GILLINGHAM manager Peter Taylor hopes the rivalry between his team’s fans and their Swindon counterparts will help create a hostile environment at the Priestfield Stadium this weekend.
Supporters of the Gills and the Robins share a strange animosity of each other of almost derby-like proportions, despite being separated by some 127 miles, all of which stems from a series of incidents in the late 1970s.
The ill-feeling caused some 35 years ago still exists today and Taylor, whose side sit 15th in League One, wants the home crowd to use it to their team’s advantage.
“The most important thing for us at the minute is three points, we don’t get four if we beat Swindon, although I know it will feel like that,” he said.
“This is my Swindon-Gillingham debut. Hopefully we will go and get three points. The Palace-Brighton rivalry always surprised a lot of people and there is plenty of rivalry around. It is good and I’ve no problem with that and if it makes it an even better atmosphere here on Saturday then fantastic for us, that’s what we want.
“We want Swindon players to come out before the game to know how lively our supporters are.”
Gillingham lost their last league game 3-0 at Colchester and Taylor has called on his players to provide and immediate response to that defeat.
“Every time you play the next game after a disappointing one there is a little more pressure on the players. They have got to handle that situation,” he said.
“On Saturday I have put in my programme notes that I can only apologise (about last week's defeat) because it certainly wasn’t good enough and it’s a shame because we took so many supporters there.
“I know that we are progressing. When there is a performance like Saturday people will think we’re not progressing and the ones who are a little negative get encouraged to be more negative. We are progressing, there is no doubt and Saturday was just a nightmare performance. It was a nothing performance.
“The players know what this game means but it won’t make any difference. The players know how important a win would be here on Saturday.
“I know it is lovely to win a local derby, even though this isn’t one, but it’s got the impression it is, at the end of the day players could be playing a team up north and that win is still just as important.
“All that is important for us is three points. We just want to get to a certain amount of points to make sure we are okay and I don’t care who gives us them.”