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Neil O'Donnell (1949 - 2022)

Former midfielder passes away at the age of 72.

27 May 2022

The club is saddened to learn of the passing of former player, Neil O'Donnell.

It was announced on 26 May that former Gillingham midfielder Neil O’Donnell had passed away at the age of 72.

He began his career in 1966 with Norwich City, for whom he made 64 appearances, scoring three goals, and he was a member of the club’s squad that lifted the Second Division title in 1972. He also won Scottish youth honours during his time at Carrow Road.

Neil left City to join the Gills in the summer of 1974, one of our new manager Len Ashurst’s first signings. He made his début for the club in the 2-2 home draw against Walsall on Saturday 17 August 1974, the opening day of the 1974-5 season, our first fixture back in the third tier following promotion at the end of the previous campaign.

O’Donnell struggled to hold down a regular first team place and, when Ashurst resigned in October 1975 in order to become manager at Sheffield Wednesday, the midfielder also left and moved to Hillsborough, his Gillingham career having comprised of 18 starts in the league and six appearances as a substitute, and four League Cup ties, and he never scored a goal for us.

Neil made his début for the Owls on 5 November 1975, in a 1-0 home win against the Gills. His first appearance for his new club had been at Walsall the previous Saturday, a game that had been abandoned during the first half, due to a rain-ravaged pitch.

O’Donnell made 47 appearances during his time at Wednesday, scoring two goals, but was forced to retire in January 1977 due to a bad back injury and he was awarded a testimonial match against former club Norwich. After hanging up his boots, O’Donnell continued to reside in Sheffield and managed Sunday League side Signpost FC before working for a major finance company.


Gillingham Football Club would like to express their condolences to Neil’s family and friends at this sad time.

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