Confessions of a Swindon Town Press Officer…

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In the final part of our Swindon Town ‘Confessions’ series, Jason Ludditch reflects on his time as the Press Officer at the County Ground, being gatekeeper to information; seeing waving man bits; and putting banana skins on the cover of the matchday programme…

Any current or former employee of a football club could confess to a multitude of sins they’ve seen or experienced. There really is nothing quite like it. Football and all those who play a part in it, from the players to coaching and behind-scenes staff, board members and all those on the periphery… it’s all utterly compelling.

Club parties, team nights out, away days, events in the players’ tunnel, training ground and boardroom – club employees have a front-row pass to the lot. However, this pass comes with a certain degree of trust. So, if you’re expecting tales of debauchery, misdemeanor and more you might be slightly disappointed!

First and foremost, it is a privilege to see the inner machinations of a football club. No two days were ever the same. One day you could be helping another department, perhaps printing names on the back of shirts in the club shop, on another you’d be driving members of coaching staff to the bookies to place a bet on the nags, you never really knew what you’d be doing.

Some of us would often be asked to drive new signings to their hotel or digs. This was awesome, of course, but a real eye opener. In many case, these guys were younger than my 21-24-year-old self at the time – and moving away from home for the first time. Not surprisingly, some would be nervous about moving to a new area and living on their own. It’s not always as glamorous as you might expect.

Arguably the best memory I have is sharing desk space with Fraser Digby, while the most famous person I encountered was John Motson. Motty wanted a lift from Swindon station when he came to cast his expert eye over a training session in the build up to the FA Cup defeat against Oxford in 2002. We were poor, we lost, and they drew Arsenal in the next round. However, shooting the shit with Motson was epic, even more so listening back to some of the nuggets of info we’d discussed beforehand.

I would often attend training sessions, which would be incredibly revealing. They provided a fascinating insight into group dynamics; not all players get on well, y’know, far from it in some cases. You’d find out which players were loners, for example, or those who were troublemakers. You’d see what went into the planning of sessions, how players interacted with the coaching staff and catch a glimpse of those on trial before anyone else knew about them.

There are worse ways to make a living, but it wasn’t without its pitfalls.

For example, you wouldn’t believe the lengths some players would go to avoid doing an interview or community appearance. Some would purposely sneak from a different exit, others would take so long getting changed you would have to give up waiting. Some players were better at this than others. I remember once having to chase a lad around a golf course on print deadline day in an effort to get an interview and makeshift photo shoot [the photographer didn’t have time to hang around].

It was certainly easier developing relationships with some players than others. Some are complex characters. A training ground is like any office… you get all sorts.

Then there’s the precarious nature of the interview subject. One year, we produced an A4 programme for a pre-season triple-header. Sadly, on print deadline day, the cover star was sold, giving us hours to find a replacement. Whether he knew he was off or not, who knows, but things in football can change quickly… quite often with players unsure of their own futures.

On another occasion, one interview had to be cut short thanks to the repeated high jinx of a teammate [who will remain nameless] but who repeatedly ran out of the dressing room and around us waving his man bits.

Talking of programme covers, who remembers Ilkeston Town in the FA Cup in November 2000? Swindon’s form was sketchy to say the least (one win in nine) and there was an overriding sense of negativity. This game was a potential ‘banana skin’… but quite why we decided to put an actual picture of a banana skin underneath Danny Invincibile’s foot on the front page is still beyond my comprehension. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It wasn’t. I was almost sacked, and was given a good canning by the gaffer live on air.

It’s probably safe to say the press department had a love/hate relationship with players and management staff. They loved us when we won, hated speaking to us when we lost. I can still recall the sense of dread when greeted by one manager’s customary aggressive ‘what do you want’ on a Monday morning following defeat. There was never a right time to call, no correct questions to ask.

Winning and losing is everything when you work in football. The highs are high but the lows can be brutal. As a fan, if your team loses you’re probably annoyed for one night, maybe a weekend. Defeat lingers long in the air in any football club office. A win sells programmes, items in the club shop, hospitality packages, sponsorship and tickets. For a press officer, it means players are more willing to do interviews and community projects. It means press enquiries are largely for the right reasons. The pressure to win, and for everyone to succeed in their particular role, is immense and constant.

