With the approach of Remembrance Day. I thought I would devote this month’s column to the ways in which Swindon have remembered their players that have been lost in the two World Wars.
The first memorial I saw at the County Ground was a small plaque which can still be seen on the wall in the reception area in the main entrance in the John Trollope Stand. It merely mentions the three individuals who were on Swindon’s books and were killed or died while on active service during World War Two.
The three men were Sergeant Jack Fowler of the Dorsets, Leading Airman James Imrie and Sergeant James Olney of the Coldstream Guards. It is worth mentioning that “Foxy” Fowler was the Town’s leading scorer in the 1936-7 and 1937-8 seasons goal before the conflict that cost so many lives and at least six seasons of League football.
A memorial to Swindon players who died serving in World War Two had been put above the tunnel from which the players ran on to the playing field from the Old North Stand, affectionately known as the Cow Shed. When this stand was demolished it disappeared. I have always hoped that, like the Dubonnet Cup, it might one day resurface. These hopes have risen a little with a tip to look in the Council Depot and I am hoping a couple of my Rotary colleagues on the Council will be able to organise a search.
The lack of a memorial to Swindon players killed in both Wars was righted in 2014 when Supporters Groups joined together to finance the erection of a memorial board which was placed, like the old one above the Players’ Tunnel. It involved a lot of hard work and research by Paul Plowman and the late Mark Sutton in trying to make sure all who served were included.
Unfortunately, the cover pulled out to protect the players from objects being thrown on to the pitch means the view of it is restricted and this is perhaps something that will be looked at when ground redevelopment takes place.
I was delighted to be asked last year to assist in a project undertaken by the Academy Under 10 and Under 12 teams. To mark Armistice Day their matches with Exeter City the games were preceded by wreath laying by the captains in a ceremony joined by Rohan Darcy and a Marines Representative. After the match the two teams listened to selected young players tell the story of a player from their club who had been involved in a World War. It was very fitting that the matches that day involved Exeter City as they, like us, have a proud history and have worked hard to preserve the knowledge of that fact by having their own museum.
The first of the ground tours has taken place and we hope to make these a regular feature on the calendar and that they will be able, among many other things, to draw attention to the Club War memorials and make the visible to supporters.