50 Years Ago: 1964/65 October – A brief cameo by ‘Almost ten past Haffey’

1964 Stratton Bank - 50 Years

Mike Minihane continues his look back 50 years to events at the County Ground. Following Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’ Division Two during 1963/64, Town looked to consolidate; however football isn’t that simple…

Top of the Charts:  Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

September had been a bad month with two wins and five defeats but at least it had ended on a high with the 4-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town, even if they were bottom of the league. The following Saturday saw the visit of Derby County who were sixth in the league and going well. It started badly as Eddie Thomas gave the Rams an early lead and we all feared the worst but we rallied and by half time were 3-1 up thanks to two Ernie Hunt goals and a rare goal from full back Owen Dawson. Soon after half time Ernie Hunt completed his hat trick to give us an unassailable 4-1 lead. Derby scored with a late penalty but the 4-2 score line represented an emphatic and deserved victory.

Two consecutive home wins with eight goals scored went a long way to restoring belief and it was with optimism that we went to Highfield Road the following Saturday to face Coventry City. Our away form hadn’t improved however and we were soon two goals down, but thanks to a quick reply from Ken Skeen and an Ernie Hunt penalty we were on terms at half time. The game could have gone either way in the second half but thanks to a late goal the Sky Blues ran out narrow 3-2 winners. The performance however suggested that we were improving on our travels.

Southampton were our next visitors and our games with them were always strongly contested as was the rivalry between the two sets of fans. For once Terry Paine and Martin Chivers didn’t score and with five minutes to go the score stood at 1-1 with Ken Skeen having got on the score sheet for the second game running. Then, with time running out, up popped Keith ‘Gladys’ Morgan with his only goal of the season for the winner. Victories over the Saints were always sweet.

1964-65 October Results

The pattern of good home form and poor away form was now well entrenched. Away we’d lost all six games; at home we’d won six and lost one. We had yet to draw a game. This was well before the era of three points for a win however and we were down to 14th in the league. With our next visitors, Cardiff City, languishing at the foot of the league we approached our next home fixture with justifiable confidence. On paper Cardiff had a decent side with four Welsh internationals including a young Peter Rodrigues and a rather older Mel Charles.

We started very well with a goal from the in-form Ken Skeen and another from Mike Summerbee to give us a 2-0 half time lead. Then, thanks to a very poor refereeing decision, things started to go wrong.  Trollope brought down their winger, Greg Farrell, at least a yard outside the penalty area. To the fury of the crowd the referee gave a penalty which Barry Hole stepped up to take. I have to concede that his penalty was one of the best I ever saw as he ran up to take it with his right foot and then switched to his left, rolling the ball into one corner as Norman Oakley went the other way.  Not long after however Peter Leggett who had come into the side as right winger to enable Summerbee to operate as a central striker, restored our two goal advantage. Leading 3-1 with just over twenty minutes to go we should have been able to see it out but it wasn’t to be. City threw Mel Charles forward to take advantage of his well-known ability in the air and he duly obliged with two excellent headed goals for a final 3-3 score. It had been an entertaining game with six goals scored but given our away form we were not in a position to drop home points.

In an attempt to shore up the defence we’d signed a new keeper, Frank Haffey, a somewhat eccentric ex-Celtic player and Scottish international whose claim to fame was conceding nine goals in Scotland’s 9-3 defeat to England at Wembley in 1961; which gave birth to the joke ‘What’s the time? It’s almost ten past Haffey’. Perhaps not surprisingly it was his last game for Scotland.

Frank was what in current terminology is known as a ‘big unit’. In those days the opposing centre forward would always clatter the keeper whenever a cross came over. In Frank’s case they just bounced off him. He made his debut in our next game away to Preston which we lost 1-2 with Summerbee getting our late consolation goal. The following Saturday he made his home debut against Ipswich Town and helped us to a convincing 3-1 win, courtesy of goals from Bill Atkins, Mike Summerbee and an own goal. Frank was only to play four games for us; he left the following month after a rumoured bust up with Manager Bert Head because he refused to dive on the car park concrete surface during training. He went on to move to Australia where he became a cabaret singer. You couldn’t make it up!

So the Jekyll and Hyde pattern continued. Of our four home games we had registered three wins and a rather unlucky draw; away we had lost twice. This was not too worrying as long as our home form remained. However with home games against Bolton Wanderers and high-flying Newcastle United and a trip to Middlesbrough to come in November some of us were starting to feel nervous.

