So who would have thought it? Seven games in and ‘little old Gillingham‘ are leading the way in League One.
An unbeaten starts to the campaign sees them sitting pretty at the top of the table, and it has been no fluke.
Pre-season favourites Sheffield United, Wigan and Bradford – plus Doncaster and Blackpool – have already all been sent packing as the boys in blue have collected 17 points from the first 21 available.
But how far can they actually go?
Manager Justin Edinburgh has understandably tried to keep a lid on any excitement and expectation levels being raised too much, but that will inevitably happen after such a start.
All in it together, but how far can the Gills go?
Statistically though, how does the Gills start actually stack up?
RainhamEndViews decided to investigate, and the results certainly bode well looking at recent history.
The Gills tally of 17 points after seven games cannot be bettered by any of the last eight League One winners.
In fact only Bristol City (2014-15) and Charlton (2011-12) can match their points total after the same period.
Of the last eight League One winners only the Robins (above) and Charlton can match the Gills’ points total at this stage.
Over the same period only Wolves (14 in 2013-14) and Charlton (14 in 2011-12) have netted more than Gillingham’s current tally of 13 goals, but they had both conceded more.
Defensively the boys from Kent also look very solid, having only shipped four times in their opening seven fixtures
Leicester City are the solitary side that can better that record, conceding just three times from their first seven fixtures on route to the 2008-09 title.
So that’s comparing the Gills’ current record to other sides who’ve recently gone on to win this division, but what about their own form in recent promotion winning seasons?
The last time they were promoted from the third tier – back in the 1999-00 season – Peter Taylor’s Gills managed to collect only nine points from the first 21 on offer.
They went on to finish 3rd in the table before seeing off Wigan 3-2 after extra time at Wembley, yet the current squad already have an extra eight points to that side.
More recently – on route to winning the League Two title in 2012-13 – Martin ‘Mad Dog‘ Allen masterminded a run of six wins and draw from the first seven league games of the season.
‘Mad Dog’ took 19 points from the first 21 on route to the 2012-13 League Two title.
In that period, the Gills netted 15 times while shipping only four at the other end.
Yes it was at a lower level, but it does illustrate the importance of a good start.
And then of course, we have to talk about the gaffer Justin Edinburgh, who has simply been a revelation since taking over.
He has now overseen 24 league fixtures since arriving in February, of which his side have won 12, and a 50% win ratio, at any level of the professional game, is not to be sniffed at.
On top of that he has only suffered four defeats, all of which were last term when he was still getting used to a squad that he had inherited.
This way to the top? Edinburgh has hit the ground running at the MEMS Priestfield.
Now, after a full pre-season at his disposal he has tweaked things a little, improving members of the existing squad by changing their position slightly, as well as bringing in his own staff and players to increase competition further.
There is now no so called ‘deadwood‘ in and around the club, because even though the group of first team players is perhaps smaller, it is much higher in terms of quality.
Brennan Dickenson – now thriving in his new left back role- has been a big improver this term.
Despite all this, results have still been better than perhaps even he could have imagined, as his side lead the way as summer turns into autumn.
His overall points per game ratio now stands at 1.83, enough to acquire 84 points over a full 46 game campaign.
If you compare that to the same previous eight League One seasons that have already been discussed, that tally would be enough to have finished 4th, 6th, 1st, 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th and 2nd.
It would also mean a 4th placed finish if compared to the 1999-00 campaign when the Gills last went up from this division.
Yes there is still a long way to go, and yes it is understandable that Justin is trying to keep the excitement contained, as only recently he has spoken of the need to take each game as it comes and to avoid complacency.
He is in charge of a young squad and doesn’t want to put any unwanted pressure on them.
It is inevitable that there will be disappointments as the season progresses, but statistically the Gills look set to be on course for something pretty special.
Just how special remains to be seen, but it is going to be fun finding out.
The excitement is rising……
UP THE GILLS!!