Ever since our famous 1998 cup win at the County Ground, our record against Swindon Town has left a lot to be desired; almost as if the Robins were out for revenge. After a run of four straight defeats to the Wiltshire team, we rediscovered that winning touch in early 2014. Not that it has stuck as much as we’d like; Boro’ still with much ground in the head-to-head stakes to make up. There’s still yet to be a draw between us though.
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.
How to get to Swindon Town – Travel Information – Distance: 30 miles
The M4 is most convenient for getting to Swindon. But it first requires passage along the A1(M) and M25. Once on the westbound M4, sit back and enjoy the views of Slough and Reading; there is not much to report until you reach Junction 15 in the heart of Wiltshire.
At Junction 15, take the A4259 Queens Drive towards Swindon town centre. Continue across one roundabout, before taking the first exit at the next one. This’ll be the A4312 towards Swindon and signposted “Football Traffic”. The ground is on the corner of the Magic Roundabout.
There are some spaces up for grabs at the stadium, which will cost you £10. But why do that and chance it if you can park in one of the many town centre car parks within half a miles of the ground? You could also find some street parking in the area too.
Services to: LONDON PADDINGTON
Exit the station and head more or less straight across Station Road. Walk up Wellington Street and turn left into Manchester Road; continuing in a straight line for 0.4 miles. Upon reaching a roundabout, turn right for County Road with the cricket ground and the ground visible ahead.
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