The office itself was intriguing. When board members popped in and out mischievously on their mobile you always knew things were afoot, whether it was a new signing or something more sinister. And rumours would always spread like wildfire, from the kitchen to the maintenance staff and back to the office. Simply seeing who popped in to see the manager on a weekday, or the boardroom on matchdays, would be enlightening.

Funnily enough, the media team – gatekeepers of information to the supporters – was often the last to find out anything. New signings usually had to be signed and sealed before we were allowed to a) find out and b) unleash the news. The club secretary or secretary to the chief exec often knew more. In my case, they’d never spill a bean.

The most precarious part of working in a football club office was answering the phones. Our system at the time was antiquated and I once saw the manager pass through and pick up a call from another manager enquiring about the availability of his job, which he had not yet vacated!

On another occasion, someone from accounts answered a call from Sir Alex Ferguson. With our manager in the office the accountant, not knowing who was on the other end of the line merely said: ‘Got Alex on the phone for you,” The accountant never lived it down.

Arguably the worst part of being a press officer at a football club has to be dealing with negative events. Christmas parties and team nights out gone wrong, everyday mischief or worse, dealing with local/national press when the club is embroiled in financial/takeover/political chaos. Everyone wants to know what’s going on. Everyone wants to speak to the key protagonists, who often don’t want to be contacted. Quite often, you’re in the dark and if it involves a takeover or financial difficulty your own future can be in doubt.

Sometimes you can know too much. Other times, when you’re put in a position where you have to promote, publicise or defend something you might disagree with… it’s often you that has to contend with any collateral damage.

You only have to look at the club’s official social media to see what sort of comments current staff has to deal with, and that’s with the team chasing promotion! I can only thank my lucky stars Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist ‘on my watch’.

So, spare a thought for the humble press officer. Better still – buy them a pint. Then you’ll get some real confessions…

Read our other STFC Confessions…

Confessions of: An Oxford United rosette wearer…

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We continue our short series of confessions from Swindon Town fans. Quite frankly Brendan Hobbs’ confession really deserves a place in our Hall of Shame as he was ‘duped’ into wearing an Oxford United rosette…

I have a confession, a terrible confession, a really shocking admission that I’ve only ever shared with a handful of people. I did something you see, something so awful that I’m genuinely afraid of the consequences. So please try to remember this: I was very young.

Deep breath. Wow, here goes. (Downs a neat whiskey) I have worn an Oxford United rosette. (Glugs from the bottle) I’ll pause and let that sink in. At first you’ll be confused, a little upset but then you’ll be angry, so very angry, furniture breakingly angry.

So before violence ensues I’ll quickly garble something else out, because it gets worse. (Starts the car) I willingly wore it – for an entire 90mins of a football match. (Jumps in and wheel-spins off the drive).

Now before you grab a pitch fork, light your torch and place various snooker balls in a sock let me explain.

It was 1986 and my dad had managed to score a couple of tickets for the first ever Merseyside derby FA Cup final. So off to Wembley we both went and like all FA Cup finals that took place in my childhood it was a boiling hot day. The crowds were amazing, a huge thronging mass of humanity, red and blue merging together in one seething river.

There were thousands of food vendors, memorabilia merchants and purveyors of match day merchandise with not a whiff of any corporate or sponsor influences. No ‘Official <insert sponsors name here>’ scarfs, hats, pencil sharpeners, novelty hot water bottles or airport pillows.

There were a million other colours, smells and nises intermingling with the hot air, it was like being transported to a Moroccan Kasbah, so alive, so many cans of beer being drunk and dodgy looking coppers wandering around. My peripheral vision danced with images of cheap combustible flags, bobble hats and rosettes. Not once did I glimpse a half-n-half scarf or a Coca Cola sponsored foam glove. It was wondrous, just how I imagined it to be and more.

My dad offered to buy me a souvenir from one of the stalls, I chose an Everton rosette as I loved Gary Lineker plus we both knew we would be sat amongst Everton fans. It was a simple affair, a shiny two-tone ruffled blue ribbon circled around a white disc which boldly held the toffees club crest.

We entered the stadium, which was alive with a stereotypical marching band, standing fans, sandy dog track and noise, lots and lots of noise.