1964-65 October Table

 

Table and results from Statto.com

At Home with the Bodins: Does Billy Bodin still wear dresses?

Billy Bodin 2

In our first dip into the weird and wonderful world of the Swindon Town Matchday Programme, this article from August 1994 raises a few questions about former Town player Billy Bodin and does he still wear dresses? Aww isn’t the two-year old Bodin cute…

At Home with the Bodins

Click image to open

50 Years Ago: 1964/65 September – Jekyll and Hyde

1964 Stratton Bank - 50 Years

Mike Minihane continues his look back 50 years to events at the County Ground. Following Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’ Division Two during 1963/64, Town looked to consolidate; however football isn’t that simple…

Top of the Charts:  You Really Got Me – The Kinks

September was going to be a very busy month with seven league games scheduled as well as a League Cup tie at Swansea Town. First up was a trip to Crystal Palace who we had beaten quite easily 2-0 only a week before. It turned out to be an easy win for Palace who strolled home 3-1 with Mike Summerbee getting our consolation goal. The following Saturday another London trip to Palace’s neighbours Charlton Athletic was to prove equally unrewarding as despite taking the lead through Bill Atkins a very late goal gave Charlton a 3-2 win. This was to be the shape of things to come away from home as we continued to ship goals at an alarming rate.

Mercifully things were going better at home and the following Tuesday brought a very welcome 3-0 win over Swansea Town with two goals from Bill Atkins and one from Ernie Hunt. The contrast between home form and away form was marked, with three wins and three clean sheets at home compared to three defeats and twelve goals conceded on our travels.

The following Saturday brought a highly anticipated visit from Manchester City; the memories of our superb performance the previous season were still fresh. This time however it was to be very different as despite playing well a goal from the predatory and prolific Derek Kevan gave City the points. I can still remember him being put through one on one with Tony Hicks at the Stratton Bank End. The outcome was inevitable, he made it look so easy.

1964-65 September Results

For some unknown reason the fixtures in this era often produced two games against the same opposition in consecutive weeks. Having just played Palace twice in eight days the same situation arose with Swansea Town who took full revenge for their 0-3 loss the previous week with a 4-0 demolition job at the Vetch Field. Four days later things went from bad to worse as we slumped to a dismal 0-5 defeat at Portsmouth.

Our draw in the First Round of the League Cup had given us Swansea away, the third meeting between the clubs in two weeks. Unfortunately we hadn’t learnt anything from our 0-4 hammering the previous week and our hopes of progressing in the competition went out of the window with a 1-3 defeat, Ken Skeen getting our goal. We had now lost six away games in a row, conceding twenty-four goals. It was pretty obvious that the defence needed shoring up but there was no money for signings and Bert Head clearly had no idea as to how to stop the rot, in one interview he maintained that the problem was that we weren’t kicking the ball hard enough away from home. Even to me this sounded clueless. We needed a gritty 0-0 away draw to start to restore some belief but it would be almost Christmas before we got anything from an away game.

The month did at least end positively with an emphatic 4-1 home win against bottom placed Huddersfield Town, courtesy of goals from Summerbee, Hunt, Smart and Rogers. At home we were Doctor Jekyll, we could play well and win, but away from home we were Edward Hyde, a complete contrast. Our split personality form would keep us above the relegation zone but if Doctor Jekyll got the shakes we were going to be in the mire.

1964-65 September Table

Table and results from Statto.com

The best I’ve ever seen #2: Will Dixon

Will Dixon 2

We continue our new feature in which we’ll review some of our favourite Swindon Town players, matches, performances, kits etc; Vic Morgan tells us who his favourite player is…

If you’ve been watching your football team since the 1960s, it can be very difficult to say who your favourite player is. Yes there are some obvious candidates, the “Don” Rogers, John Trollope, Steve White, Glenn Hoddle, Colin Calderwood etc etc. However when push comes to shove and when people ask me who my favourite Town player is, the answer may be a little surprising.

He was a player who epitomised effort, spirit and downright determination and he had a killer moustache. A former Arsenal trainee at the time of Pat Rice and Charlie George, right-back Will Dixon arrived at the County Ground towards the end of 1973 from Colchester United.

It wasn’t a great time in the Town’s history. In fact at times it was downright miserable. We were well post-1969 and League Cup success which brought Anglo Italian trophies in its wake. We were entering a rebuilding phase. Danny Williams was to return for a second spell as manager, and we would eventually end up with one of the most exciting sides I’ve ever seen in Swindon’s Red and White.

