STFC Museum is coming soon

No Past, No Future

It is often said a country that has no past has no future. The same can be said of football clubs. Swindon Town have a proud history and by reminding supporters of it and making it accessible to them through stadium tours perhaps we can remind supporters that they have a club to be proud of and that the wheel of fortune has its ups as well as its downs.

I will begin with a matter on which I am not able to help at the moment but want to assure those concerned we are aware of your problem and exploring options. This is the request to have tours on match days, so as to tie in with matches so as to avoid two trips or on days or times outside the working day. The problem with the former is that with changing rooms and hospitality areas being used the tour would be very much truncated with some of the most popular areas being out of bounds.

As regards the later, the club has been very helpful in given us access to all areas but the problem would be on non match weekend days or in the evenings the ground is closed so it would subject the club to additional expense not to mention staff workload. What we will do is to explore options with the club.

While it is not the same as actually seeing the ground in real life, we are also exploring the possibility of putting together a virtual tour which could be accessed through the Website.

The postcard and autographs shown are of the Swindon squad that won the Southern League Championship in 1911. The only three players who played in the Southern League side that season who are not in the list are Hemmings, a goalkeeper who played just three times and Harold Fleming and Billy Silto who I guess were on international duty. Although Billy did not get a cap, a player of his quality would probably have picked up at least a couple of dozen but in those days travelling reserves seldom got a game and Billy’s only appearances in the International team came on a tour of South Africa and in those days only matches against Wales, Scotland or Ireland warranted a cap.

The photo shows the three trophies one by that team the Southern League Trophy, the Dubonnet Cup and the Southern League Charity Cup. Like the League Cup it was won the hard way with four matches needed to beat Queensland Park Rangers in the semi-final and a replay being to defeat Brighton & Hove Albion by the only goal of the game scored by Archie Bown.

It was a privilege to have four members of the Town’s League Cup Winning team with us at the Doncaster match. I have always believed that you can learn from history and that is very much the case when you listen to them. In my opinion the toughest tie in that run was not against a top tier side that we would call a Premiership side but that against what was, then, a second tier outfit, Derby County managed by one Brian Clough. Derby had home advantage and Swindon hung on for a goalless draw at a heavily muddied Baseball Ground.

The replay at the County Ground looked like going the same way until Don Rogers got the ball. Faced with a line of defenders, Don tried a shot from about twenty five yards. It was not a bad effort and on another day might just have cleared the bar or been tipped over by Les Green in the Derby goal. As it was, the ball struck a defender’s shoulder and looped up over the keeper, who was a yard or two off his line, and dropped in the net. It proved to be the only goal of the game. Don is always the first to say you need a stoke or two of luck in football in this was one of them.

It has taken me seventy years to appreciate it but every time you lose a football match it is not because your players are abysmal or that the owner does not care but because the other side is trying just as hard and sometimes gets that bit of luck that is the difference between winning and losing and the confidence that goes with it.

This column has covered two successful teams separated by over fifty years but one thing they had in common was a manager who had been in post for at least four years and had time to build up continuity. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Sometimes a bit of patience goes a long way. One of the most satisfying things in the past month was being able to help relatives of former Town players with facts and photos about them.

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