Hans Tandsether of Norwegian STFC blog HeiaSwindon continues his monthly view on events at the County Ground.
Dear friends and fans of Swindon Town Football Club. The Norwegian review for January was not to be as I was way too busy moving to a bigger house with my family and I did not have internet connection for some days in the middle of moving. Now we are slowly settling down in our new home and my daughter who turned two years old earlier in January just loves it.
2012 has started with a buzz for me and my family and it sure has started with a buzz for my beloved football team as well. Ten League games won in a row. When was last time that happened? Never!
As I’ve talked about before, manager Paolo Di Canio did have a steep learning curve when he took up management in League Two last summer. During the season we’ve seen many of his continental players leave Swindon because they did not cope with the transfer from European football and to the English style.
Di Canio underestimated the level but he was a fast learner. In the January transfer window we have probably done our two best signings since Matt Ritchie. Luke Rooney and Paul Benson have both made an instant impact and we have not lost a single league game ever since they came into the team.
As for January the high point for me was the FA Cup match at home to Wigan. I was able to watch it on television with my dad-in-law. It was his first game with Swindon on telly, but I was able to drag him to England to watch Luton – Swindon a couple of seasons back. He’s a Liverpool fan however and pretty much more into biathlon and cross country skiing. I think he was kind of impressed with the game against Premier League opponents.
There is not much to say about every single game in January and February. We’ve played some great football but more important; we’ve played some bad games and still gotten away with three points. That hasn’t happened at STFC for some seasons and could be just this season’s greatest achievement. Is it because of the tough physical training regime imposed by the Italians during pre-season? We don’t seem to lose points in the last minutes as we did all the time (!) with Danny Wilson and even before him.
In Norway Lillestrom FK has been the team that has tried to press their players with physical training the most. When former manager Tom Nordlie was in charge the players opposed his regime and he eventually got fired. This season a Swede with the same philosophy took over the club, and after a 1-5 loss in pre-season the team announced that they would “train a little less” in the coming weeks before the league starts. Swindon Town and Paolo Di Canio have however had success with the tough regime – and although it has cost blood and tears from the players, and players have even left Swindon because of it – we have come out in the right end much stronger than I’ve seen for some good years.
Di Canio is a top class man and you got to love his passion. Even if the FA surely are on our tails now it was quite refreshing that Di Canio still had punts to the men in suits over at Wembley. “Give me 10 games and we will still win the league”… fashionable arrogant, we say in Norway.
Another high point during the first two months of 2012 is that we’ve qualified for a Wembley cup final for the first time since 1969.
The sad part for me is that I won’t be able to go and see Swindon at Wembley in late March. Since we’ve been moving and already booked a holiday for this summer I couldn’t afford it. I tried playing with the numbers, but I would have had to spend around £700 for a weekend all included – and I just couldn’t afford it this time.
On the bright side there will still be Swindon fans from Norway attending. My good Swindon mate Bernt and a friend of him will be seated in row 5 just behind the goal on the 25th – in the middle of the snake pit! Keep an eye out for them – they will bring with them a Norwegian flag as well!
Last night Swindon played their last game of February at home to Burton Albion. The 28th of February is also my birthday and it tasted real good to round off my 35th birthday with three points.
This Saturday we will be up against Oxford United at Kassam and nothing would be more pleasing then to get our 11th win in a row against our fierce rivals in yellow and blue.
Have a pint for me both at Oxford and at Wembley. I will be following closely through Twitter, Facebook, STFC World, TEF, thewashbag.com and of course live stream from Wembley. It’s a minor comfort that the game will be able on stream, but I would sure love to have been there. Well at last I hope I can travel to Swindon to watch League One football next season.
COYR and best of wishes from Norwegian Red!