Will made his debut for the Town on the first New Years Day bank holiday fixture; after all that bank holiday had only just been introduced – younger readers may find that surprising. It was a home game against Preston North End. Swindon were winning 2-1 which was a rarity in a miserable season. When Preston were awarded a penalty, Jimmy Allen saved the spot kick and the ball went to the other end where Ray Treacy stabbed home the third. Fantastic game, which helped with the hangover.

What I loved about Will’s play was his never say die spirit. He was part of a team that excited in Division Three with the likes of Trevor Anderson, Peter Eastoe, Dave Syrett, Dave Moss etc. I loved watching that team and to me they hit their peak when they demolished Colchester 4-1 in one particular home game in November 1974. Goals took a while to come for Dixon, his first came in August 1975 – a winner at Aldershot. Then he notched up a further seven that season in a run of 16 League games following a move into a more attacking role.

The one thing that escaped that side was promotion back into the Second Division, something that wouldn’t happen again till the mid eighties. By then Will was long gone. Released in 1977, the right back moved onto Aldershot.

Swindon fans were so disgusted by that decision that they made a collection to buy him a crystal glass set as a memento of his time. The memory of course plays tricks with your mind, but I will always say Will is my favourite Town player. Spirited, unfussy, and determined, everything I love in a player.

Oh and he shares his name with a great bluesman as well, can’t be bad.

Yes THE GREAT WILL DIXON.

Season LEAGUE FA CUP LEAGUE CUP OTHER TOTAL
Played Gls Played Gls Played Gls Played Gls Played Gls
’76/’77 38 (+1) 2 7 1 2 - - - 47 (+1) 3
’75/’76 41 (+3) 6 4 (+1) 2 3 - - - 48 (+4) 8
’74/’75 38 (+2) 2 5 - 1 - - - 44 (+2) 2
’73/’74 17 - 2 - - - - - 19 -
TOTAL 134 (+6) 10 18 (+1) 3 6 - - - 158 (+7) 13

Playing statistics from swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Want to nominate an entry into our ‘Best I’ve Ever Seen’ feature? – please email thewashbag[at]gmail[dot]com with your nomination and we’ll be in touch

The best I’ve ever seen #1: Rory Fallon’s overhead strike vs Bristol City. 10 April 2004

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In the first of a new feature celebrating the best matches, goals, players, kits, moments etc at Swindon Town, Alex Cooke still gets excited by the stunning chest-trap and overhead volley scored against Bristol City by Swindon’s Kiwi striker Rory Fallon.

New Zealand is most famous as background. That says a lot about a country. Two beautiful and pathologically civilised islands have a global reputation for pretending to be somewhere else. The islands’ footballers have always been similarly modest. And they should be. They play twenty-second fiddle to rugby, pro-am shove ha’penny, competitive Concords watching and twanging yourself off stuff with elastic bands.

Rory Fallon fitted the stereotype although at first he’d seemed like a brute, announcing himself to with a goal for Barnsley against Swindon. He butted a header through, not past, Bart Griemink at Oakewell. But once Andy King had brought him to Swindon he showed his true nature, becoming back-up to Tommy Mooney and Sam Parkin. They were a prolific partnership, but against Bristol City, the Mooney/Parkin pairing hadn’t worked. Fallon was thrust into the limelight alongside them in the 66th minute.

Goals are defined by their context: of the game in which they are scored, of the season and of the scorer’s career. But Fallon’s goal is great because stands distinct from its context. It doesn’t matter that it was a promotion battle: Swindon were pushing for the play-offs and Bristol City were also chasing promotion (Obviously they didn’t get it. Evil never triumphs).

This was a goal totally unsuited to the doughy, stodgy derby in which it sat. This was a goal of which more creative men should write songs, more delicate men should write poems and more talented men could describe in less than 600 words.

It started with a hoof. Well with Matt Heywood and Alan Reeves at the back that season, most things did. Fallon used his ample chest, less to control the ball than knock it high into the air. At first it looked like a mistake. Then he fell elegantly back, swinging a sequoia-like leg above his head and arcing the ball into the net.

Again it looked like a mistake. The ball seemed destined to slam into the Town End roof. Instead it drew out a long parabola, crashing just under the bar. ‘Keeper Steve Phillips clawed at it but his efforts were feeble and twatty.

