RainhamEndViews today caught up with Gillingham diehard James Loader to discuss his greatest ever Gillingham side and his hopes for the rest of the current campaign.
Twenty three year old James attended his first game as a four year old in 1995, and has been a regular since 1997, so he has 18 years of players to choose from when picking his side.
Here are his selections, set up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation:
GK – Jim Stannard: His defensive record during 1995-96 was incredible, and despite affectionately being nicknamed ‘Big Fat Jim’, his shot stopping and commanding presence will always make him a Gills favourite.
RB – Nayron Nosworthy: A youth academy product, Nayron very rarely had a bad game once he broke into the first team, and deservedly moved on to bigger things.
CB – Chris Hope: A very astute buy when the Gills went up into the Championship, he was rock solid at the back and popped up with his fair share of goals.
CB – Simon King: The cultured left footer played a massive part in the 2008-09 promotion winning campaign, and if he had not suffered with injuries he would surely have enjoyed a much longer and productive career.
LB – Roland Edge: Another academy product, Roland was a big part of the successful sides of the late nineties and early noughties. Played his best football while at the club, his career sadly declined after his move to Hibernian.
RM – Nicky Southall: Could have been included just for that goal versus Sheffield Wednesday, and another excellent servant of the Pulis/Taylor sides, Nicky’s expert delivery make him one of the best wide players to have graced Priestfield.
CM – Andy Hessenthaler: Quite simply ‘Mr Gillingham’. Limitless energy and a proper warrior, his battles with Sean Gregan in the late nineties will go down in Gills folklore, as will his Play-Off strike against Stoke City. A legend.
CM – Andrew Crofts: The third academy product in my eleven, Crofts had all the tools to be the complete central midfielder. His Gillingham career sadly ended on a somewhat sour note after falling out with then boss Mark Stimson.
LM – Matt Jarvis: Clearly always destined for bigger things, his pace and trickery made him a favourite with the Gills faithful. Deservedly and unsurprisingly his career has since made him an England international via Wolves and West Ham.
ST – Robert Taylor: During his final months at the club he was pretty much unplayable. Trebles versus Wrexham and Bristol City, plus an incredible five goals at Burnley, meant he was always going to move on, and a £1.5m move to Manchester City soon materialised.
ST – Cody McDonald: Perhaps not a technician in the mould of Taylor, he is however an out and out scorer. With him in the side you always feel that if he gets a chance he will stick it away. Could become a Gillingham great.
Out of all of his selections, James states that ‘Super Bob’ is his favourite. He remembers how Bob warmed up with him when he was a mascot in 1999, and that nothing was too much trouble for the big hit man. His partnership with Carl Asaba is another of James’ fondest Gills memories.
Regarding the rest of the current season, he hopes that the club continue to progress under Justin Edinburgh, and will be happy with a mid table finish.
You can follow James on Twitter @JSL5591