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…

50 Years On: 1963/64 April – Swindon in the big time for the first time

1963-1964 Squad Crop

Throughout this season Mike Minihane has been taking a look back at Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’, following the promotion to Division Two for the 1963/64 season. Mike completes his review with  April 1964…

Top of the Charts – Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles

As the season petered out our relegation form continued. Gone were the heady days of September when we’d taken all before us, now we were struggling for points. From August until the end of October we’d played fifteen league games, winning ten, drawing three and losing just two, accumulating 23 points. Between November and the end of the season we played twenty seven games, winning only four, drawing seven and losing sixteen, gaining a paltry 15 points. But for our whirlwind start to the season we’d have been nailed-on relegation certainties. Thanks to our early season successes however we were assured of mid-table safety.

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd. Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee. Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell. Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James. Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head
Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd.
Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee.
Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell.
Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James.
Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

April’s fixtures brought home games against Huddersfield Town and Swansea Town (still a lowly Town and not a City in those days) and visits to Derby County and Southampton. It started badly with a 1-2 home defeat to Huddersfield, despite taking an early lead through Bill Atkins. The trip to Derby was worse with us on the wrong end of a 0-3 score line. The gloom was lifted somewhat with a narrow 2-1 win over Swansea Town thanks to goals from Bill Atkins and Don Rogers.

For the last game of the season we were at Southampton. The emerging talent of Martin Chivers was again evident, as it had been in the home fixture when he’d scored the winner. This time he went two better with a hat trick. Needless to say Terry Paine also got one in a 5-1 demolition of the Town, with Ernie Hunt getting our consolation goal and ending up as our top scorer in the League with 12 goals.

The season ended with Leeds United and Sunderland gaining promotion to the First Division; we finished 14th. Looking back it’s clear that the writing was on the wall for the following season when we were relegated. In the second two thirds of the season our record had been indisputably poor and we were never able to recapture any semblance of our early season form. For those of us fortunate enough to witness the early part of the season it still stands out as a totally exhilarating time which brought a new level of experience to Town fans. We watched our team with something amounting to a combination of glee and disbelief.

There have been many stand-out periods in Town’s history over the last 50 years and the early part of the 1963/64 season will always live in the memory of those who were there and saw a team of young, talented players put the Town well and truly on the footballing map.

1963-64 April Table1963-64 Progress

Images courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Table from statto.com

Hall of Shame #29: David Peach

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Should David Peach enter the Hall of Shame? You can decide. But this isn’t just a yes or no decision on whether yet another of Town’s duffers enters this famed collection of crap, your vote will decide how deep the diarrhea actually is. Alex Cooke provides the options.

I never saw David Peach play and those who did are still divided about him. Some saw a good player whose best days had long passed, others spoke of a football so far below what was expected, you’d think he used his sweet left foot to half-volley newborn kittens into threshing machines. So let’s get started.

David Peach was a left-back, part of the same lame legion of duff defenders, which for Swindon already includes the likes of Jason Drysdale, Yinka Casal and Gary Elkins. Except Peach had form. He was an England u21 and B international, he’d played more than 400 times for Gillingham and Southampton, winning an FA Cup along the way. He joined Swindon in 1980 at the age of 30.

Peach was signed from Saints as a replacement for Town’s local, legendary, record-appearance-maker and retiree John Trollope. It was a move that could be described as:

A. Tricky for who ever had fill those famous boots.
B. Impossible. Trollope was, and remains, an icon.
C. As bigger a disappointment as find that on meeting 69hotblonde from Match.com the name comes from his age, weight in stone and perspiration problem.

Peach cost manager Bobby Smith a then club-record sum of £150,000 (which using the Bank of England’s inflation calculator is about £544,000 now). This fee was:

A. A weighty price tag, which made Town fans judge him even more harshly.
B. Pretty good value, as judging by his waistline. He must have been about £10 per pound of meat.
C. The most over-priced thing to come out of Southampton since a peak-time train ticket to London.