The game came and went in the blink of an eye; my adopted team for the day lost 3-1 and blew the chance of a historic double. But nevertheless it was an amazing day all round.

In those days I kept a journal, where I would write a brief couple of lines about each day. I filled an entire page with all my memories of that crazy occasion, meticulously cataloguing all the sights and sounds. I decided that I would pin my rosette onto the page also, to give it the journal some texture and some protection to my souvenir.

To make it stick I had to lift the white disc slightly, which I did and to my surprise the disc started to work itself away from the ribbon, revealing another disc hidden behind, a much yellower disc. Intrigued I worked it back a bit more allowing me a peek at what looked like a stylised Ox’s head. I recoiled in total horror. I was Stephen Rea gaping at Jaye Davidson’s slightly greasy cock n’ balls in the Crying Game, I was Ed Norton staring with total bewilderment at Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

I had to shower. I sat there in the tray sobbing big tears, whilst manically loofering myself until I bled.

With the sense of betrayal and disgust left gurgling in the plughole I returned to the scene of the crime. And it was just sat there, grinning with mischief – still where I’d lobbed it away in horror.

Eventually I plucked up the courage and snapped on a pair of mother’s marigolds to grab it, ready to give it a post mortem. After a full forensic inspection it appeared that my treasured rosette was in fact a recycled remnant of Oxford United’s League Cup triumph a month or so earlier. The cheap merchandise vendor had obviously overestimated the volume of Oxfords monster travelling support and overstocked a tad on merchandise. But being a Laaandon market seller I guarantee that he was a little bit waaaay and a little bit woooo so he simply stapled an Everton badge over the top of the Oxford one and hey presto, who would care?

Well I blimin’ did. And I still do. You bastard.

Read our other confessions…

Kasim thanks fans after winning Swindon Town poll

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After Yaser Kasim won the recent poll for the greatest Swindon Town player of the 21st century, the Iraqi speaks to Ben Wills…

Originally posted on Benjamin Wills' Blog:

Yaser Kasim has lavished praise on his fans after he was voted Swindon Town’s greatest player of the 21st Century in a recent poll by BenjaminWillsBlog.

“It’s a great achievement, I personally want to win football games rather than awards but I’m thankful for all the people that voted and thankful that the Swindon fans have taken me to their heart.”

The Iraq International, 23, has made a huge impact in Swindon since he arrived from Brighton and Hove Albion on a free transfer last summer.

So much so that he captained the side in a 1-1 draw against Coventry City on August 30 2014 due to regular skipper Nathan Thompson missing the game due to a suspension.

“Yes, very much so! (This is a proud honour for me), considering I’ve only been here for a year. I’m particularly proud of the team right now also and enjoying the…

View original 189 more words

50 Years Ago: 1964/65 November – No Jekyll, just 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:  Baby Love – The Supremes

November was going to be a challenging month with home games against Bolton Wanderers and Newcastle United and visits to Plymouth Argyle and Middlesbrough. Three of these teams were early promotion contenders. Newcastle were strongly fancied to make a return to the First Division and were sitting in second place behind surprise division leaders Northampton Town. Plymouth were in fourth place and Bolton in fifth. Middlesbrough were way down in tenth place so that was the ‘easy’ game.

The first game was at Plymouth. In their line-up was Tony Book, a late starter in the professional game who when signing had been advised by manager Malcolm Allison to doctor his birth certificate by shaving off two years as Allison felt that the club would not be prepared to take on a 30 year old. Book later followed Allison to Manchester City and in an illustrious career of 242 league appearances became the most decorated Manchester City captain of all time in terms of trophies won. He became the classic example of a player who could make a successful career when it seemed that all opportunities had passed by.

In terms of the game Bill Atkins put Town ahead in the 44th minute, a great time to score if you can hold the lead until half time. Regrettably, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Town were unable to do this and in the following minute Mike Trebilcock equalised to make it 1-1 at the break. Half way through the second half Plymouth were awarded a penalty which was converted by Nicky Jennings and with no further goals Plymouth took the points. This was Town’s eighth away loss in a row. Trebilcock later moved to Everton and was to score two goals in their 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the 1966 FA Cup Final.