Okay, the defender could have been closer to Fallon, denying him the room to control and swing his boot. And some on YouTube seem to think the ‘keeper could have done better (although many of the commentators on there seem to think the Queen Mother inserted sticks into boys and ate them like toffee apples).

The strike didn’t earn Rory Fallon the place among the select few – he modestly remained in the background. “I want to get picked if I deserve to get picked but I’m not going to hassle him” [manager Andy King], hardly the attitude of a man who has just scored what can be called a thunderbastard.

A play off goal against Brighton again seemed to be a scene stealer but wasn’t. And while the departures of Mooney, Parkin and pretty much every other good player, made him the only leading light, he never really dominated. Even among the loanees, misfits and Micheal Pook.

Instead Swansea, Plymouth and Aberdeen went on to benefit from his services. In the backwaters of Scotland he again thrust himself out of the background, scoring a goal for the Dons, much like the one described here. But it wasn’t the best I’ve ever seen.

Do you want to nominate an entry into our ‘Best I’ve Ever Seen’ feature? Pick the best match, goal, save, kit, goal celebration, promotion, team, player, substitute…the possibilities are endless. Contact us via the form below with your contact details and your nomination and we’ll be in touch.

 

50 Years Ago: 1964/65 August – Buried by the future King of the Kippax

1964 Stratton Bank - 50 Years 2

Mike Minihane continues his look back 50 years to events at the County Ground. Following Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’ Division Two during 1963/64, Town look to consolidate, however football isn’t that simple…

Top of the Charts:  A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

Having experienced my first full season the previous year I was by now totally addicted to Swindon Town. I would go to all home games and such away games as I could afford from the income generated by my Saturday morning butcher’s round.

When the first team were playing away I would watch the Reserves (the ‘stiffs’ as they were then known) in the Football Combination which was a very good league containing most Football League reserve teams in the south of the country, including many First Division clubs. You would often see First Division players who were returning from injury or who were out of favour. You could walk round the ground from the Town End to Stratton Bank, stand behind the visitor’s goal and exchange good-natured banter with the visiting keeper and talk to the players when there was a lull in the action – all this for next to nothing. Then there was the Youth Team to watch midweek and also occasionally Swindon Boys. I was totally immersed and obsessed.

Despite our poor finish to the previous season there was still great optimism about our prospects for what was to be only our second ever season In Division Two. The heady days of the previous August and September  when we had carried all before us were still fresh in the mind. Thus it was with a sense of expectation that we viewed our first fixture – a trip to Bury who had finished in a lowly 18th place the previous season.

It all started as well as it possibly could have with Town taking the lead within the first minute through Bill Atkins. Soon after however it all went pear-shaped when ‘keeper Norman Oakley sustained a cracked collarbone. This was the era before substitutes, let alone goalkeeper substitutes. Full back Owen Dawson went in goal and we were down to ten men. Bury certainly took full advantage and by half time had run in four goals to put the result in no doubt. Two more second half goals gave them a resounding, if a little fortunate, 6-1 victory.

A notable performance that day came from a young Bury player called Bell, who scored a hat trick. Colin Bell would go on to a glittering career with Manchester City, winning FA Cup and First Division champions medals, as well as 48 caps for England. Nicknamed the ‘King of the Kippax’ after the famous stand in Maine Road he is widely regarded as Manchester City’s greatest player.

After the Bury debacle it was good that we had a Tuesday night game to try and put things right. A young keeper called Tony Hicks who had come through the apprentice ranks came in for the injured Oakley. He looked rather short for a ‘keeper but compensated with excellent reflexes and was a very decent shot-stopper.

Our opponents were Crystal Palace, freshly promoted from Division Three. I don’t think that ‘park the bus’ was in currency as an expression in that era but that’s exactly what they did with a totally negative and defensive performance that prompted Bert Head to an uncharacteristic post-match rant. Justice was done however as in front of over 17,000 fans we saw them off 2-0 with a brace of Ernie Hunt goals and Tony Hicks keeping a clean sheet on this debut.

The following Saturday we hosted Leyton Orient for whom the young David Webb, later of Chelsea fame, was making only his third performance as right back and was marking Don Rogers. I remember that he had a very severe hair cut but already had the makings of a good player but he wasn’t quite good enough to prevent Don Rogers scoring the only goal of the game to give us our second victory in five days and put us a healthy 7th place in the League.

