Priestfield Stadium underwent extensive redevelopment during the late 1990s, which brought the capacity down from nearly 20,000 to a current figure of 11,582. All stands have been re-constructed since 1997, although one is still only of a temporary uncovered nature. This houses the away fans. The Medway Stand runs alongside the pitch and offers a fantastic view of the action from all areas, as does the Rainham End behind the goal. The Gordon Road stand running parallel to the Medway Stand, was the first to be redeveloped and comes complete with approximately 8 pillars, all arranged to block your view, if you're toward the back, of at least one of the goals.
Visiting supporters are housed in the Brian Moore stand behind one of the goals. The stand is temporary and without a roof although of quite a decent size. It's cold and wet during the winter so don't forget your coats. The view from this stand is quite impressive at this level with 3 relatively new builds to peruse.
Priestfield Stadium seating plan:
In the town centre, the Will Adams pub offers a good place for both home and away fans to mix. It offers a lot of friendly banter and a pint while you're at it. The only pub which is a home fans only pub is The Cricketers in Sturdee Avenue. This should be avoided by away fans. Also recommended is the Livingstone Arms as an away fans pub. They also provide a selection of free food.
There are plenty of restaurants and takeaways to choose from in the town centre with a pretty decent selection located on the High Street if you fancy something a little more substantial to eat. The Eel Pie Island cafe which can be found on the right as you walk through the high street away from the ground is a particularly popular place before the game and serves a mean double pie and mash with gravy!
Parking is very much restricted in the local area, although you don't have to drive far away to find non-resident only street parking. Arrive in plenty of time and you'll get parked within a 5 minute walk of the ground.
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The nearest / closest train station to Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium is Gillingham and is served by High Speed Javelin trains from London St Pancras International (25 and 55 minutes past every hour) and London Victoria (22 and 52 minutes past every hour). There are a number of slow speed trains that also serve the station from both of these and 2 further from Charing Cross at 9 and 39 minutes past every hour on Saturdays. Simon Chaplin tells me: A return will set you back approximately £15 although on the South Eastern line you can use Groupsave where 4 people can travel for the price of two provided they all travel together.
From the station, the walk up to Priestfield will take just under 10 minutes. From the station, turn left into Balmoral Road. When you reach the end of the road and come to a crossroads (ignoring the T-Junction which doesn't count!) you will see a road straight ahead of you - Priestfield Road. The ground is situated at the top of this road with the visitors turnstiles at the far end.
Rivals - Charlton, Millwall, Swindon
Travel: I travelled down to Kings Cross by train from Doncaster using Hull Trains, which was the cheapest. The buffet had an excellent bottle of Newsome ale on sale. The train was late so I missed my planned connection from St. Pancras. There is a half hourly service which takes 45 minutes.
Refreshments: I met my friend in Rochester, which is two stops and 7 minutes from Gillingham on the train. He had been in a Wetherspoons and saw a few Barnsley fans in there. I know some coaches stopped off at Gravesend. We went to the Coopers Arms, a fantastic old pub which serves several real ales. We were the only football fans in there as most use pubs on the High Street. As I was late, we didn't get a chance to visit any more Rochester pubs, unfortunately. We got a train at about 2 pm to Gillingham to visit the Past and Present micropub. It's the opposite direction from the ground as you leave the train station, but worth finding if you like real ale. There was a good mix of home and away fans and friendly service. We set off for the ground about 2.40 pm and arrived just in time for kick off.
Impressions: The open away end is okay if it's not raining, but it seems strange walking under the scaffolding to access your seat. The other three sides of the ground look fine for League 1. Some Barnsley fans were in a small seated area to our right. These were only available to families, disabled and older fans.
Atmosphere: The stewarding was unobtrusive. As usual, we were patted down outside. Barnsley took 800 fans, which I thought was a bit disappointing, but over 1500 had bought tickets for the following away trip to Portsmouth, so they were obviously choosing games.
Barnsley scored straight from the kick off. 15 seconds to be exact! By half time it was 2-0 and should have been more. It wasn't easy to see the action at the far end of the ground. It seemed a long way off, but I'm used to watching from the halfway line. Barnsley made it 3-0 in the second half before the Gills pulled one back.
Barnsley striker Keiffer Moore clashed heads accidentally with a Gills defender and was stretchered off after a 12 minute delay. Barnsley made it 1-4 in the 101st minute. It's suggested that meant they had scored the earliest and latest away goals in the club's history. The Reds fans were jubilant. Gill's fans were understandably subdued. I rarely have refreshments in the ground so I can't comment. The toilet facilities were adequate for the number of away fans.
Exit: It was an easy ten-minute walk to the train station for the 17.21 back to St.Pancras.
Enjoy: A good day out. Obviously, the result helped, but the injury to Keiffer Moore did take the shine off it. The journey was fine and not too long. Rochester looked good with the Castle and Cathedral.
Ground Name: Priestfield Stadium
Capacity: 11,582 (all seated)
Address: Redfern Ave, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 4DD
Main Tel No.: 01634 300000
Team Nickname: The Gills
Year Ground Opened: 1893