At an earlier stage of this book's progression, Tom rather worriedly commented on the unsettling and suspicious 'curse' of the Bromley Boys - the fact that since beginning work on the manuscript, his beloved York City had contrived to lose a fair number of games, apparently mirroring Bromley's terminal decline in that fateful 1969/70 season.
Now, being merely a part-time football fan, I can't profess to share his depth of passion for any particular football club, and I'm certainly nowhere near Dave's level of teenage obsession. But being born and raised in Medway, Kent, I do have an old affection for Gillingham FC, who finished their season last Saturday with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Leeds United at Elland Road. This meant the Gills stuck on 46 points (pl 46, w 11, d 13, l22), finishing 22nd in League One, and were thus relegated.*
*(Although, far from crying into a Gills shirt, I spent a rather pleasant Bank Holiday weekend and wasn't too bothered. In my defence, I'd already given up when they drew a must-win game against Swindon 1-1. And, living in north London these days, a stone's throw from the emporium of footballing grace that is the Emirates Stadium, it's easy to be tempted away from noticing what goes on at the slightly less glamorous KRBS Priestfield. Am I about to be lynched for football heresy?)
So, somewhat tragically, Gillingham go down along with Bournemouth, Port Vale and Luton Town. It could've been Cheltenham, it could've been Crewe, but it turned out to be us, along with the Cherries. Was this just bad luck? The inevitable culmination of a difficult and troubled season which started with Ronnie Jepson at the helm and finished with Mark Stimson, the side racked with injury, the club with no funds to bring in any real talent and - crucially - the lack of a decent goalscoring forward? Or...the dreaded curse of the Bromley Boys at work?
League Two beckons after summer for Gillingham, who spent twelve seasons clawing their way out, right up to the Championship, and now they're back. How depressing. For most of the Rainham end faithful, it probably won't truly sink in until next season, when - inevitably - the first fixture turns out to be against Dagenham & Redbridge.