I am informed that in addition to most home and away matchday programmes from the 1950’s up to the current day, which number in the several thousand, a further 1,000+ artefacts have been located ready to be exhibited or used to help people conduct historical research. Each item has been entered onto a central database which contains information enabling items relating to a particular season, player or opposition team to be retrieved. However, at present their exact physical location is still a bit hit and miss. “In my garage” can still mean an hour-long search.
We are indebted to Steve Trowbridge MBE for allowing us to use one of his offices to store the items, but I think we are about to take a big step forward with the very generous assistance of Bleckmann Logistics who are going to provide us space free of charge in one of their state-of-the-art storage facilities.
Almost certainly the most valuable items in the collection are the Fleming medals. While one is anxious about making them visible to as many people as possible, I have also been conscious of how easy and devastating it would be to lose one. Consequently, with the agreement of my fellow Trustees I have got most of them secured and labelled in a frame which is pictured below. Before leaving this exhibit, I should thank Gary Herbert for allowing his medal to be displayed alongside those purchased by a group of supporters many years ago and Kate Herbert of Well Hung Framing for producing a setting of such excellence for these valuable items.
Moving from the most valuable to the heaviest item in the collection I want to mention the Dubonnet Cup which can be viewed in the Trophy Cabinet by those coming on the ground tours or who use the hospitality areas in the John Trollope Arkells Stand. It stands almost three feet tall and weighs 112lbs. Swindon won it in a match played in Paris by two goals to one, both scored by Harold Fleming. The trophy which was based on being a facsimile of one held in the British Museum along with the medals (wouldn’t we like to get hold of of one of those) were donated by Mr Dubonnet, hence the name.
The story behind it is that it was contested for by the two teams asked by the Football Association to go to France to show the French how to play football. In a way it can be seen as a predecessor of the original World Cup donated by another French man Jules Rimet who saw in matches like this that football was a game that could transcend national boundaries.
Swindon, Leyton Orient and Fulham are the only three clubs to have won a Dubonnet Cup but in Swindon’s case it may have come at the cost of winning the F A Cup. Swindon and Barnsley had been the defeated semi-finalists in 1910 and both reached the semi-final again in 1912. This time they were pitted against each other in the semi-final. Remembering the hand he had played in defeating them in Paris, Fleming was basically “clogged” to such an extent he missed not only the replay, which Swindon lost 1-0, having missed a penalty, but was out of action for ten months not playing again until January 1913.
Since coming back with the team from Paris it has had an adventurous history being stored in the Eagle, a pub belonging to one of the directors in World War Two and twice going missing from the County Ground before turning up first in an employee’s garden and finally under a dust sheet in the Cleaners Cupboard.
Hopefully the Museum Trust and your generous donations will ensure never again is it subjected to such indignities.