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|The 1890's||1900's >|
Apart from various Cup competitions the clubs first ever season consisted mainly of friendly games. The first visitors to Priestfield were Woolwich Arsenal who won the game 5-1 with Harry Buckland getting the home teams consolation. The clubs first ever FA Cup game was a 3-6 defeat away to Ilford. In May 1894 it was decided that the club would enter the newly formed Southern League the following season and in doing so would turn professional.
1894-95 Southern Lge Div 2
Position 1st (out of 7)
The first season in the Southern League was a resounding success as they won 11 out of 12 games to finish the campaign as the Division 2 champions. However in order to be promoted to Division 1 they still had to beat Swindon Town in a Test match played at Caversham. The Gills comfortably won the game 5-1 though with 4 of the goals coming from leading scorer Arthur Rule.
1895-96 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 6th (out of 10)
The standard of football in Division 1 proved to be much better than the previous season but the team coped fairly well finishing just below mid table. There were some strange results along the way though - losing 8-0 at Millwall and 8-1 at Luton while beating Ilford 9-1 and Clapton Orient 6-0. Dave Hutcheson was the clubs leading scorer with 8 goals.
1896-97 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 8th (out of 12)
Much of this season was spent in the lower half of the table and relegation was a distinct possibility now that the bottom 3 teams would have to play test matches to see who would go down. However a good finish to the season meant they finished above Northfleet by just 2 points.
1897-98 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 6th (out of 12)
A better season this as the club finished in the top half of Division 1 for the first time. Chatham born Syd King made 19 appearances at right back during the season. He later went on to sign for West Ham, firstly as a player and then as manager for nearly 30 years leading them to the first Wembley FA Cup final in 1923.
1898-99 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 6th (out of 14)
An excellent start to the season saw the club in 2nd place at the beginning of January. However 7 points from the last 13 games meant they would end up in 6th place. The home match with Millwall had to be played at Woolwich as Priestfield was closed due to crowd trouble in the Sheppey Utd game. New custodian Charlie Bunyan was better known as the keeper who let in 26 goals in the Preston v Hyde FA Cup tie 11 years earlier. However he proved to more than capable as the defence only conceded 30 goals all season. He later went on to manage the Belgium national team as well as Standard Liege and Anderlecht.
1899-1900 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 11th (out of 17)
The team never recovered from a poor start to the campaign and ended 5th from bottom. However the main story of the season came in the FA Cup and the 5 game marathon with Woolwich Arsenal which they eventually won thanks to a James Atherton goal.