Tuesday, 28 April 2009

From Ecstacy to Despair

Wembley Stadium, May 30th 1999
My Dad and I were sat behind the goal Gillingham were attacking in the second half. Man City were favourites and had proved, over the course of the season, they were a much stronger outfit. I was 15 at the time and although i'd enjoyed watching Gillingham in the past, it was this game that really cemented in my mind that i wanted to be a Gills fan.
As the hour mark passed, most people's who weren't already doing so, began to chew their nails. With 10 minutes to go City had a good chance at the far end but Vince Bartram in the Gills goal was equal to it. From the resulting kick up field, the ball found its way through to Carl Asaba. He took a touch and beat his marker before looping the ball up and over an on rushing Nicky Weaver. Gillingham were in front. The noise was deafening. I remember having to stand on my chair to see the team celebrating down below us. The lady next to us was screaming at the top of her voice. For a life long fan, being on the brink of promotion to the second tier of english football for the first time was a very big deal!
4 minutes later and all nerves were put to bed when Robert Taylor burst through and blasted under the City keeper to put Gills 2-0 up and seemingly out of site. Having watched it back when we got home, Andy Gray, commentating on the game, said "and that's the goal that will see Gillingham into Division 1 next year".
Just 5 minutes later, the full time whistle blew. Our celebrations had stopped. Ecstacy had turned to despair in the matter of 3 small minutes. Kevin Horlock had scored what we hoped was just a consellation goal on 89 minutes but with the score board showing 92 minutes, Paul Dickov crashed the ball home to bring City back from the dead. Extra time finished and City won 3-1 on penalties. The reason i say that so quickly is because thats exactly how it felt. I've never been part of an atmosphere that changed so quickly... From the moment City scored their first, everything just seemed so sureal. They were going to equalise, everyone knew it. Blue moon echoed round the stadium emphasizing the silence between us.
We sat, exhausted, after the final whistle blew wondering what had just happened. I dont think we said a word to each other til we got home...

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