Peach scored 64 goals in his career, a good number of which had been from the penalty spot, and so his left foot could be described as:

A. Cultured.
B. A powerful left peg, which while once deadly was getting weak.
C. Like a magic wand – in that some people pretend can do wonderful things with it but in reality is actually completely useless stick.

David Peach made his Town debut in a 6-2 thrashing at Millwall, his debut proved that:

A. He would take some time to adjust to Town’s style and standard of play.
B. He just wasn’t very good.
C. He was as much use as a footballer as Nigel Farage would be as a bath tub, even if you hollowed him out and rammed taps into each eye.

At Gillingham and Saints, Peach had been known for his passing and powerful shooting, as a defender he was:

A. Struggling with the drop from Division One to Division Three.
B. He always got close to his man, largely because he had enough mass to create his own gravity and suck them towards him.
C. He tackled like a man trying to eat jelly with a spade – ineptly, clumsily and with the air of someone who is sure that what he is doing just isn’t good manners.

Peach’s Swindon career finally ended when he was given a free transfer to Leyton Orient.

A. As has happened throughout our history, the club had over-spent and was now cutting back:
B. We tried to sell him for a small fee to Orient in the summer of 1981 but once their chairman stopped laughing he said no. He stopped laughing on 14 December 2004.
C. It was in East London that someone on the mail train finally heard the muffled cries from wriggling bag at the back of the mail train, marked ‘To Timbuktu’.

On the scale of dreadful Swindon left-backs, David Peach is as bad as:

A. Gareth Hall – hefty slow and long, long past it.
B. Jason Drysdale – horribly expensive, but hamstrung by who he had to replace.
C. Yinka Casal – a cruel experiment in managerial desperation.

Read more tales from the Swindon Town Hall of Shame…

50 Years On: 1963/64 March – Swindon in the big time for the first time

1963-1964 Squad Crop 1

Throughout this season Mike Minihane has been taking a look back at Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’, following the promotion to Division Two for the 1963/64 season. Mike continues with a review of March 1964…

Top of the Charts – Little Children – Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas

At the beginning of March 1964 in an attempt to arrest our decline Swindon Town had signed two new players. Norman Oakley, a goalkeeper, had come from Hartlepools United. Hartlepool were rubbish and constantly had to apply for re-election  to the Football League, so we were less than impressed with this, despite being assured that he was their best player and but for him they would have been in an even more dire position, if that were possible. The other was Frank Large, a ‘robust’ centre forward had come from Northampton Town. Frank had always given us a hard time and had scored three against us that season, so his arrival was viewed with more optimism…

And so it proved when both made their debuts at home to Plymouth Argyle, Oakley misjudged a cross to allow Plymouth’s Dave Corbett an easy goal to give the visitors a one goal lead. Corbett was an ex Town player so that was totally to be expected. Then Frank Large became an instant hero, quickly equalising and then scoring the winner five minutes from time. Two signings; one dud and one hero, it could’ve been worse. This was our first home win since mid-December, perhaps things were looking up!

Our next game took us to Charlton Athletic and Frank Large continued his heroics by scoring our first goal in a 2-2 draw, with ‘Big’ Bill Atkins getting the other. This was a very decent point against a team who were going well and in fourth place, our confidence was growing. The following Saturday we were home to Middlesbrough, a mid-table side with a young, highly-rated player called Arthur Horsfield leading their attack. ‘King Arthur’ would later become our then record signing when signed by Danny Williams in 1969 and endear himself to Town fans by scoring 41 goals in just over 100 appearances, a very impressive strike rate.  He didn’t score on that occasion however as goals from Bill Atkins and Don Rogers gave us a 2-0 victory and a second consecutive home win.

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd. Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee. Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell. Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James. Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head
Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd.
Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee.
Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell.
Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James.
Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

Our Easter opponents were to be Cardiff City, a team we never did well against and who included half the Wales international team, including the legendary Ivor Allchuch, and the Charles brothers, John and Mel. Frank Large continued his fine form, giving us a first half lead, but it wasn’t to be enough and as we went down to a 1-2 home defeat. Three days later on Easter Monday Cardiff completed the double with a 1-0 win at Ninian Park, courtesy of a goal from Mel Charles.

