One of our most iconic moments ever – well, the 90s at least – was at the County Ground. But what is the full story with us and Swindon Town. It’s not a question you thought you’d ever ask yourself, innit? For a long part of our history up ’til that point, we rarely went out west past Slough. But now – or when we can play football again – we go all over the place. And the glamorous M4 halfway house between here and Wales is one of ’em.
Yeah. We just implied that Swindon is glamorous. Put it down to cabin fever and move on.
Who are Swindon Town?
Ooh mama are the Robins ancient by footballing standards. The club formed in 1879 and were a founder member of the Southern League in 1894. Two years later, they moved into the County Ground and have been there ever since. The ground, that is. Not the Southern League. Duh. But you knew that, didn’t you…?
Down the years, the Robins had their fair share of success; starting with Southern League titles and the odd promotion in the Football League to beat Arsenal in the 1968-9 League Cup final. Blimey! Of course, it should’ve meant a Fairs Cup adventure. That’s now the Europa League to you. UEFA Cup to us retro kids. But a rubbish rule meant that only top-flight clubs could take part. So, Swindon had to make do with the Anglo-Italian Cup.
The Robins’ story gets really interesting in the 1980s, however. After dropping down into Div Four in 1982, they stormed back with a vengeance; Div Four champions in 1986, Div Three playoff winners in 1987 and Div Two playoff winners in 1990. It would’ve been the first time mixing it with the big boys in the top flight.
But something naughty had gone down off the pitch. So, they were booted into Div Three; a punishment reduced to just being banished to Div Two. In effect, they didn’t move in the pyramid. For some, that kick in the teeth can send you into a spiral of despair. Not for the Robins, however. Under Glenn Hoddle’s leadership, 1993 saw another playoff success that earned ’em a place in the newly-created Premier League.
Why do we know Swindon Town?
Hoddle left that summer, however, and the Robins’ time at the top lasted no more than a single season; shipping 100 goals and finishing 13 points from safety. The rot set in, with a second straight relegation plonking ’em back in the third tier for the first time since 1987.
But hold on! Steve McMahon led ’em to the 1995-6 Division Two title and a return to the second tier at the first attempt. At the same time, we were kept under the glass ceiling – despite claiming the GM Vauxhall Conference title that same season. So, with a couple of leagues between us, how on earth did we come to first meet?
It was because of a little-known competition called the FA Cup.
What is our record against Swindon Town?
The 1996-7 season saw us make Round Three for the first time. And again in 1997-8. Like Birmingham City the previous year, however, we missed out on the bigger boys and drew the Robins. To be fair to ’em and unlike Brum, though, they were knocking around the top of the table. It wouldn’t be easy; our league form not particularly great that year.
The conditions were, well, tough. But Cloughie had us well-drilled. We fell behind to Mark Walters’ goal, but Jason Soloman got us level and we then used the torrid weather to our benefit in the second half; Giuliano Grazioli scoring the winner.
It secured us a famous 2-1 win and a place in Round Four.
Wind and rain everywhere.
The second time we’d meet would be 17 years later as the 2005-6 LDV Trophy Round One draw took us back to the County Ground. But any hopes of a repeat cupset were ended by a) them being more clinical and b) us putting out an unfamiliar side. The score was 2-0 to them if you’re asking. But why would you? It’s not half as memorable an occasion.
But, on the third occasion, we met as equals.
Our record took a repeated hit in the matches that followed. Three league games, three defeats; conceding eight and scoring none. It wasn’t until our fourth-ever league match in January 2014 that we beat them. Not that it helped us stay in League One that term.
Swindon Town: Boro’s Record
Our head-to-head: P 13 — W 4 — D 0 — L 9 — F 16 — A 22 — Pts 6 — WR 31%
Our last tango: Swindon Town 1-0 Stevenage, 22 October 2019
What happened to Swindon Town?
In 2017, the Robins were back in the fourth tier. And we were back to losing habits in our league battles; Swindon claiming six points against us during the 2017-8 season. Those two wins, however, did come either side of a thumping FA Cup win for us at the Lamex; Danny Newton’s brace rounding off a 5-2 victory.
After trading home wins during the 2018-9 League Two campaign, the Robins scored a last-gasp winner to keep up their end of the bargain in 2019-20. We’re still waiting to see when – or if – they’ll be coming to the Lamex to see if we can keep up ours…
• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Swindon Town club profile