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The Priestfield Stadium. The home of Gillingham football club. Whom have just been re-promoted to League 1 via the play offs after 1 season in League 2.
Last season on one cold weekend me and 2 mates decided for something to do we would get a print out of every football game that was playing that day and put them all into a hat and pick one out and try to get tickets to it. The hat stitched us up, we drew Gillingham V Cheltenham. Gillingham 5th from bottom in League 1 against Cheltenham 3rd from bottom on league 1. It had all the ingredients to be a complete waste of time. A 4 hour round trip and a rubbish game of football with a score line of, Yes you have probably guessed it 0-0, my early thoughts of how how my Saturday afternoon would pan out was agonizingly correct :(
Anyway my review isn't about that stupid hat of mine and the lack of goals, it is about the stadium, which to be honest, wasn't a heap a better - OK maybe that is a little bit to harsh as last season they were playing league 2 football so this ground is probably one of the better, but as a league 1 ground is was and will be again this season, very average.
The stadium has obviously 4 stands. A nice size stand with a great view behind one goal named the Rainham stand. That is where I sat. It was modern looking, adequate leg room with a good view. The stand is one tier high but goes back quite a long way making it a nice stand.
To the right of that stand is the called the Medway stand. It is classed as a 2 tier stand, but in truth the to part of the stand is probably no more than about 10 rows. In this stand it has the directors boxes and vip areas. This stand is quite smart looking but still maybe slightly on the small side for the main stand.
Opposite to the Medway stand is the Gordon Road stand. This stand is an old stand been moderinised. It is very small and only holds 2,600 people.
The stand behind the other goal, and where the away fans are situated is called Town End. This stand is temporary, but its been there for a few years now. It really lets the whole stadium down as it has no roof on it. This must make it extremely hard for away fans to create an atmosphere and must be freezing in the winter!
I stayed in the Rainham Stand behind the goal. The facilities were good. Large toilets, only one for the whole stand though, and a big area to stand in to keep warm near the food stands. They have the nicest tasting burgers I have ever tasted at a football ground too, but I could have sworn they were the rustler burgers just in a different wrapper.
The ground is situated right next to the train station which makes it handy, but as we drove we had to find a car park, which we found for £5 - standard for any football ground, and it was fenced in and looked safe with some friendly staff too. It was about a 10 minute walk to the ground but again that's pretty standard for most football grounds.
The ticket price was £15 which I would think is about right for a League 1 game.
This stadium I feel needs the temporary stand finished, or atleast put some sort of roof on it. As Gillingham enter League 1, which is getting a better and better league with bigger and better stadiums, such as Leeds, Mk Dons, Norwich, Charlton and Southampton who's grounds hold up to 30,000 people, this stadium is streaks apart from the likes of them holding 11,500. At very best its an average League 1 ground, Not suitable for a higher standard of football than that which only a few season ago they used to be in.
As a travelling fan I can only comment on the facilities, or should I say lack of, provided for away supporters. From the station you have a 15-20 min walk to the ground. The ground has few pubs close to it, however we did not find one allocated for away fans. When entering the ground, from the side which we came you have to walk directly in front of the entrance to the home supporters and then you walk down an alley way which is two man wide. Safety hazard no. 1. The day I visited was when Fulham played them 3 seasons ago in Div 2. As an away fan you will share half of the end of the stand with Gillingham supporters. Who decided to throw coins and plastic bottles at us towards the end of the match even though they were winning 2-0. The police made little, if no effort to find the offenders. It was apparent there would be a fight, and a Police officer, I repeat a Police officer told one of our fans "Go fight in the town, we won't nick ya down there" I couldn't believe it. Violence does happen at football matches and I'm not shocked about that but surely police should take better responsability for their actions. When we vacated the ground we were forced to use the same alley that we used when we entered. Which brought us to a bottle neck with Gillingham supporters and the inevitable sparked and one fan lost his life. He was only in his 30's and this is the 90's hooliganism is a thing of the past. I took refuge behind a police van to avoid missles aimed at us. Then i pushed my way back down the alley way. The ground itself is very small, rather shabby and lacking of facilities. The terraces are steep. The view from our angle was deceptive. However the pitch was in great condition considering Brighton were ground sharing at the time.
Priestfield Stadium, to be known formally as The krbs Priestfield Stadium from 1 June 2007, is the home stadium of English association football club Gillingham. It is located in Gillingham, Kent.