When the Swans were given a home FA Cup 4th Round tie against League One Gillingham last night, few fans realised that the Gills were actually managed by none other than former Swansea City loanee Steve Lovell.
58 year old Lovell made over 450 Football League appearances, scoring 141 goals, in a career which saw him play as a striker for Crystal Palace, Stockport County, Millwall, Gillingham, AFC Bournemouth and home-town club Swansea City.
The former Gowerton Grammar school pupil, played on a month long loan for the Swans from parent club Millwall in February 1987, scoring on his Vetch Field debut in a 2-2 draw with Burnley in League Division Four.
He left Terry Yorath’s side before the end of his loan and later signed for Gillingham, where he went on to make 233 appearances. In 1992, Lovell dropped into non-league football to continue his playing career and eventually start his managerial career.
Fast forward to October 2017 and Lovell became caretaker manager at the Priestfield Stadium, after the sacking of Peter Taylor, before being awarded the job permanently after an impressive start under his stewardship.
Despite the Gills languishing in 17th place in League One currently this season, they pulled off arguably the shock of the FA Cup 3rd Round by beating Premier League Cardiff City 1 nil thanks to Elliott List’s 81st minute strike.
It would certainly have been quite an FA Cup 4th Round draw had the Bluebirds prevailed and the two bitter rivals still been draw against each other!
The Swans will take on the Gills at the Liberty Stadium on the weekend of Saturday, January 26.
You’d have to go back some 11 years to November 2007, to find when the two sides last met in SA1, when the lowly Gills held the top of the table Swans to a 1-1 draw after referee Stuart Attwell had send off Swans striker Warren Feeney after just 23 minutes.
Roberto Martinez’s side were grateful for a 79th minute Paul Anderson goal, which cancelled out Delroy Facey’s 10th minute opener for the Gills.
Perhaps ironically, the last time the two sides actually met, the Swans earned promotion from League One thanks to two Guillem Bauza goals in a 2-1 win at Gillingham in April 2008.
Ticket details for the 4th Round game are yet to be announced, but hopefully the Swans won’t be the second south Wales team to succumb to Gillingham in the FA Cup this season.