With two home games won after the heavy Bury defeat, for which there were extenuating circumstances, hopes were high for a very busy September with  no less than seven League games and a League Cup tie scheduled. It was going to be a busy month…

1964-65 August Table

Table from Statto.com

Hall of Shame #30: Richard Dryden

Richard Dryden - HoS

Our 30th entry into the Swindon Town Hall of Shame is a loanee from Southampton – Richard Dryden, who Ciaran Boast inducts into our STFC pantheon of crap…

Richard Dryden was born in Stroud on 14th June 1969 so he’s a fairly local lad. Before signing for Swindon Town on loan, the signs were there of a career which was spiralling down – and fast.

Defender Dryden had joined Southampton for £150,000 in 1996 via Bristol Rovers (playing under Terry Cooper – father of Town boss Mark), Exeter City, Notts County, Birmingham City and Bristol City. After initially making 35 appearances that season, a succession of managers at the Dell ensured he would sit waiting for the first team. He spent most of the 1998/99 season in the Southampton reserves and made only four first team appearances for the club during that season.

Following a three game loan spell with Stoke City, Dryden returned to the Dell and made one final appearance at Newcastle United on the 16th January 2000. Unfortunately for Dryden, it wasn’t the most inspiring final appearance for the Saints. Dryden’s outing was disastrous and painful to watch as he and his teammates were beaten 5-0. He quickly returned to Stoke for another short spell before being sent out on loan to lowly Northampton Town. A spell at Swindon was next thanks to manager ‘Andy King’ who had replaced the departing Colin Todd and is fondly remembered for puffing on cigars and being on gardening leave more than Alan Titchmarsh.

Richard Dryden signed for Town on loan on 24th November 2000. Dryden’s loan spell got off to a calamitous start, he was part of a backline – featuring Sol Davis, Alan Willis, Alan Reeves and Mark Robinson – who struggled to hold their own consistently which suggests the reasoning behind him being signed for the club – to ultimately shore up the defence.

Dryden was credited with an own-goal in his Town debut at the County Ground on 25th November 2000 versus Stoke City after just 8 minutes; and if my memory serves me right, he almost fell over his own feet and put the ball into his own net. A moment of sheer frustration from the home support who could clearly see that ‘Dryden’ looked immobile – too wooden and perhaps unfit. His own-goal certainly didn’t help in what was to become a 3-0 home loss – leaving Town firmly in the Division Two relegation zone.

It seemed as though there would be light at the end of the tunnel for Dryden though after two consecutive victories followed against Northampton Town and Rotherham United. It wasn’t to be, and Dryden’s final five appearances for the club all ended in defeat versus Bury, Brentford, Walsall, Coventry City and Port Vale. His defensive contribution was two wins, six defeats, one clean sheet and 12 goals conceded.

As I mentioned that defeat to Coventry City, let’s watch Dryden’s (he’s number 25) great effort after only 4 minutes of the game to track back and help out his teammates…

This loan move to Town was the beginning of the end for the former Southampton defender as he signed for Luton Town on a permanent contract on the 2nd February 2001. He only managed 23 appearances before being shipped out to Scarborough, Worksop Town, Tamworth and Shepshed Dynamo.

It gets more interesting though for Dryden who was appointed assistant manager of Tamworth when current Swindon Town Boss Mark Cooper took charge of the club in April 2004. He left the club at the same time as Cooper. He later joined Cooper again at Darlington – they were then both dismissed on the 14th October 2011. He is now the youth team coach at York City – I wonder if he will soon end up back at our club seeing the Cooper family links?

Dryden was waiting to hear if he would be signed permanently by Swindon Town in January 2001, thankfully it wasn’t the case as Swindon snapped up a young defender from Burnley by the name of Matt Heywood. Thanks Richard, but no-thanks.

As for Town in 2000/2001, the season was a disaster. After being relegated from the second tier the year before Town only avoided relegation courtesy of a last-minute wonder goal from Danny Invincibile in a must-win game at home to Peterborough. Town went into the last week of the season just four points clear of relegation, but having played two games more than Bristol Rovers. Amazingly, Rovers throw it away – losing their two games in hand at home to Port Vale and Wycombe – and after a last day hammering at Stoke City, Swindon avoid a successive relegation by a single point.

A Fun Fact: Dryden was nicknamed ‘trigger’ by his Saints teammates after the dim-witted Only Fools and Horses character. He once reported his car stolen, before realising he had driven it to a phone box and left it there. Thank the lord for mobile phones these days…

Read More Tales from the STFC Hall of Shame…