1964-65 November Results

The visit of Bolton Wanderers the following Saturday seemed unlikely to stop the rot. Wanderers had both Francis Lee and Wyn Davies in their attack, two of the most prolific goal scorers in the division. And so it proved as Lee scored twice and Davies once in a demolition job with Town’s only reply coming from a John Trollope penalty. Davies moved to Newcastle and became one in their long line of iconic number 9s; Lee and Davies later played together at Manchester City where Lee was particularly successful scoring 112 goals in 248 games. He still holds the record for the most penalties scored in a season which earned him the nickname’ Lee Won Pen’, due more to his fondness for the occasional dive than any oriental ancestry.

The following Saturday’s visit to mid table Middlesbrough did nothing to lift the spirits. An early goal from Mel Nurse, who was to become a big favourite at Swindon when he moved the following year, set the scene. The bright spot was an equaliser from debutant Keith East before half time but then three second half goals gave Boro a comfortable win and Swindon their ninth consecutive away defeat.

The North East theme continued the following Saturday with the visit of second placed Newcastle United. As soon as they ran out in their immaculate black and white strip I feared the worst, they just looked so formidable, and indeed they were. We were a goal down in less than a minute when Alan Suddick scored and then shortly after a little jock called Willie Penman got another. The momentum continued as Newcastle scored twice more before the break with our only reply being a Trollope penalty, his second in three games. After the break Penman rubbed salt in our wounds with his second and a late goal from Stan Anderson completed a 6-1 rout. This was total humiliation.

Willie Penman, the little jock, was of course to sign for Town in 1966 and become a firm favourite with the fans for his skill and tenacity, making a substitute appearance in the 1969 League Cup final victory over Arsenal at Wembley.

This had been as bad a month as it was possible to have; four games, four defeats, four goals scored – two being penalties – and fourteen conceded. Hardly surprisingly we had slumped to twentieth place in the league, only one above the relegation places. The humiliation at the hands of Newcastle had been particularly ghastly. We were clearly out of our depth and in total free-fall.

1964-65 November Table

Table and results from

Confessions of… a Mascot Designer…

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To continue our short series of confessions from Swindon Town fans, David Squires admits was the man responsible for designing Rockin’ Robin…

A couple of weeks ago, the mascot for the 2015 Asian Cup was revealed. ‘Nutmeg’ is a large wombat who wears a fixed smirk and a left eyebrow that is permanently arched. The promotional photograph of him standing behind some Australian children therefore took on a something of sinister tone.

Naturally, and appropriately, the design drew some criticism. Mascots are rubbish and succeed only in amusing unintentionally (as illustrated by this wonderful collection of photographs of mascots observing minutes silences, highlighting just how ridiculous we have become as a species:

But despite my loathing of mascots, I have to admit a certain amount of sympathy for whichever sap was given the task of designing Nutmeg, because for a short time in the late nineties I was that sap, and it was in that role that I designed Rockin’ Robin.

Bear with me here, I need to go back a bit.

At the time, I was trying to eke out a career as an illustrator, with very little success. Eventually, it was Swindon Town who took pity on me and I was commissioned to produce a caricature of Steve McMahon to be sold as a print in the shop. This was during the height of McMahon’s popularity, as he had just won Swindon a league title. I set to work on a Godfather-style parody, with a brooding McMahon peering out at the viewer in a Don Corleone-like pose. I dropped it in at the club and returned home, where I prepared for the inevitable barrage of phone calls bidding for my services.

A few weeks of silence passed before I went back into the club to have another chat with the marketing manager. They wouldn’t be able to use the picture, as “Steve” wasn’t happy with it. Still, they did have another project in mind. It was at this point that our conversation was interrupted by none other than “Steve” himself. It was all I could do to stop myself from dropping to my knees and showering his Mizuno trainers in kisses.  The marketing manager introduced me. “Steve, this is Dave – the man who did that Godfather cartoon”. McMahon’s face contracted, his lips pursed into a tight knot, eyes widening. “You cunt”, he hissed, “You made me look like Paul fucking Daniels”.

“Well, Steve, if the skull cap fits, mate” was the response I later dreamed of dispatching to his stupid pink face, but at the time the most I could summon was a nervous laugh and a weak explanation about the complexity of caricature work,  but he’d already turned on his heels and stropped off.

Despite the psychologically scarring impact of this brief exchange, I still had the ‘other project’. The club wanted me to redesign their mascot.

