in the 2010/11 and 11/12 campaigns the club will want to improve on this year’s points tally of 70, and with plenty of experienced players within their team, it is likely they will be among the pre-season favourites for promotion.
Matt Jarvis hassles the MK Dons defence
Manager: Chris Kiwomya
Home Stadium: Meadow Lane
2012/13 league position: 12th in League One
Former Arsenal forward Chris Kiwomya took over as permanent manager at Meadow Lane earlier this year having guided the squad to a mid-table finish.
He took over in February following the sacking of Keith Curle, and after an impressive run of form he has been rewarded with a three-year contract.
The first thing he may want to address is finding an out and out goal scorer. Last season no one player broke in to double figures for the season, and the Magpies could well challenge for promotion if they can find someone clinical in front of goal.
Meadow Lane will also welcome back Martin Allen who saved the club from relegation to League Two during his 10-month stint as Manager.
Barry Fuller takes on a Notts County defender at Priestfield
The only way to guarantee your seat in the stand for the visit of Swindon, and the other teams mentioned above, is to book your season ticket today using the link below.