Priestfield Stadium: Gillingham

Redfern Avenue, Gillingham, Kent, England, ME7 4DD
Paul Wilkinson / Flickr.com

Priestfield Stadium shares its history very closely with the club that calls it home. Gillingham Football Club was founded in 1893 as New Brompton FC and immediately moved in to the newly built ground. There remains a slight question mark over whether the stadium was named after the road it was built on or whether the road was named after the stadium, though the fact that the ground was officially called Priestfield Road until 1947 suggests it’s the former.

In order to maintain the running of the ground in its infancy, the club allowed it to be used for a whole host of other events. These included things like fetes, athletics meetings and the excitingly titled Smoking Concerts. Sheep were also permitted to graze on the pitch during the week when games were not being played, which is laughable these days. The ground was heavily redeveloped in the 1990s, though before that the only major reconstruction came when floodlights were added in 1963.

Stats

Priestfield Stadium Stats
Year Opened1893
Capacity11,582
Average Attendance5,257
Record Attendance23,002 (Gillingham v QPR (1948))
Pitch Size104 x 68 (7072)
NicknamePriestfield
Former NameKRBS Priestfield Stadium
OwnerGillingham Football Club
SponsorMEMS
Clubs HostedGillingham F.C., Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., London Broncos
First FixtureNew Brompton Reserves v Grays (02/09/1893)
Gillingham Stats
Year Founded1893
NicknameThe Gills
Club MascotTommy T. Trewblu
RivalsMillwall, Swindon Town, Maidstone United
KitBlue (Home) / Red (Away) / White and Red (Third)
Training GroundBeechings Cross Gillingham Football Club Training Ground
Shirt SponsorMEMS
Team OwnerPaul Scally
Record GoalscorerBrian Yeo (149)
Record AppearancesRon Hillyard (655)

Priestfield Stadium Photos

Priestfield Stadium Seating Plan & Where to Sit

As is the case with most old grounds, Priestfield Stadium has four distinct stands. The Medway Stand has two tiers separated by boxes and contains the dugouts and players’ tunnel. The Rainham End Stand is a single-tier and is where the most passionate Gillingham fans sit. The Gordon Road Stand runs along the side of the pitch and is restricted in height because of the nearby residential area, whilst The Brian Moore Stand is the only uncovered section of the ground and normally houses the away fans.

Gillingham Ticket Prices

Gillingham have a pricing structure that is a little more complex than elsewhere, but not too much of a struggle to get your head around. Essentially, how much you pay for your ticket will depend on your age and where in the ground you’d like to sit. However, booking in advance is advised as there is a £2 price hike on all tickets bought on the day.

Here we’ve listed the cheapest and most expensive tickets for adults and concessions when bought in advance:

  • Adults: £20.00 - £22.00
  • Concessions: £16.00 - £19.00

How To Get Gillingham Tickets

Tickets are available through the club’s website, by calling the ticket office or by dropping into the box office itself on a match day. Be warned though that there is a £1 fee to book over the phone.

Where to Buy

Getting To Priestfield Stadium

Gillingham is in Kent, which is a short commute from London. As such it’s reasonably easy to get to wherever you are in the country, though it might require you to head into London and then back out again if coming by train. Here are some of the usual methods you’ll want to consider.

Train - Gillingham Railway Station is about ten minutes walk from the ground and there are regular trains from Victoria and Charing Cross station in the nation’s capital.

Bus - Because it is such a short walk from the city centre there aren’t really any specific bus routes to take to the ground, but that’s ok as you really don’t need one.

Car - From the South leave the M2 at Junction 4 onto the A278. Get onto the A2 then the A289 before following the signs. From the North leave the A2 at Junction 1 onto the A289 then keep your eye out for signs to Gillingham and the ground.

By Air - London Southend Airport is less than twenty miles from the ground, but if you want a bigger option then Gatwick is about fifty miles away.

Taxi - A taxi from the train station to the ground will take less than five minutes and cost about £5.

Parking Near Priestfield Stadium

It’s mostly on-street parking near Priestfield Stadium, but keep your eyes peeled for parking restrictions. You can park at nearby Woodlands Primary School, too.

Useful Resources

Priestfield Stadium Hotels

London is under an hour away on the train, so that’s where to stay if you like the bright lights of the city. Gillingham is not without hotel choices, though, so here are some of our favourites:

Holiday Inn Rochester Chatham - £55+

Maidstone Road, Chatham, ME5 9SF
Just over three miles from the ground is this branch of the Holiday Inn hotel chain. It offers a restaurant, a bar, a full-service spa and an indoor pool. More details.