When I first started following Swindon in a serious way, the mascot was just a bloke in a ‘moonraker’ smock. There was no foam padding to protect him from the rain of coins from the away fans penned into ‘The Wedge’; no mask of anonymity to hide his face from the drinkers in his local. As football began to change, someone at the club must have decided that what people really wanted was a show off in a synthetic fibre animal costume. The cumulative effect of thousands of indifferent eyes must have worn this first Rockin’ Robin costume thin, so a re-boot was in order.

I’ll be honest, my heart wasn’t in it, but I followed the brief closely.  Just count yourselves lucky that I resisted suggestions to include those twin identifiers of cool: sunglasses and a baseball cap worn backwards. You all know what he looks like; the costume is mostly the same today. What you may have forgotten is the existence of his short-lived sidekick, ‘Funky Fledgling’, who I designed but – importantly – did NOT name. They wanted that character to be edgey and – oh God – ‘cheeky’, which I expressed in my design by giving him a cape. It was never really established what the relationship was between the two mascots, but Funky Fledgling didn’t stick around very long. Perhaps the dominant robin killed and ate his rival, perhaps a cat got him, or perhaps the drama student who ‘played’ him finished his Drama A-level and moved away to university.

I don’t think I even got paid the pathetically low fee I had negotiated. Around this time the club was in the midst of a routine financial implosion and I didn’t want to add to the list of angry creditors by demanding remuneration for something that I was ashamed of. Not that I’ve ever been allowed to forget my involvement in his creation. “He’s fun, isn’t he?” my friends deadpan whenever Rockin’ is body popping in front of the Town End, and I can always tell if they’ve had time to kill before a game when I receive items of memorabilia bearing his image in the post (the current fridge magnet tally stands at four).

This, however, was not the end of my mascot designing career. The costume manufacturers asked me to provide some more designs as clubs across the land all came to the conclusion that what they really needed to get fans back through their gates was an owl or a fox or a swan or a dog or a lion or a tiger or a dinosaur or a bear or a duck or a lion or a lion or a lion or a lion or a lion or a lion blankly waving at the family enclosure.

I think the worst costume I designed was the Champions League logo driving a Ford Focus, with its feet sticking out of the bottom like Fred Flintstone.

I did a lot of designs for charities and local authorities and a few for rugby league clubs, but thankfully the only design I ever submitted for a football club that got made was Herbie the Hammer at West Ham. My sketch of the costume depicted Herbie in an action pose heading a football. The manufacturers clearly took this too literally, as when they produced the final outfit they made it so that the eyes in his hammer face were always looking up, as if asking the heavens why he had been cursed with such a grotesquely angular head. Herbie also had a teddy bear accomplice, ‘Bubbles’ which I never really understood the point of.

Bizarrely, at one point Timmy Mallet threatened legal action against West Ham, as he believed Herbie infringed the copyright of Mallet’s Mallet. Seriously. However, it wasn’t the prospect of a lengthy court battle with a 1980s television presenter that ended my mascot-designing career, but the request to create a female cat character for Bristol City.

I couldn’t control the urge to lumber them with a ridiculous mascot and got carried away, submitting a frankly offensive creation called ‘Trashton’. This really was a sign of my immaturity; all I had to do was design something inoffensively rubbish, but I got overexcited and drew a street drinker in a boob tube. I didn’t get any more work offers after that.

So next time you see a mascot that looks like an escapee from The Island of Doctor Moreau, think of the poor bugger who sold his soul to design him.

Follow David Squires on Twitter

David on –

More of David’s work at

Probably David’s finest work – his entry for Neil Ruddock into our STFC Hall of Shame

Rockin’ Robin images – source /

Mascot images / sketches – courtesy David Squires

Confessions of… A Teenage Fanzine Editor

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In the first of a new short feature ‘Confessions of…’, Matt Arnold writes about being a teenage fanzine editor in the mid-1990s and trying to avoid being sued…

“Oh, the fanzine?”

“YES! I found some copies at home!”


Please, please leave them there”

This is a conversation I have, on average, about four times a season. The last occasion was at half time against Orient last month.

