Club History ~
The Western Gazette of 28th. November 1879 stated that a Football Club was formed at the Phoenix Hotel on Sunday 14th. November 1879. This makes Gillingham Town the oldest club in Dorset.
A photograph of a team taken under the viaduct shows that the club was playing at Chantry Fields into the late 1800’s, and another picture just prior to the 1914-18 war was taken at the same venue.
Following the war the pitch was moved to a site behind the present Police Station and then moved to its present site in Hardings Lane after vacation by the Gillingham Show Society.
Little real success was recorded until the mid 1960’s when Dorset football began to sit up and take notice of the ‘Gills’. The Dorset League championship was won four times in five seasons.
In 1977, one of the main highlights of the club’s history was the completion of the new clubhouse, and a game against Yeovil Town’s Southern League side, in which the ‘Gills’ recorded a fine 1-0 victory.
The club continued to fare reasonably well in the Dorset Combination League during the mid 1970’s, and in 1978/79 the ‘Gills’ almost carried off the championship, only being narrowly denied by Poole Town Reserves, who pipped the ‘Gills’ by just a single point!
The culmination of all the ‘Gills’ endeavours in the Dorset Combination League came to fruition only at the end of the 2001/2 season when, under the managership of Paul Down, the lads came from behind to win 2-1, after extra time, in the Dorset Combination League Cup Final against Westland Sports at Raleigh Grove, Sherborne.
Leading Ryman League Premier Division side Aldershot Town, now members of the Football League, visited Hardings Lane for a pre-season friendly in readiness for the 2002/3 season. The ‘Shots’ put out their full 1st. team squad during the game and, although they subsequently ran out 5-0 victors, the ‘Gills’ were by no means disgraced.
The 2002/3 season saw the Dorset Combination League take on a new title and sponsorship, and became the Elite Teamwear Dorset Premier League. 2002/3 season turned out to be a tremendous one for the ‘Gills’. The campaign saw Paul Down’s charges lose only one Elite League match all season, but again the ‘Gills’ were denied the title by a single point, this time by Hamworthy United, even though the ‘Gills’ amassed 87 points!
The 2003/4 season saw manager Paul Down depart early in the season to be temporarily and then permanently replaced by club stalwart Dave Graham, assisted by Colin Isaac. The Gills finished 4th. in the Dorset Premier League, reached the Premier League Cup Final only to lose 0-1 to Dorchester Town by the last kick of the match, and also reached the Semi-Final of the Dorset Senior Cup to again lose by the last kick of the match 1-2, after extra time, to Poole Town. A place in the Wessex League was on offer for the 2004/5, but football politics denied the Gills progression to a higher sphere of football at that time.
The installation of floodlights, along with concrete standing on all four sides was completed in the summer of 2005, and the ambition to achieve a higher level of football as soon as possible was strengthened!
2007/08 saw the arrival of player manager Adrian Foster, who during his career has played both in the Westcountry at Exeter, Torquay and Yeovil, plus also with our "Namesake Kent Cousins". Some fine tuning to the side and tactics saw both a good FA Vase run and, most importantly, a second place in the DPL which gave promotion to the Western League.
2008/09 brings an entry into both the higher level of football of the Western League and also the FA Cup............ GO FORWARD, ‘THE GILLS’ !!