Neil Harris previews the visit of AFC Wimbledon in Sky Bet League 2.
For a Gillingham fan there is no better sight than watching The Rainham End erupt in raucous pandemonium… and it’s been happening quite a lot recently.
MEMS Priestfield Stadium has once again become a furnace of noise, passion and excitement and Neil Harris says his players will be ‘giving everything for the shirt’ as they aim for a fourth home win on the spin.
Ahead of back-to-back fixtures at ME7, Wimbledon visiting on Saturday, followed by Bradford on Tuesday, the Gillingham manager sat down with the local press to discuss the Dons, speak about the importance of home fans and reflect on the sad passing of a national treasure famed for his sheepskin coat and microphone, the uniquely gifted sports commentator, John Motson.
Wimbledon at the weekend
“I’m probably a little surprised they aren’t higher up the division but they have had a tough run of fixtures and some credible draws against sides at the top. They have some good players, they added well in the last two transfer windows, in the summer and January. It’s another tough challenge for us.
“I am sure their manager Johnnie Jackson would like a couple more of those draws to be turned into victories and I am sure they will be looking for a victory to try and chase that play-off dream.
“For us, we just want to keep the momentum and the feel-good factor going and to keep winning games.”
Home fans make a big difference
“We are full of confidence and looking forward to the game. There will be a big attendance and a great atmosphere.
“I bumped into some fans this morning in the street and they were buzzing to pick their tickets up. We have had three wins in a row here.
“The next two opponents are going to be our toughest yet, no disrespect to the previous three, so we have to continuously raise our levels. Our home fans are going to play a massive part.
“I have a group of lads who are hungry and have a desire to win games of football. We are enjoying ourselves.”
The sad passing of John Motson
“I have met him many times, live games and the FA Cup in particular. Over two years out of three I had quarter-final appearances with Millwall and six games live on TV and John covered five of them.
“He is an absolute class act and an absolute pleasure to talk to. He is a legend and it has been a pleasure to listen to him, meet the man and spend time in his company.
“There is a great aura about him. It’s a sad passing and my thoughts go to his family.”
Long-term plans at MEMS Priestfield
“There is a lot of work to be done at the moment and a lot of work to be done on the training pitch currently on the way we want to play with and without the ball.
“I still see a lot that I don’t like about our play that needs developing. We keep having to make adjustments at half-time and giving reminders. It just comes with time and being patient but I don’t want us to stand still.
“It’s important that I remember that we are a new group, but we have started really well. We are building for the future. Short term is, yes, get points quickly and make sure we get enough to stay in the division. Then by summer we need to reassess the transfer window because we have players out of contract and we need to add to the group accordingly to build for next season.”