GILLINGHAM owner Paul Scally has revealed how he was the victim of abuse while caring for his dying friend.
Scally, 66, was horrified when online trolling escalated to intruders destroying his property and car, and he even received late-night hate calls after his mobile number was posted on social media.
The Gillingham chairman is the second longest-serving owner of English football after Middlesbrough’s Steve Gibson, who has been at the helm for 27 years
And he went through hell juggling the Kent club’s finances after the loss £3 MILLION because of Covid with the help for lifelong pal Philip Ewens who had terminal pulmonary thrombosis.
His friend eventually succumbed to the disease last June, but ongoing attacks on Scally have continued over the past season, even with a plane being flown over Priestfield with the message “Scally out”.
And after Gillingham were relegated to the second tier on goal difference after losing at home to Rotherham in April, violence erupted during a pitch invasion that led to a spate of arrests.
It made Scally consider staying in the game he loves.
The Gills chairman told me: “I was in a bad place suffering a barrage of abuse from a minority of fans. Some of it was brutal and personal. My property and my car were damaged.
“And I was also working as a carer at the time because one of my closest friends, with whom I went to school from the age of five, was seriously ill.
“Everyone thought he had Covid but it turned out to be pulmonary thrombosis. He had no one to take care of him.
“Phil lived in a room in Charlton and I can only describe the place as a dump!
“I said, ‘Dude, you can’t stay here, this place is terrible.’ There were hardly any windows, he had no Sky TV, no WiFi. He was alone, it was really sad.
“It was during the Covid period and I was at home all the time. So I said, ‘I have a spare room, I’ll fix it up and you can stay with me.’
“I had a walk-in shower fitted, the NHS sent a hospital bed and oxygen equipment while I became his carer.
“Every day I made him breakfast and lunch and gave him his medication.
“I built a chicken coop and eggs were laid every morning. Phil loved poached eggs so he got them fresh.
“We were good company for each other and it gave me a sense of purpose. He was only given two months to live but it took 11 months.
“I wouldn’t say he had a happy time, but it was a lot happier than being stuck in this horrible place.
“We had great banter and didn’t talk about the fact that he was dying. The only thing that stood between us was the fact that he was a Charlton fan! The day before he died, I was teasing him about football.
“He was with me until the end. His body just gave up. He was 65.”
Scally runs Gillingham to the best of his ability but has also delivered the club’s most successful era.
During his tenure they have won three promotions, reached three Wembley play-off finals, won four FA Cup ties against Premier League clubs and achieved their best-ever finish of 11th in the Championship.
But some fans became uneasy and the Gils chairman said: “I’ve been abused online and some of the language was scathing and full of hate. It was disgusting.
“I couldn’t understand why these people were so mad at me and it was like they were eating each other and social media wasn’t helping.
“They put my phone number online and I got a call at 2am. I haven’t slept a few nights because I woke up. I had intruders on my property one night and they caused some damage.
“It was scary. It touched me more because I didn’t know why they did it. It came out of nowhere.
“One minute things seemed relatively good and the next I was getting chaotic abuse and hate. And it all happened while I was taking care of Phil.”
Scally is far from the wealthy benefactor enjoyed by many clubs but is passionate about the Gills – and the Covid situation worried him with lower division sides losing millions of pounds.
The Gillingham chairman oversaw a major cleanup of the stadium and restored business.
But Scally admits he was stunned by the scenes he witnessed after the Rotherham defeat.
Priestfield, which already has a school for disadvantaged children, will soon open a kindergarten. The club also hosts concerts in its great hall and built a pizza and pasta factory while looking for other important sources of income.
And he believes the post-Covid football world is much more aggressive.
He said: “There is no question that I was harmed by it. No one who’s been on the other side of what I’ve been through for the last year couldn’t be affected – especially if you haven’t done anything wrong.
“It’s true I haven’t invested £10m to 20m because I don’t have that kind of funds. I’m not like former Derby chairman Mel Morris who could write £100m checks – although that didn’t end well, did it?
“I’m not a wealthy benefactor. I never was and I never will. I’m just a normal person running a football club. But it is becoming increasingly clear in the English game that there are limited spots for such owners these days!”
Asked if he’s still considering throwing in the towel at Gillingham, he said: “I’m feeling a little bit better than I was in April, but I’m taking things day by day.”
Kick sexists out of football
It was great to see QPR and Middlesbrough fans alike welcoming England lionesses heroine Chloe Kelly to Loftus Road.
Euro 2022 match winner Kelly, 24, is a huge Rs fan and was at the club to open The Stanley Bowles stand and was applauded from every corner of the floor.
But unfortunately there are still sexist idiots who go to games and make women feel like second-class citizens.
Bristol City women’s manager Lauren Smith revealed how she was targeted as she watched the men’s side lose 3-2 to Sunderland at Ashton Gate.
She was fed the old boring sexist cliché that women don’t belong in football, they belong in the kitchen.
Lauren retaliated on her Twitter account by inviting the jerk to Robin’s High Performance Center to prove him very wrong.
I also have a suggestion for the man.
You certainly shouldn’t be in football, you’re the one who isn’t welcome, you outdated sexist fanatic!
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5951179/gillingham-paul-scally-interview/ Gillingham owner Paul Scally has been attacked by vile fans with late-night hate calls while caring for a dying pal