Last updated at 10:41, Saturday 11th August 2012

Scally unleashes Mad Dog

Mike Holden

Play-off near-misses haven't spared Gillingham legend Andy Hessenthaler from the axe, now it's Martin Allen who picks up reins at Priestfield.

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Stability **

Paul Scally has been the owner and chairman at Gillingham since 1995 but he seems to be going round in circles as he attempts to recreate early success. Scally oversaw the Gills' ascent to the second tier at the turn of the century but the club has been in steady decline since 2004, having overspent prior to the collapse of ITV Digital. Andy Hessenthaler was sacked in the summer, yet was then offered a position on the board and will now monitor Martin Allen's attempts to do better.

Control ***

Allen is gaining a reputation as football's equivalent of the defibrilator, a man capable of delivering a much-needed jolt to the system of any ailing lower league club. But it comes at the expense of his credibility as a long-term option and this might well be his final chance to set the record straight on that score. The quirky Londoner is now in the ninth job since starting out at Barnet nine years ago, yet he has never really built anything to rival his early feats at Brentford.

Mood **

Gillingham fans have become increasingly disenchanted with their chairman, although many also seem to appreciate the lack of apparent alternatives. Scally has never been one to shy away from controversy but a never-ending sequence of court battles, industrial disputes and public squables have left the Priestfield faithful feeling rather tired and embarrassed. Meanwhile, ambitions also appear to be on the wane. This will be Gillingham's third season back in the basement and many now seem resigned to the idea that there could be a few more to come.

Development ***

The Priestfield board deliberated for nearly two months between Hessenthaler's dismissal and Allen's appointment. It was a delay that ensured they were totally convinced about their choice, but it also denied Allen the chance to pick the best fruit on the market. The Gills operate to an above-average budget but geography puts them at a disadvantage. After successive eighth-placed finishes, Allen doesn't have to improve them by much to reach the play-offs, which would be the target of most rational appraisals.


Deon Burton (Gabala), Stuart Nelson (Notts County), Ben Strevens (Wycombe), Tommy Forecast (Southampton), Tom Flanagan (MK Dons), Charlie Allen (Notts County).


Paulo Gazzaniga (Southampton), Simon King (Inverness), Dennis Oli (Wycombe), Garry Richards (Luton), Danny Spiller (Luton), Dean Rance (Dover).

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