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Where Are They Now? Gillingham’s Division 4 Runners-up 1973-74

By Neil Fissler

BRIAN YEO admits he almost quit football and would have missed out on one of the highlights of his long playing career.

But he is still disappointed that his club record-equalling 31 goals were not enough to win Gillingham the Fourth Division title in an otherwise memorable season.

Nobody has scored more goals for the Gills than Yeo, who was in the twilight of his career when he equalled Ernie Morgan’s long-standing club record.

Yeo had arrived at the club from Portsmouth a decade earlier.

Gills won the Fourth Division title in that first season, even though he didn’t play enough games to qualify for a medal.

And, after finishing leading scorer in the entire Football League in 1974, it was enough to persuade him to scrap plans to retire and to continue playing for one more season.

“I had bought a newsagent’s the year before, and the wife more or less ran it that season,” he said. “I was going to retire at the end of the season because I thought it would be good to end on a high note.

“Len Ashurst came to see me after Andy Nelson left for Charlton and asked me to do another season. I said yes but said he needed to look for another striker.

“Looking back I probably bought the business too early.

“If I had my time again, I probably would have stayed playing for another two or three years then bought the business.

“You cannot do the two. They don’t mix. I played on part-time, but it didn’t really work out if I am honest with you.”

The Gills used only 19 players all season, with Dick Tydeman and George Jacks playing in all 49 league and cup matches.

Behind Yeo in the scoring list were Damien Richardson (18) and Alan Wilks (15) as Gillingham clocked up 62 points.

But they fell three points short of that season’s champions, Peterborough, in second place, while Colchester United and Bury made up the remaining two promotion places.

Yeo is quick to credit the style of player that Andy Nelson introduced as the principal reason for him scoring so many goals.

“I think it was the best season I had there without any doubt,” he said.

“Andy had a lot to do with it. His style of football was to go out and attack as much as we could.

“We scored something like 90 goals that season because he got me doing what I did best and that was getting in the box.

“And, if it wasn’t for Andy, I don’t think I’d have got as many goals as I did in those last few years.

“I scored 31 and, from my point of view, he got us to play the game in a simple way.

“Even when we went away from home, it was a case of us scoring more goals than the opposition, but we were disappointed that we didn’t win the league.

“Peterborough always seemed to have games in hand on us and never slipped up, but we played some great football and should have won it.”

gillingham graphic 1973-74

  1. Dick Tydeman: A midfielder who worked for the Prudential Assurance company before becoming a taxi driver in Gillingham. His son, Sam, was a trainee at the club.
  2. Damien Richardson: A striker who went on to manage the Gills before returning to Ireland, where he has taken charge of a number of clubs and has also worked in the media.
  3. Dave Wiltshire: A full-back who took over the running of the family greengrocery business in Folkestone, Kent where his father Harry played as a semi-professional.
  4. David Galvin: A defender who managed Gravesend & Northfleet and was a senior adviser for the Lincoln National Insurance company in Maidstone until retiring.
  5. Ian Thorpe: A goalkeeper now living and working in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.
  6. Kenny Hill: The England semi-pro international defender lives in Maidstone and became manager of a double-glazing company Britelite.
  7. Graham Knight: A full-back who managed Canterbury City and then worked as a delivery driver for a local newspaper.
  8. David Quirke: The Irish-born central defender has settled in Gillingham and is working as a taxi driver. He is a director of Strood Cabs in the town.
  9. Glenn Aitkin: A full-back who ran his own advertising agency then worked in publishing, before becoming marketing director of Lashings Cricket Club.
  10. Mike Gibson: The England youth goalkeeper returned to Bristol, where he coached at Bristol City and scouted before becoming a postman locally.
  11. Alan Wilks: The forward lives in Rainham, Kent, and was a crane driver, then worked in double glazing as a window fitter, before becoming an industrial cleaner.
  12. Brian Gregory: A forward who is now retired after settling in the Kent area, where he became a Margate legend.
  13. George Jacks: A midfielder who worked as a rep and then a printer for the Kent Messenger Group for 32 years and now lives in Medway in retirement.
  14. Kenny Rogers: A winger who lives in Chatham and worked in the machine shop of Selex Galileo in Basildon, Essex.
  15. Joe Jacques: Defender and captain who sadly died in February, 1981 after suffering a heart attack at his home in Darlington, aged 36. He was working at the time as a sales rep.
  16. Keith Lindsay: A right-back who played alongside his brother, Barry, at Scunthorpe. He died in Februar,y 2003, aged 56, and was working as a crane driver in Lincolnshire.
  17. Dave Coxhill: A midfielder who is now living in Northampton and working as a driver for a courier company after relocating from West London.
  18. Brian Yeo: The striker managed Folkestone and Canterbury City and ran a newsagent’s, before becoming a newspaper delivery driver prior to retiring.

NOT PICTURED

David Peach: A full-back who lives in Milford on Sea, from where he started his own building business.

This article was brought to you by The Football League Paper. On-sale every Sunday, the newspaper provides extensive coverage for all 72 Football League clubs with news, features and gossip plus comprehensive match reports.
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