Wrexham’s owners, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, will soon witness a surprising sight when they visit the away end of League Two club, Gillingham. While Luton Town’s away end has already gained attention as they strive for promotion to the Premier League, Gillingham’s section for traveling fans is equally eccentric and noteworthy.
Despite Wrexham’s hopes of leaving behind non-league style stadiums after their promotion this season, the reality of League Two means encountering an away end that has captivated the curiosity of visiting fans in the English Football League (EFL) over the years. Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium has been situated in the heart of the town since its establishment in 1893.
The stadium underwent redevelopment in the late 1990s, with three permanent all-seater stands constructed. However, the fourth stand, located behind one of the goals, remains temporary to this day, bearing the name of the late football commentator and Gillingham fan, Brian Moore.
While plans existed for a covered away end with a seating capacity of 3,200, financial constraints necessitated the installation of a temporary stand instead. Today, Gillingham’s away end accommodates 3,400 fans, surpassing the capacities of most away stands in League Two.
The spaciousness proved beneficial when hosting teams with significant followings such as Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland in League One. Unfortunately, the experience for visiting fans sitting in the scaffold stand has not always been ideal, particularly when rain descends. The stand lacks a roof, exposing fans to the elements. It consists of a sizable piece of scaffolding, featuring a handful of stairways leading to faded blue seats, accessible from the concourse below.
From this vantage point, fans can observe those ascending the stairs or lingering on the concourse beneath them. Furthermore, spectators positioned at the top or edges of the stand can catch glimpses of neighboring gardens, as terrace houses border the parameters.
The stand’s considerable height makes it unsuitable for individuals with acrophobia. Prior to their relegation to the fourth tier in the 2021/22 season, Gillingham had established themselves as regulars in League One, even enjoying a stint in the Championship during the early 2000s.
While Luton Town has taken steps to adapt their ground to meet Premier League standards, Gillingham, despite a recent financial boost from a takeover, is far from concerning themselves with such matters. However, reports suggest that the club’s new owner, Brad Galinson, plans to renovate the Brian Moore stand in the upcoming summer.
Recognizing the need for improvements, Galinson acknowledges that adding a roof would significantly enhance the experience for visitors to Priestfield. Although no concrete plans have been unveiled yet, Wrexham’s Hollywood owners and the away fans attending the match at Priestfield can anticipate an eye-opening surprise.