Detling Coachhouse Bed & Breakfast - £75+

Scragged Oak Road, Maidstone, ME14 3HB
Six miles from Priestfield Stadium is this delightful B&B with just six rooms. They offer free pick up from the train station, a garden and even a library. How's that sound? More details.

Ship & Trades - £85+

Maritime Way, Chatham Maritime, Chatham, ME4 3ER
This 4-star hotel is only a mile and a half from the stadium and has a meeting room, plus free Wi-Fi, free parking and a free breakfast included in your fee. More details.

Pubs & Bars Near Priestfield Stadium

Gillingham has more than its fair share of fun little watering holes. Here are some of our favourites:

Blues Rock Cafe

Priestfield Road, Gillingham, ME7 4DD (01634 300000)
This place is actually run by the club itself, so you’ll get exactly what you expect from a stadium pub; there’s decent drinks and loads of live sport on big screen TVs.

The Cricketers

Sturdee Avenue, Gillingham, ME7 2JR (01634 851226)
The Cricketers is a little outside of the centre of Gillingham but is well worth the visit. They serve delicious home-cooked food, have excellent ales and beers on tap and the have two large screens and six smaller screens to show sport on.

The Britannia

158 High Street, Gillingham, ME7 1AJ (01634 850967)
The Britannia was re-decorated recently and is just what you’d expect from a pub near to a train station. They serve bar snacks, good drinks and have a selection of fun locals for you to chat to if you like making friends.

Facilities

Priestfield Stadium was re-built in the 1990s, with the away end little more than a temporary stand even now. The facilities are standard stuff but not exceptional. There are the usual places to buy food and drink but don’t be expecting anything fancy.

Prices

  • Programme: 3.00
  • Pie: 3.80
  • Cup of tea: 2.00

Hospitality

By The original uploader was ChrisTheDude at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rather than giving a run down of the hospitality packages available at Priestfield, the team there promise to tailor each package individual to meet the needs of the person or company that want to book it. Good news if that is you as you will be able to arrange exactly what you want, but bad news for us as we can’t list any specific details.

Private Hire

Priestfield Stadium advertises itself as Kent’s largest purpose-built conference centre, so it’s fair to say they feel like they can deal with anything you might throw at them. You can host exhibitions, business meetings or even weddings at the home of Kent’s only professional football club.

Stadium Tours & Museum

Right now there are neither tours you can do at Preistfield Stadium nor a museum you can visit. If that changes we’ll let you know.

About Gillingham

footysphere / Flickr.com

The Gills are the only professional football team in Kent and were founded in 1893. They joined the Football League in 1920 but were cruelly voted out in favour of Ipswich Town in 1938. Twelve years later and the Football League expanded from 88 to 92 clubs and Gillingham were back in. They narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference in 1993 before bouncing back, spending five years from the turn of the millennium in the second-tier of English football for the first time in their history.

In the early 1890s Chatham Excelsior, a junior football club, had a lot of success that encouraged a group of local businessmen to get together to create a professional football team. The result was the formation of New Brompton FC, the forerunner to Gillingham. The name was changed in 1912 and the club played under that banner for the following season, though it wasn’t officially ratified by the club’s shareholders until 1913.

Priestfield Stadium History

Priestfield Stadium in 1982 - Steve Daniels [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Originally called Priestfield Road before becoming Priestfield Stadium, the ground was known as KRBS Priestfield Stadium from 2007 until 2010 due to sponsorship reasons. Nowadays it is known as MEMS Priestfield Stadium for the same reason. During the 1990s Brighton & Hove Albion played their home games at the ground whilst their own stadium was being renovated.

The ground isn’t only used for football. The rugby league club London Broncos moved into the stadium in 2013 and will continue to play there in the future. This may lead to some improvements at the stadium, given that the last changes there were in the 1990s when the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough Disaster resulted in Football League grounds having to make substantial safety improvements.

Future Developments

In September 2013 the club’s Chairman, Paul Scally, said “There is no future for the club at the Priestfield” and confirmed that he wanted to move Gillingham to a new home. Numerous financial difficulties have hit the club in the intervening years, meaning that as things currently stand the Gills are unlikely to move at any point in the foreseeable future. The only thing that might change is the The Brian Moore Stand, which is currently temporary and without a roof.

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