The reason dates back twenty years, to the post-Fever Pitch, pre-forums, pre-social media, pretty much pre-internet mid 1990s. These were the glory days of the Fanzine, or ‘Fans Magazine’ (A note for younger readers; a magazine is sort of like a blog, but trees have to die and everyone loses loads of money).

Back then, across the land, ‘When Saturday Comes’ occupied a special place in all right thinking supporters’ hearts, and, in Swindon, the excellent ‘69er’ had seized with gusto the baton discarded by the deceased, and much lamented, ‘Bring The Noise’.

So, with the misplaced confidence of youth, aged 14 , I concluded I too could offer fellow Town fans informed opinion, entertaining features, and what we were a good fifteen years from dubbing, ‘LOLs’. I was almost certainly wrong.

It started as 16 pages of A5 black and white, retailing for 20p and photocopied on the sly. Definitely not, I should point out as he still gets a pension from them, at my Dad’s place of work. Despite questionable quality, the inaugural issue quickly sold out, due, in no small part, to a tiny first print run. There is, after all, only so much surreptitious photocopying you can do at, what I repeat, definitely wasn’t my Dad’s place of work.

‘The Randy Robin’, as my nascent fanzine was ‘hilariously’ titled, made waves with it’s sophomore edition.  The Adver ran a story, front page no less, about this incendiary tome BEING BANNED from the County Ground. A classic case of ‘The Man’ trying to ‘keep the kids down’ if ever there was one. Thus, I was pictured, pubescent and piqued, outside an empty County Ground, brandishing a copy of my contraband rag.

Except, and here’s a confession, it didn’t really happen like that.

Employing the sort of low cunning that really should have later landed us careers as football agents, my friends and I had decided to whip up some free publicity. So I rang up the club, to innocently enquire whether I could sell the fanzine at the ground. Not unreasonably, the mandarin dispatched to deal with this upstart, informed me what I already knew, that only official publications, ie the programme, were permitted.

Murmurings about this snub to entrepreneurial schoolboys by crusty officialdom soon reached the ear of a friendly journalist, and, lo, tidings of this little local difficulty were duly dropped through the Town’s letterboxes just days later. Profile plumped up by the local paper, the next few issues the Randy Robin followed a familiar course.

While most teens loudly berate what they perceive to be their parents’ failings, it was the dubious paternal influence of the Swindon Town board we regularly raged against on our pages. Alleged mismanagement by these older squares even inspired the fanzine’s finest hour, a special free edition, produced in under 24 hours, as a response to the deadline day (under) sale of Jan Aage Fjortoft.

It would be naïve, and not a little self deluding, to suggest that the swiftly photocopied scribblings of a schoolboy helped fan the flames of protests that erupted post-match behind the Arkells the match after the flying Norwegian departed. But in a time before forums and social media, that issue of the Randy Robin promptly articulated the anger that most of the home crowd felt.

Aside from our often inexplicably irate editorials, and adolescent angst, much of the material was light hearted, even silly, designed, in the days before smart phones, to fill a few minutes pre match. It was always a wonderful feeling to see fellow fans, some of them actual adults, flicking through our work in the stands.

But it couldn’t last.

An end of season issue included a collection of quotes cribbed from various sources, summing up Towns campaign. When produced on my parents’ word processor, this seemed far from our most contentious piece. We had, after all, in the very same issue, filled the center spread with a Wild West-style poster of Town board, who were, apparently, ‘Wanted for the Attempted Murder of Swindon Town Football Club!’

The motive behind this melodrama escapes me now, and indeed, I suspect wouldn’t have stood up to much scrutiny at the time. Never the less, it went unremarked on.

Unlike the aforementioned article, which included a quote, attributed to a local journalist, about how “The words Steve McMahon and ‘man management’ don’t go together in the same sentence”. The remark had been lifted, not from the journalist’s own writings, but a piece in a fairly niche Football League magazine. A magazine it transpired that I’d managed to misplace, as said journo penned an angry polemic in the Adver, strongly denying ever having uttered this sentence. Perhaps, in fear of a Sam Morshead-style banning from the club, the slighted hack showed no remorse, giving the fanzine both barrels in print.

He, rightly, derided our legally dubious disclaimer in the front of each edition ‘We’re all under 16, so please don’t sue us’; before drawing readers attention to our flagrant, shameless and un-credited use of the paper’s copyrighted photos in the fanzine.

