Manager Neil Harris gives an astonishing interview as Gillingham and Rotherham fans took to clash on the pitch at Priestfield.
The League One match had everything riding on it, the Gills had been hoping to avoid relegation and the Millers had eyes on finishing in the automatic promotion places. You can see how finale day played out HERE.
After 98 minutes, the game ended in a 2-0 win for Rotherham, which meant they were promoted from the division and Gillingham were relegated.
Play had already been held up as supporters from the away end ran on to celebrate a goal that was ruled out by the referee before doing so with Rotherham getting their second goal in the 89th minute.
As soon as the final whistle blew, both sets of fans clashed having legged it onto the playing surface and met in the middle, causing police/stewards to rush on and create a line of sort to prevent it from turning nasty.
Most of the Rotherham supporters stayed behind after the match with Gills supporters asked to leave, though some instead took to aim anger at chairman Paul Scally, calling for him to resign.
talkSPORT2 were in attendance to see this play out, with commentator Ian Danter saying Rotherham fans looked set to invade the pitch and co-commentator Perry Groves revealing their manager was telling supporters to remain in the stands.
He said: “Paul Warne and his coaching staff have been ushering them, saying ‘please don’t invade the pitch, we’ll come to you and we’ll celebrate together’.
“I have to report that there are some skirmishes on the halfway line between rival fans. Things are being thrown from one set of fans into the other. This is not what we wanted to see.”
Groves added: “Idiots. Absolute idiots. Rotherham fans have come onto the pitch to celebrate, Gillingham fans have come on from the Rainham end and a group of about 25-30 Gillingham fans, young men, have come onto the pitch looking for trouble, probably all under the age of 30 or 35.
“They just wanted to have a fight. To be fair to the stewards, they got there fairly quickly, right along the halfway line, to try and separate them.
“You always get these idiots who are throwing punches and just looking for trouble.
“Some of the Rotherham fans and some of the Gillingham fans are using it as an excuse to have a fight.”
Danter added: “Thankfully they were only brief skirmishes and now a lot of those Gillingham fans are walking away from the halfway line back to the Rainham end.”
Whilst all that was going on, Gills boss Neil Harris gave a refreshing yet brutally honest interview.
He said: “We tried to compete with Rotherham but they have got better players than us. Better players, better squad and look at the bench, we don’t talk about them as subs anymore, we call them game-changers. Game-changers? I don’t seem many (in the Gills squad).
“We have scored 13 goals this season at home, it is a disgrace for any football club, certainly a football club I am representing.
“We are going to go into League 2 next season and all of a sudden we are not going to be Gillingham Football Club with the biggest budget in League 2, it is not going to happen, we have to compete and cut our cloth accordingly and get on with it, that will be the challenge for me, to put a squad together.
“I have got seven players under contract, those seven, not all of them will be here under me, not by choice anyway, some will be gone. There are a couple of players out of contract I would like to keep. Players haven’t been good enough.
“You can always blame past regimes and so and so, this and that, but players have to take responsibility as well. I have protected my players since the day I walked in and I take responsibility on behalf of the football club, does the dressing room take responsibility for their performances?
“Since February 1, when I walked in, we have had the smallest budget in the division, if you have the smallest budget in the division that normally gets you bottom of the league. That is fact.
Gillingham manager, Neil Harris – “Seven players under contract that won’t be here next season, don’t want them”
— PCPresenter (@PcPresenter) April 30, 2022
“Portsmouth have 73 points and just about made the top 10. The gulf between the division is a joke, it is a brilliant division and that is why I was so desperate to stay in it, we just have to be better as a football club.
“There are the seven contracted players, not all seven will be here, some of them I look forward to working with again but I am just saying I need more from individuals and collectively.
“Fans can make assumptions and have an opinion, it is ultimately about opinion, but really what matters is my opinion on players futures. They need to step up and come with me or don’t.
“We will see what the summer brings, recruitment wise, all I can promise is that while I am the manager of this football club, the club will be in safe hands, they know the players will be treated with respect and know the standards they have to meet, or the don’t play for me.”
On speaking to those players, Harris said (as quoted by KentOnline) he would like to be left with just a handful and added: “I have told them they are a brave man if they want to come and see me too soon because they will get the home truths. I need to speak to the players over the next 72 hours.”
— Tommaso Dimiddio (@tom_dimiddio) April 30, 2022
Twitter users reacted as Neil Harris gives an astonishing interview while Gillingham and Rotherham fans clash on the pitch…
@Scadds: Honest. Needed.
@ThatRationalFan: But how does he REALLY feel?
@AdrianS97514416: Neil Harris is an legend and watching he’s after match speech definitely he’s the right man to bring the changes we need but just hope scallywag back him to the brim this summer… utg
@robertspiros: It sounds like he might kill the 7 under contract!
@JGillDRFC278: Imagine if @drfc_official would’ve appointed a bloke like this instead of the inclusive PE teacher. #drfc
@JustinJugger: Old school. Will manage like he played. Wants 100% week in week out.
@AlanSurrey: Says it how it should be 👍 Hate to think what he would say about the @AFCWimbledon squad had he inherited that 🤷🏼♂️😂
@stollieb: 👏🏽👏🏽 Neil Harris is the only reason we were fighting till the last day. He’s right the club has been an absolute mess this season, calling out Scally on Sky Sports good job. Wouldn’t want anyone else managing us in league 2
@GlovesRon: You won’t get a more honest or accurate assessment… Better times ahead.
@dazmo46: FairPlay to him says it exactly how it is refreshing in this day and age 👍🏻
@number8buser: Fair play Neil. Always call out wasters.
@JohnRog93278351: Unlucky Gillingham.Every respect for you massive club with a huge fan base.You will bounce back of that there is no doubt.
@stephen_dimmock: The damage was done before he came in to be honest. I thought they would have been relegated well before the last day not long ago
@thomashill2002: At least he tells it like it is and doesn’t put any sprinkles on it. Nice to see.
@JON_BANKSY: That’s speaking straight. Refreshing 💙💙
@Geordiebaggie: Brilliant honesty
@AJSA2910: Fair play. A manager who talks like it is. Hope you come back up next season
@RokerPark150705: I’ll be honest, despite him clearly being an excellent football manager, I’ve never liked Neil Harris… but he has my new-found respect for these post-match, end-of-season comments. Heart on sleeve, doesn’t hold back with his stinging criticism… Fair play, guvnor… 👍
@zacswfcwalker: Always liked Neil Harris, Nice to hear a manager speaking the truth about how a football clubs been run, normally scapegoated and used as a get out of jail free card by owners after shocking business by themselves.
@DavidMc91962608: He will probably get charged by the FA for hurting the 7 players feelings 😂😂
@AS_AVFC: Good this is what the it needs at every level of the game. If you’re not good enough off you go. Simple
@BexsMayne: Speak it like it is Neil! I always loved his passion and I really hope he succeeds for Gillingham. He took them over when they were rock bottom and had a huge task on his hands! Them contracted players need to run, because chopper is coming for you!! Neil you’ve got this 💪
@ChrisHobster: I thought he was talking about @wba – good to hear some straight talking honesty – these days it’s rare in football