GILLS LAY GHOST OF WEM­B­LEY WOE

Ked­well makes up for mis­ery as fan

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Jamie Holt

FOUR­TEEN years ago Danny Ked­well was at Wem­b­ley when Gilling­ham suf­fered the heart­break of last gasp play-off fi­nal de­feat to Manch­ester City.

Ked­well was born in the town, and he used to go to all the home games at Pri­est­field with his Un­cle Lewis from the age of seven on­wards, and later with friends in his teens.

He still re­mem­bers the days of Tony Pulis, Bob Tay­lor, Carl As­aba and Guy But­ters and that re­mark­able come­back by City in 1999 that ended in a penalty shootout de­feat for the Gills.

That feel­ing has never left Ked­well, now 29, but cel­e­brat­ing the club’s first league ti­tle for 49 years – af­ter a 2-2 draw with AFC Wim­ble­don clinched the League Two ti­tle – went some way to mak­ing up for it.

Much of his child­hood was spent on the Rain­ham End, and cel­e­brat­ing Gilling­ham’s pro­mo­tion with this new gen­er­a­tion of fans brought the mem­o­ries back.

“I was a reg­u­lar down there from the age of seven, go­ing with my Un­cle Lewis and cheer­ing them on,” said Ked­well.

“I went to pretty much ev­ery home game, and got to see the Man City game at Wem­b­ley. It was good just to get the chance to get pro­moted, but it was such a gut­ting way to lose.

“I think it’s one of them that you don’t mind los­ing, but to lose on penal­ties was gut­ting. We had a great side un­der Tony Pulis, it was dev­as­tat­ing not to go up but I think this has more than made up for it.

“It’s the club I sup­ported, it’s what I’ve al­ways wanted to do and it’s a dream come true.

Medal

“Be­ing a lo­cal lad it makes it ex­tra spe­cial for me. It’s the stuff you dream of as a kid to be on the same pitch and wear­ing a cham­pi­onship medal af­ter 50 years or so with­out one.

“I’ve had some great mem­o­ries down the years but this tops the lot.”

Ked­well has en­sured his name will live on at Pri­est­field, af­ter he he scored the win­ner against Torquay that se­cured pro­mo­tion back to the third tier and was on tar­get again in the draw with the Dons. And while the for­mer Welling United and Grays striker has never played in League One, he thinks the Gills can make it two ti­tles in a row un­der boss Martin Allen.

“The whole club is on a high, so we’re go­ing into League One full of con­fi­dence and we’re aim­ing to make it back-to-back pro­mo­tions,” added Ked­well, who scored 16 goals this sea­son.

“We need to make sure this mo­men­tum is car­ried for­ward. I’ll have a nice break with the fam­ily but I’ll be back next sea­son hop­ing to con­tinue in the same form.

“It will be my first time in League One, but I’m not ner­vous. I’ll be giv­ing it 100 per cent as ever and mak­ing sure I’m mak­ing that step up.

“We need to aim as high as we can, and Gilling­ham are a Cham­pi­onship club in my eyes any­way given the sup­port we have here. It would be great to get to that next level play­ing some re­ally big clubs.

“We’re cham­pi­ons and we’re go­ing out to get an­other one – when you’re do­ing well it stays with you.

“We didn’t re­ally know what the man­ager was about at the start of the sea­son and we cer­tainly didn’t ex­pect to have done as well as we have.

“It’s been quite a turn­around at the club. There was an aw­ful lot of work to be done, and he’s done a great job – we’ve been top for all but about two or three weeks so we thor­oughly de­serve the ti­tle.

“We’ve done it the right way. We’ve won pro­mo­tion as cham­pi­ons and it’s been a great ex­pe­ri­ence.”

UP-BEAT: Danny Ked­well cel­e­brates scor­ing the goal that clinched the ti­tle and sparked cel­e­bra­tions (be­low)

TOUGH: Keeper Nicky Weaver cel­e­brates Man City’s win

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