Evans wants fans back and soon
Evans wants fans back and soon

Steve Evans this week conceded that Gillingham now are unlikely to make the play-offs after their AFC Wimbledon “bogey” struck again, but also admiited he wanted fans back in stadiums.

In now seventeen meetings with “original” Dons since they reformed, the Gills have registered just three wins – a fact that the manager admitted had cropped up in conversations this week with Chairman Paul Scally.

“The Chairman said that to me on Wednesday morning,” the manager told his press briefing this week. “He said that he sat there at the game and despite all the play heading towards the home goal, he always felt that something could happen at the other end – and it did!”

“I think that there are teams that come across others where it does happen, but we really did do enough in that second half performance – and we were very good in spells – to win the game comfortably!”

“They’ve got a manager who’s just making his way in the game and he said to me afterwards that they’d robbed us, but quite rightly, he’ll take it! If he gets that lucky, he’ll be manager of a Premier League side soon,” the Gills boss added, “I don’t know if he knew I was joking!”

“It happens at every level from the big clubs in the Premier League – they have trouble dealing with clubs that don’t want to go and play ball. Just look at them when they go to a club like Burnley and that’s the same all the way through the divisions! I was talking to Grant McCann and he said the same about other teams that he’s played recently… No one can put their finger on it…”

The Gills boss conceded that frustration levels in recent weeks have been growing at Priestfield. He said, “The frustration has been growing. I think we know what we’re capable of.  I think that we were all frustrated after the first half against Peterborough and then you see them get two goals in four or five minutes that completely change the game, so I think those frustrations came out.”

“As I’ve always said to the players, when you play against the best players – against the Peterborough’s, the Hull’s, the Portsmouth’s – they’ve got individuals who on any given day who can do something magical and win you the game.”

“What we have to be sure of is when we dominate games, we have to win those games – thing is we’ve dominated games since January and ended up taking a point or nothing, and that’s the big frustration when it comes to our consistency!”

Some supporters have pointed to the lack of fans for the club’s inconsistent home form in particular – it’s a point that the Gills boss has regularly raised during this strangest of seasons.

The return of home fans is unlikely this season following the latest Government announcements this week, and Evans was asked about the possibility of fans returning for 2021/2022 – he had this warning. “If we’re not up and running with our supporters then I think there’s a big problem coming in football.”

“Society will go where it needs to go with the Prime Minister making that decision with all the scientists and the medical advice as far too many loved ones have been lost.”

Solemnly, the Gills boss went on, “I attended a funeral on zoom this week of a family member who’s passed because of the virus and it’s dreadful. But we want supporters back – I think the country needs to be out and about and people need to get some freedom.”

“I think there’s enough restrictions carrying on, but we do need to do it the right way and I think that football in particular has a real problem if we’re not lining up come next August supporters in the stadiums – I think that football has a financial massive, massive issue.”

“I think that at the moment people still have their interest up – dads, grandads, mums, aunties – they’ve kept the kids’ interest in the game. But I think that if we were to go another season, or part of a season, with no fans, I think that people will get out of the habit of going to games and I think that that’s true of a lot of things at the moment – not everyone, but most people live by habit!”

“The golfers who meet up at half seven on a Saturday morning with their mates; go for a pint on a Thursday night with your mates as it’s the night your wife allows you to go; that’s the type of thing that we live for.”

“Do we live on a Saturday morning going to Priestfield or travelling with the Gills – yes, we do, and we don’t want to lose that generation and it’s these kids from anywhere from five or six up to late teens that we do not want to lose to the game as they are absolutely invaluable for us. If we lose them, football has a real problem!”