STFC Museum is coming soon

The Latest County Ground Tours

I thought I would start this column by writing about two tours of the County Ground I did with our President John Trollope for groups from the Foundation Park. I don’t think John would disagree with me if I say that if those taking the tour enjoyed it half as much as we enjoyed giving it they were a great success.

On Wednesday we went round with a group of over seventies supporters who gather on a Wednesday at the Foundation Park. It was great to see among the group one young lady who I was at school with, while Geoff Walters who taught at Churchfields with me and played in the Swindon Boys team at the same time as John.

He was able to contribute a couple of stories about George “Garth” Hudson who he played along side in the Swindon Reserve team. It was not only memories of Swindon Town of yesteryear that Geoff bought back but of teaching at Churchfields. I wonder if any column readers remember his playing of Joseph tunes. I do as I taught in the classroom next door! Geoff is going to be playing the piano for this at the church at Stratton and I am sure it will bring back memories.

I don’t know if Roger Smart reads this column or if he has an agent who does. I have to say if this group was anything to go by a Roger Smart Fan Club would go viral. I was surprised how many highlighted his contribution to the sixty niners. I certainly think it was immense. Don didn’t need to run as Roger did the running of two men and according to John was fitter than him. High praise in deed.

Thursday saw a group for dementia sufferers* who meet once a month. Andrea, who organises the group, said two things were essential with this group one of which was we have a chance to sit down en route and I for one was glad to hear this having done the tour the day before. Shane introduced us when we gathered in the Players Lounge and we were lucky to be joined by Saidou Khan. It was interesting to learn he had been turned away (correctly in his opinion) four years ago by the then Swindon manager as not ready. He endeared himself to the group by relating how when he moved to Swindon he could have gone to Oxford United, which was in a higher Division, but chose Swindon because he had felt he was made welcome when he first came here.

Several of the group had carers with them but it was difficult to tell which was which such was the demand to be photographed together and memories of the old Shrivenham Road Stand came flooding back as they did while looking at the mural of players who have come through the Youth system saw much tapping of the picture of a favourite hero from the past.

I cannot leave this group without mentioning the fact that Billy Tucker, a member of a Town team that might well have replicated the feat of the team who beat Arsenal had it not been for a certain Wolverhampton goalkeeper, is a member of the group. John and myself presented him with a birthday card and we sang happy birthday. It is said that a memory is something that makes you cry. Billy and myself were both crying. I hope his tears were happy ones mine certainly were.

I will finish off by giving you the answer to some questions I have been asked on previous tours but to which I did not know the answer to at the time.

What is the name of the dog? This referred to some of the team photos of the pre First World War period where trainer Fred Wiltshire has a dog under his arm and the answer is Bobby.

We’re Swindon the first team to play a League match under floodlights? No but they only missed out by seven days. Swindon’s first League match under lights was against Millwall. They won 1-0 and rocketed up the Division Three South Table from 24th to 23rd.

What was the first ever match on the County Ground? Swindon began playing on the present pitch in after one season playing on the cricket ground. The first match on the present ground was a 4-0 win over Wolverton.

Finally I am hoping that the Website will soon include a video of Bob Jefferson. If it does it will be very much down to the ability of our Treasurer Keith to enable me to negotiate the wonders of modern technology. Who is Bob some of you may ask. The answer is he scored the winning goal for Swindon when they defeated the Argentina nation side. It makes me think if there is any purveyor of fine wines out there (Nick Arkell can you hear me?) an evening tasting Argentinian wines with a talk on Swindon’s tour of Argentina could promote wine sales and the Museum.

Bob Jefferson in the middle

If you have any ideas for fund raising events or have any questions do get in touch. We would love to hear from you. I am intending that my next Curator’s Column will be on Leadership. If you have any thoughts on great leaders be they manager, director or player let me know. I often think that it is an over rated concept, at least in some ways. Would Bert Head have been anything without his babes? Would Lou Macari have earned two promotions without Brian Hillier? Would Frank Burrows have made the present Swindon team promotion contenders? Some questions which could make a brilliant exam paper for a degree in Swindon Town’s history but at present are just the imponderables of history.

Dick’s book on Swindon’s First Promotion in the 1962-3 season is dedicated to Maurice Owen and those like him who, in Dick’s words, in giving us wonderful memories lost their own. The book has now been made available by Dick to raise money for the Museum Trust. They cost a fiver but we hope you won’t think us grasping if we ask for £10 if you would like it signed by our President John Trollope who was a pillar of the side

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