‘The Randy Robin’ limped on, but this was the beginning of the end. By the start of the next season some fans were refusing to pay for their copy, as it was “full of lies”. An accusation, incidentally, that you could apply to many teenagers writing about football today; only they do it on their mobile phones and have the ability to convince the world, via their ‘In The Know’ Twitter account, that they are an informed industry insider, rather than a football-obsessed adolescent.

And the less malevolently minded can share with fellow fans anywhere in the world, thoughts, jokes, opinions, even, if they must, ‘banter’, 24 hours a day.

There is have no need for arcane, off-line entities like fanzines.

Today’s youth (and how my 14 year-old self would hate that I grew up to use that phrase) will never know the pleasures of waiting for the local paper to drop on the mat to hear the latest transfer news, of following your side’s midweek away games on Ceefax, or, yes, of writing up and distributing your own ill-advised thoughts on actual printed paper.

Printed paper that definitely wasn’t photocopied at my Dad’s place of work by the way.

Follow Matt Arnold @HaroldFlem

The best I’ve ever seen #3: Dave Mitchell’s header vs Watford 4 January 1992

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When Simon Bayliss saw our ‘Best I’ve Ever Seen’ feature, starting firstly with Rory Fallon’s overhead kick against Bristol City being chosen, and then Will Dixon nominated by Vic Morgan, he contacted us to nominate the best goal he’d ever seen scored by Swindon Town…

This certainly is not an easy choice. I’ve seen some screamers in my 38 years watching the Town; remember Steve Foley away at Blackburn in the Play-off semi in 1990? There have also been some scrappy goals which still meant so much at the time; like Paul Bodin’s 90th minute winner against Portsmouth in February 1993 when we’d played them off the pitch all match and totally deserved the win.

However I’ve picked Dave Mitchell’s header against Watford in the FA Cup at the County Ground in January 1992. This choice is not just for the way he finished it, but also for the fantastic build up to the goal which is probably the best I’ve seen – I say probably as choosing one goal from many hundreds means I’ve no doubt forgotten many good goals.

We’d beaten Millwall 3-1 at home on New Years Day three days previously, our first league win for 10 games. So I turned up on the Saturday reasonably confident that we’d found our scoring boots and could carry this on against Watford. Just over 10,000 turned up for the match, this was when the FA Cup still meant something and you could still get bigger crowds for cup matches than league games.

Town got off to the best possible start after four minutes with Duncan Shearer chesting down a lovely long ball from Ross MacLaren and half volleying it past David James to put us one up. Six minutes later and we were two up, and this goal is my nomination…

Watford’s Jason Drysdale, yes him, unwittingly started the move off by hitting a weak cross which Colin Calderwood had to stoop to head; it was hit that badly. If only Steve McMahon had been there to see that we may not have paid £340,000 for him some three years later!

Colin headed it to Ross MacLaren and Ross hit another lovely long ball to Dave Mitchell just inside the Watford half. Mitchell hit a lovely first time pass on the volley to Martin Ling who surged forward with the ball.

When Ling got to just outside the penalty area he passed it out to the right to Duncan Shearer who placed a precise first time cross which Dave Mitchell threw himself at and sent a bullet header flying over David James.

As the commentator says on the official club video for that season; “What a goal, what a superb goal, you won’t see better than that, and the County Ground erupts, that was absolute perfection.”

After that explosive first ten minutes we had to wait until just before half time for another goal, this time it was Watford who scored when Luther Blissett hit a cracker of a goal over Nicky Hammond.

Luther Blissett then made it 2-2 thirteen minutes into the second half with a header from a corner, he got to the ball well but i think Hammond should have beaten him to it.

However, Micky Hazard created the winner with ten minutes to go, running from inside his own half to just outside the penalty area where he threaded a lovely pass for Duncan Shearer who placed the ball into the corner of the net out of the reach of David James.

The reward for this win was a trip to Cambridge United in round four, where we got revenge for the two league defeats with a comfortable 3-0 win, beauty beat brawn that day.

Back to my nomination, and I really can’t think of a better build up to a goal along with an excellent finish, however if people think there are better ones, then please nominate them, preferably with footage from Youtube to remind me of goals I’ve forgotten.

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