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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 10:54 GMT
Gills clinch promotion at last
Gillingham celebrate promotion
Gillingham clinched promotion to Division One by beating Wigan Athletic 3-2 in the Second Division play-off final at Wembley.

After suffering heartache the previous season at the hands of Manchester City, there was simply no way the Gills were going to experience a repeat of their Wembley woe.

Andy Thomson was overcome with emotion after scoring the goal that put Gillingham into Division One at the expense of Wigan.

"This is going to take a few days to sink in. It's fairytale stuff, scoring the winner in a Wembley final after coming off the bench," he said. "But while I was warming up I was itching to get on, because I really fancied my chances of scoring. "It was a tremendous cross and I just steered in my header," he added.

Gillingham were only denied automatic promotion after losing 1-0 at Wrexham on the final day of the regular season.

Peter Taylor
In-demand Peter Taylor now at Leicester

It was tough for the Gills to stomach after it had looked like Peter Taylor's side had timed their promotion run to perfection.

The Gills had to play a stack of matches at the end of the season after their FA Cup exploits earlier in the campaign - which took them to the quarter-finals - left them playing catch-up with their fixtures.

And despite fatigue and injuries, Taylor impressively drove his players on to the final game at Wrexham but their defeat and Burnley's win at Scunthorpe left Gills in third - and another play-off lottery.

The only disappointment after reaching Division One was losing highly-rated manager Taylor to Leicester City as a replacement for Martin O'Neill, who joined Celtic.

Gillingham confirmed coach Andy Hessenthaler as their new player-manager on 28 June with Steve Butler his assistant.

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