Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Surviving at Stoke

Sunday May 9th 2004

So it all came down to this. An entire season being judged as a success or failure rested on what happened in the 90 minutes at Stoke and how Walsall fared against Rotherham.

We were 2 points clear of Walsall in the relegation places with a 2 goal better goal difference. The nerves before the game were simply unbearable. It was probably the quietest i've ever heard Gills fans for the full 90 minutes.

The game itself was a bit of a non event. Stoke were a good team and we knew holding them out was our main objective. There were a few chances but the game finished 0-0 meaning it all came down to how Walsall were doing. We'd heard many different scores and rumours from the game throughout but the last we heard was that Walsall were ahead 3-2. Someone from the top of the stand behind us let out an almighty sigh. We all thought Walsall had scored again and chinese whispers from the top of the stand reached us to say they had. The mood changed again. There wasn't a lot of excitement anyway but for those few seconds when we thought we were going down, my Dad and I just looked at each other with the knowing look and wondered just how long this drive home was going to be...

A guy sitting 2 rows behind us then started the loudest cheer i've ever heard from one man and we knew that either Rotherham had scored again or the rumour from the back of the stadium was rubbish and Walsall were still only 3-2 up. They hadn't scored again. 3-2 was confirmed as the final score and the celebrations began. We'd stayed up on goal difference on the final day. Very, very emotional scenes with fans crying and smiling at the same time.

The long road home didn't seem so long after that..

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