Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Gonk and Dork go to a football match

Written with Vicky Perry.

Dominic's Review (Dork)
First of all, I have a confession to make. I'm not a football fan and don't support any particular football team, and prior to writing this article, had never been to a football match before in my life. I haven't supported a football team since I lived in Edinburgh as a wee boy and supported Hibernian Football Club. So when Vicky asked me if I would be interested in going to watch a football game with her, I had rather mixed feelings. On the one hand I knew little about the game and didn't follow it, but on the other hand it was something new to me and so would be a new experience. Also, the game would be played at Sincil Bank stadium in Lincoln where I used to live. The teams playing would be Lincoln vs Gillingham (Vicky's beloved football team, and the team she would would be supporting). As I would be sitting with Vicky in the Away stand, I too would therefore also be supporting Gillingham - even if only for one day.

The match was to take place on Saturday 9th April with kick off at 3pm. The weather was warm and bright and perfect for watching a game of football. I had no idea what to expect. I'd seen plenty of footage of football matches on the TV before. As we walked through the town centre towards the football stadium, the police presence was highly visible. Were they expecting mass street brawls?

I was actually looking forward to watching my first ever football match by this time. Walking through the town centre, there was a sea of red and white Lincoln football tops to be seen, interspersed with several blue and black Gillingham football tops.

We entered the stadium at the Away end, and made our way to the stands to get our seats. As I sat down, I could see the team warming up on the pitch next to the Away stand. We got there in plenty of time, so had time to watch the team warming up, stretching, taking shots at the goal and the like.

Eventually the teams came out onto the pitch in their proper kit, to a cheer of loud approval from both sides of the stadium. It became clear to me quite quickly that the rowdier, more vocal section of the stand were all sitting at the back. They sang, chanted and cheered almost continuously throughout the entire game. Despite this though, the banter was always good natured, never intimidating. There was a good mix of age groups in the crowd. Dads and Mums with their children, groups of friends, young and old couples. I have to say that I found the atmosphere to be really friendly. An older couple were sat next to us, and were clearly having a great time cheering on their team, and chatted to myself and Vicky. I'm sure Vicky may add something else here in her description of the game at this point :-)

I won't pretend to know the names of all the players, and who scored the goals. Despite that, I found myself really gettig into the spirit of the game, and feeling the energy and excitement of the crowd. Each time Gillingham scored, it was hard not to join in with the excitement and cheer loudly with everyone else, which is exactly what I did. Each time Gillingham scored, I stood up and cheered as loudly as I could. It was a great feeling, and I can understand why so many people enjoy going to watch football matches.

In the end, the final score was 4-0 to Gillingham. The Away team had well and truly beaten the Home team, and the Away fans were all more than happy at such a fantastic result. I felt happy too, despite not having watched a game before in my life.

I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The atmosphere was good natured, with many children and families present. I fully took part and got carried away with the spirit of the crowd. I would definitely go to another football match again!

Vicky's Review (Gonk)
I have been excited about this fixture ALL season (well - since we dropped back down to League 2) because it is in the City I live in - Lincoln. I won't say my 'hometown' as I still see Cuxton where I grew up (not far from Gillingham) as my hometown. Of course I was NEVER going to miss this fixture - my first away game in fact (except for the League 1 play-offs at Wembley in 2009 which isn't technically an away game).

I was so excited on the day - as I know Dom was. It was great seeing a match with a non-football fan, as it meant that he had an open mind and I could influence him to support my team! He did refuse to wear last season's shirt though - he said it was because he wasn't a true 'fan', but I secretly think it's because it wasn't pink!

We chose to sit about 8 rows from the pitch - a cracking view of the game and of the Gillingham lads warming up.

My pre-match prediction was a 2-1 win for Gillingham - I predicted that Lincoln would score first and the Gills would equalise by half time, and then clinch a win in the 2nd half. How very wrong I was! It was so much better!

From the start, Gillingham seemed to have more possession, even though the official stats say it was 50/50. I think it seemed that we had more because we actually scored!

Gowling was the first to score in the twentieth minute. The away stand erupted into celebratory chants. There seemed to be constant chanting from the back of our stand, which is great as it spurs the players on. A few times when Danny Spiller, who is still playing with a very nasty broken finger, came to the touchline fans shouted 'Spills, Spills' and Danny gave us all the thumbs up.

McDonald, who recently said he wants to stay at Priestfield next season instead of returning to his parent club Norwich City, scored a beaut of a goal in the 41st minute, taking his season tally up to 23. McDonald is now the joint 2nd top scorer in League 2 this season.

During half time, Dom bought me a much needed hot chocolate - the away stand was in the shade so it turned a tad chilly.

McDonald was unlucky not to be awarded the Gills' 3rd goal in the 59th minute, as his well-aimed shot was deflected in by Lincoln's Danny Hone, so it went down as an own goal. The atmosphere was electric and we only had to wait another 10 minutes until the Gills' 4th goal, courtesy of Adebayo Akinfenwa's header. By now we knew the Imps couldn't catch us. We were singing 'we want 5, we want 5'.

As the ref blew the full time whistle, we all erupted into cheers and applause which seemed to echo round Sincil Bank. What could be better.....a massive away win adding to our 15 match unbeaten run and moving back up into the League 1 play off places. A perfect Saturday afternoon!

Up the Gills!

View match highlights here

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