So that’s that then.
Another nine months of thrills and spills, highs and lows have flown by in what seems an instant.
It only seems like yesterday that the MEMS Priestfield was basked in sunshine as the boys in blue annihilated Sheffield United back in August.
From that to how the campaign ended was certainly a case of one extreme to the other.
In the immediate aftermath of last Sunday’s home defeat to Millwall – Gills’ fourth home reverse on the bounce – my immediate feelings were of frustration, anger and disappointment.
How had we ended up in this situation, this position?
I covered most of the potential whys and wherefores in my season review piece, but my attitude now is what has happened has happened.
Yes we must learn from it and improve from it, but we cannot change it.
This article is about taking a closer look at how each player fared over the season as a whole.
*My half term ratings are in brackets, with the overall rating immediately after them*
Stuart Nelson (9) 8.5: Generally solid and reliable throughout the course of the whole campaign, Nels has earned himself an offer of a new deal. Seemed to single handedly keep his side in some games, the one major blot on his copybook was the error at Wigan in January which allowed them back into the game. Had we won that match, who knows how the season may have ended?
Ryan Jackson (9) 8: Almost flawless during the first half of the season, his energetic displays were a joy to watch having made the step up from League 2. As the Gills started to struggle though, so did he with injury and form. A niggling knee problem halted his momentum, and after that he seemed content to play safe. A solid debut campaign though nonetheless.
Bradley Garmston (7.5) 7: Has never really hit the heights of his loan spell since signing permanently in the summer. He and Brennan Dickenson challenged each other well for the left back spot, but in truth Garmston’s entire season seems to have been stop start and frustrating. A mixed bag.
Brennan Dickenson (7.5) 7.5: Having reinvented himself as an attacking full back this season – and starting off as first choice – it was a shock to hear of Brennan’s release. Was learning the game defensively, and although not the finished article he was always a threat going forward with his first class delivery from wide areas.
John Egan (8.5) 8: Another season of consistency from the Gills’ best defender, but even he wasn’t immune to a slight drop in form as the team struggled during 2016. An ill timed injury meant he missed a key period, and upon his return he wasn’t able to arrest a slide that had become somewhat irretrievable.
Max Ehmer (7) 7.5: Couldn’t buy himself a game at the start of the season due to the form of others, but over the recent months – and when others around him were struggling – he has been an absolute rock at the heart of the defence. Back to the same high levels of his 2014-15 loan spell, he will become even more key in future with Egan’s departure now confirmed.
Josh Wright (9) 8: While it was always going to be tough to maintain the high standards of the first few months, Josh remained one of the few constants during a tricky second half of the season. Never shirked responsibility, and even took on the skippers’ armband in some games, it was great to see him net his first goal in the March victory over Crewe.
Aaron Morris (8) 8: Mr Versatile and Mr Consistent was just that throughout the whole season. Whether asked to play in midfield, at right back or in central defence he just went about his work tirelessly and efficiently. One of the real success stories of the campaign, it is great to see him offered a new contract.
Jake Hessenthaler (8.5) 7.5: Was deemed by some to be surplus to requirements at the start of the campaign, but he knuckled down and really stepped out of the shadows. Perhaps a victim of the club’s loss of form in the new year, he found himself in and out of the side, but was never founded wanting for effort or desire when called upon.
Doug Loft (7) 6.5: His recent release may have been a bit of a shock to some, but his season has been somewhat wrecked by injuries and inconsistency. Every time he seemed to be turning a corner he took two steps back. Another who couldn’t be faulted for heart or desire, but at times it seemed the captaincy was a hindrance rather than a help.
Emmanuel Osadebe (7.5) 7: Will be able to look back on his first season in the professional game with pride. He has played more times than he surely envisaged when arriving, and his infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy has been a joy to watch. Hasn’t featured so much during the recent struggles – perhaps no bad thing in the long run – but the Goal of the Season award has capped a fine campaign.
Jermaine McGlashan (6) 5.5: Has had one of those seasons that every professional must dread. Less than ten starts, Glash sadly just didn’t fit into Justin Edinburgh’s favoured systems. His professionalism cannot be questioned one bit, but it is no surprise that the flying winger has been released.
Bradley Dack (9) 8.5: The Gills’ long haired genius has been a total revelation with goals and assists in abundance. He never looked back after his opening day screamer, and deservedly picked up every award that came his way at the end of the season. If he is to depart in the summer, then his final day lap of honour – stopping for photos with everyone and anyone – shows a touch of class about the man as well as the player.
Cody McDonald (6.5) 6.5: A season of frustration for one of Gills all time favourites, with injuries regularly picked up at the wrong time. No pre season meant he was always playing catch up, and then when he looked to be getting going be broke his foot in December. A return in the spring was too late in terms of the teams promotion bid, but the big positive was Cody looking sharp, netting versus Burton and Shrewsbury.
Luke Norris (8) 7.5: Seems to be the clubs ‘marmite’ player as some love him, and some cannot stand him. Started in super fashion, netting three and being involved in plenty more as the boys made a blistering start. An ankle injury halted his progress in the autumn, but after taking his time to regain his place he went on a little run in the spring, netting three as March turned into April. Will hope to kick on even further next term.
Rory Donnelly (7.5) 6.5: When he’s hot he’s very hot, but he will need to try and find more consistency next season. Rory went ten goalless games before opening his account, but then netted six in his next four including that chip versus Fleetwood. That preceded another barren spell of twelve matches before he scored four in three games at the end of January. Sadly that was it in terms of goals, as he ended the season with none in his final 14 appearances, often finding himself reduced to a substitute role. Plenty of potential to work with though.
Dominic Samuel (8) 7: Five goals in his first ten games then only two in his final fifteen, Samuel’s season seemed to mirror that of the Gills. Upon his arrival he was sharp and quick, looking a constant threat against anyone. Sadly though he seemed to hit a bit of a wall, and as the clubs form dropped so did his, with everything looking a lot harder when no longer playing on instinct. A decent enough loan spell, but another who will want to add consistency to his natural talent.
Deji Oshilaja (8) 7: Superb from the word go upon his arrival in August, he immediately forged an understanding with John Egan as the Gills started in scintillating fashion. Much like the side though, his second half to the season didn’t quite hit the same heights, but being played out of position at right back towards the end of the campaign certainly didn’t help.
Special mentions have to go to Jordan Houghton (7) and Harry Lennon (8.5) who both played a huge part in the clubs very impressive start to the season, they were both first class all the while with us.
Adam El-Abd (7.5) was a much needed experienced head during his time with us, and I for one would love to see him return permanently.
While we never really saw the best of George Williams (6.5), Andrew Crofts (5.5) or Adam Chicksen (5.5) during their loan spells, their efforts are still surely appreciated, as are those of both Ben Williamson and Glenn Morris, both of whom didn’t get as much game time as they would have hoped.
On top of that the likes of Elliot List and Darren Oldaker will be looking to get even more involved next term having been in and around the first team at various stages.
So there we go, another season done and dusted.
I am sure not everyone will agree with all of my ratings, but I can only say it how I see it.
Any discussion is welcome, that’s the beauty of this game that we all love.
UP THE GILLS!!