< 1930's The 1940's 1950's >


All football was suspended at the end of May 1940 and while most of the players went to work in the Dockyard the ground was handed over to the Kent Fire Brigade. However in December 1943 Archie Clark managed to arrange a friendly against Ford Sports and on Boxing Day the gates at Priestfield Stadium were open once again. 4071 supporters saw a Gills team captained by Stan Cullis of Wolves and England lose 3-1.

Season 1943-44 results

1944-45 Kent League
Position 1st (out of 10)

After playing a few friendly games during early 1944 it was decided to join the Kent League for the 1944-45 season to try to provide a welcome break from the wartime routine. Archie Clark was still in charge and he started to put together the nucleus of a side that was to stand him in good stead over the next few seasons. However they only won the league with a 3-1 victory in the last game of the season against their nearest rivals Shorts Sports in front of a crowd of 5,300.

Season 1944-45 results

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Archie Clark

1945-46 Kent League
Position 1st (out of 11)

The following season saw the Gills win every competition they entered - The Kent League, Kent League Cup, Kent Senior Cup, Kent Senior Shield and the Kent County Challenge Cup (although that was on the toss of a coin). In the league they scored 111 goals in 20 games with Vic Hole leading the way with 27 followed by Tug Wilson with 19. Obviously the players were far too strong for this level and the following season the club applied to rejoin the Southern League.

Season 1945-46 results

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Vic Hole

1946-47 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 1st (out of 17)

This turned out to be one of the clubs best ever seasons as they clinched the title on the last day of the season with a 6-0 win over Bedford Town. In all they scored 103 league goals, 12 of which came in the home win over Gloucester City in November - Hughie Russell helped himself to 9 in that game and ended the season with 33 league goals. Another high scoring game was the 6-6 draw at Barry (where the Gills were 6-0 up). League side Bristol City were beaten at Ashton Gate in the FA Cup 2nd round and in the Southern League Cup Final Yeovil were beaten over two legs. In June 1947 it was decided to rename the ground to Priestfield Stadium.

Season 1946-47 results

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Hughie Russell

1947-48 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 2nd (out of 18)

The league campaign this season was slightly overshadowed by the teamís FA Cup exploits. Leyton Orient and Rochdale were both beaten in front of huge crowds at Priestfield and the Gills were then drawn at home to Division 3 leaders QPR in round 3. A record crowd of 23,002 turned up to see the Gills draw the game 1-1 but they eventually lost the replay 3-1. They did actually finish runners up in the league, 6 points behind Merthyr Tydfil and they also won the Kent Senior Cup by beating Gravesend 1-0 at Maidstone.

Season 1947-48 results

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Jimmy Boswell

1948-49 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 1st (out of 22)

The last day of the season saw 3 teams in with a chance of winning the title - Gillingham, Merthyr and Chelmsford but it was the Gills who were in the driving seat as all they needed to do was win at Colchester. And despite losing a 2-0 lead Hughie Russell made sure of the title with the winner in the 65th minute. Tug Wilson made his last league appearance for the club in the 3-1 home defeat to Datrtford. In his 14 years at Priestfield he scored 145 goals in 284 appearances.

Season 1948-49 results

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Tug Wilson

1949-50 Southern Lge Div 1
Position 5th (out of 24)

The team never reached the heights of the previous season and were playing catch up from the first few games. They spent a huge amount of money when they splashed out £10,000 for Buster Collins and the Burtenshaw brothers but they never looked like challenging for the title. Despite that hopes were high that the club would be elected to the football league due to the expansion from 88 to 92 clubs. And that hope turned to reality at the league AGM as the Gills polled a massive 44 votes and were elected to Division 3 (South) along with Colchester.

Season 1949-50 results

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Bill Collins

1940's Miscellany

1940's Kent Archive Photos

1948 Training at Priestfield

1949 Jimmy Boswell with the Southern League shield

1949-50 Priestfield Stadium from the air