This was the era of three games in four days over Easter and sandwiched between the Cardiff games was a 1-2 home defeat to Leyton Orient which made it a pointless, and miserable ‘holiday’ period for us. We had however won two home games during the month and stopped the rot. Additionally we’d gained a new striker who could put himself about and score goals. It certainly was an improvement on the dire February that had gone before. We were down to 11th place in the League but we already had enough points not to have to worry about relegation. With four games of the season remaining we could relax, secure in the knowledge that another season in the ‘big time’ was guaranteed.

1963-64 March Table

Images courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Table from statto.com

50 Years On: 1963/64 February – Swindon in the big time for the first time

1963-1964 Squad Crop 1

Throughout this season Mike Minihane will be taking a look back at Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’, following the promotion to Division Two for the 1963/64 season. Mike continues with a review of February 1964…

Top of the Charts – Needles and Pins – The Searchers

January had been a good month with victories over Manchester City and Aldershot giving us a fifth round FA Cup tie at home to West Ham United. In the League that month Town had a thrilling league game with promotion candidates Leeds United ending in a very creditable draw; finally our pride had been restored. February looked quite daunting however with games against Sunderland, Preston North End and Newcastle United lined up, all of whom were in the top six and serious promotion contenders.

First up was Sunderland away. We’d beaten them at home in December in a truly memorable game. This time it would be different. In front of over 41,000 fans we were taken apart 0-6, with home striker Nick Sharkey celebrating his call-up to the Scotland squad with a hat-trick. The win took Sunderland to top place in the League table, leapfrogging Leeds.

The following Saturday offered us an opportunity for revenge for our 0-4 humiliation at Northampton Town back in September. More disappointment as they ran out worthy 3-2 winners at the County Ground, with one of their goals coming from Frank Large who would be playing for us in a month’s time. We were never in it and many fans had already left the round before Don Rogers’ 89th minute penalty gave us some undeserved respectability in the score line.

The following Saturday the glory of the FA Cup lifted things for us with our third encounter of the season with First Division West Ham United. Two goals for Geoff Hurst and one for Johnny Byrne against a header from a corner from Ken Macpherson gave the Hammers a comfortable 3-1 win. West Ham would go on to win the trophy with a 3-2 victory in a thrilling final against Second Division Preston North End, for whom Howard Kendall would become the youngest ever player ever to play in an FA Cup Final. Losing to the ultimate competition winners was certainly no disgrace.

It was back to reality the following Tuesday however with a league game at Gigg Lane against relegation candidates Bury who were second from bottom. Amongst the Bury line up was Gordon Atherton who would join Town the following season. A goal from George Jones was enough to decide the game in Bury’s favour, giving them precious points in their ultimately successful relegation fight.

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd. Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee. Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell. Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James. Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head
Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd.
Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee.
Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell.
Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James.
Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

So, four games down, four defeats, three goals scored – two by the centre half and the other a penalty – and thirteen goals conceded. Things were going badly. A home game against third placed Preston North End was probably the last thing we needed, and so it turned out, with Preston running out 4-1 winners with two goals from Alex Dawson, who was to score in the FA Cup Final later that year, one from Dave Wilson and one from Bryan Godfrey. A Mike Summerbee goal was Town’s only reply.

The last game of the month took us to St James Park, the home of the mighty Newcastle United, who were sixth in the league and looking to regain the First Division status they had lost in 1961. Once again we were on the end of a 1-4 defeat, with Bobby Woodruff scoring a late consolation goal after Newcastle goals from Burton, Hilley, Cummings and Suddick. Willie Penman was playing for Newcastle that day; he would join Town in 1966 and become a firm favourite with fans.

It had been a truly awful month, playing teams that were clearly superior and at times looking well out of our depth. Our record for the month was played six, lost six, five goals scored, twenty-one conceded. We’d slipped from 5th position to 11th. With six games to come in March it was going to be a critical month. It looked a little easier, but only just.

1963-64 February Table

Images courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Table from statto.com