Vic Morgan Blog: The Ides of March…

Danny Williams 1969

It’s Friday, so it must be time for the latest blog by BBC Devon’s Vic Morgan.

“Et Tu Brute ?” Ah nothing like a bit of Shakespeare to start your day. “Beware the Ides of March” see there’s another bit. I’ve no idea why the 15th of this month is called the Ides. Perhaps someone more enlightened can, well, enlighten me. All I do know is on this day in 1969 Arsenal followed in the footsteps of Julius Caeser and got well and truly seen too.

You know the story. Wembley ruined by the Horse of the Year Show. Oh and an England demolition of France about that time too. The poor flu-ridden Gunners taken apart by arguably the best Third Division team ever.

It was two years previous to this that a Rodney Marsh wonder goal helped QPR, also then of Division Three, beat WBA also in the League Cup final. That was the initial, ahem, Wembley shocker but of course ours was much better.

I went to the old Twin Towers on a school trip. We left Malmesbury very early on that Saturday morning. The sky, like the coach, was grey. It was in the early days of the M4 so it took a while for the old rattler to make North London.

Our first real sight of the old Wembley was just as you come to that roundabout in Hanger Lane. You know the one by the tube station and with the shops on it. It gleamed white against a dull March day. It looked like the greatest thing you’d ever seen. Then you actually got to the stadium and realised what a mess it was. Dirty, crumbling and downright uncomfortable. But hey for a ten shilling ticket that wooden bench did the trick.

The game itself was magnificent. Peter Downsborough gave the best goalkeeping display I’ve ever seen and of course our Donald was at his brilliant best. I have a pen somewhere which says on it..Swindon Town 3 (Rogers 2, Smart) Arsenal 1 (Gould) Att; 98,189. What a day!

The chants of SWIN-DON SWIN-DON still echo around my head. Oh yes and it took two hours to get out of the car park even then. After that it was promotion to the Second Division and darn near the First the season after.

European success too, humbling the likes of A.S. Roma, Juventus, Napoli and Sampdoria. Because of their status Swindon weren’t allowed in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup as it was then. So they just went and won the Anglo-Italian cups that were created to allow them to show their talent on a wider stage.

That team was the stuff of legend. It was led by one of Swindon’s, if not the, greatest captains in Stan Harland. A wonderful player who died tragically young. As did midfielder John Smith. They are legends in the true sense of the word. Beware the Ides of March ? No, its my favourite day of the year.

Keep it loud keep it proud keep it SWINDON.

Vic

FYI Paolo: The Ten Greatest Swindon Town Performances

Danny Williams 1969 18

Paolo Di Canio believes the victory over Stoke City was one of the greatest Swindon Town performances, perhaps it is a contender, Ron Smith gives his view on the top ten.

After outclassing Premier League Stoke City in the League Cup 2nd Round tie, Paolo Di Canio said; “Today we have to put this game as one of the best games I think in this club’s history. I don’t know exactly because I don’t know all this club’s history but look at the football. The first half it looked like Stoke City against Barcelona!”

Well Paolo, here’s my look back to provide a view on the ten greatest Swindon Town performances…. discuss…

No.10 – Swindon 3 Leeds United 0 (x2) – League One 2009/2010

Cheating a little bit including two matches, but Town’s double 3-0 victories over Leeds United in January and April 2010 were astonishing for their equal completeness in routing ‘fallen giants’ Leeds United. Billy Paynter scored four and Charlie Austin twice in the demolition jobs without reply, leaving Leeds fans ‘marching on together’ out of the ground well before the final whistles.

No.9 – Swindon 2 Liverpool 0 – League Cup 3rd Round 6th October 1970

quick fire Don Rogers second half double send Bill Shankly’s emerging Liverpool side featuring Clemence, Smith, Hughes and Lloyd out of the League Cup. Our one and only victory over Liverpool.

No.8 – Swindon 2 Tottenham 1 – Premier League 22nd January 1994

The most complete performance of the Premier League season, Town came from behind after a Nicky Barnby goal after half an hour to secure a 2-1 victory. Jan Aage Fjortoft scored his first goal in the Premier League before a late Adrian Whitbread strike following an in-direct free kick in the box. Some fantastic footage here, enjoy the game…

No.7 – Stoke City 3 Swindon 4 AET – League Cup 2nd Round 28th August 2012

Town very nearly surrendered a 2-0 half time lead against Premier League opposition before eventually taking this tie in the depths of extra time. A last minute James Collins goal completed his hat trick in what was an astonishing performance, the finest yet under Di Canio to out gun top flight opponents on their own turf – a feat not done in the cups since a 2-0 victory at Carrow Road in the FA Cup in 1988.

No.6 – Bristol City 0 Swindon 4 – Division One 12th January 1991

Perhaps the most dominant performance in a local derby sees high-flying City overturned 4-0 at Ashton Gate. Goals from Mickey Hazard, Duncan Shearer and a double from Steve White tore City apart.

No.5 – Swindon 3 West Ham Utd 1 – FA Cup 3rd Round Replay 31st January 1967

Against a side featuring World Cup winners Martin Peters, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and former international Johnny Byrne, Third Division Town progressed in this FA Cup replay following a 3-3 draw at Upton Park. Goals from Willie Penman, Ken Skeen and Don Rogers gave Town a 3-1 victory and a cup giant-killing over their illustrious First Division opponents.

No.4 – Swindon 4 Arsenal 3 AET – League Cup Quarter Final Replay 11th December 1979

It’s all 1969 all over again as Third Division Swindon beat First Division – and holders of the FA Cup – Arsenal. After drawing 1-1 at Highbury, Town then thrash hapless Bury 8-0 in the League before the replay at the County Ground. Town were 3-1 up before Arsenal took the tie to extra time. Andy Rowland poked the winner with minutes to go to send 4-3 victors Swindon to a Semi-Final with Wolves.

No.3 – Swindon 4 Leicester City 3 – Division One Play-Off Final 31st May 1993

Nail-biting. 3-0 to the good then all of a sudden Leicester find their scoring boots and level the score. Steve White will forever be the villain in Foxes eyes for ‘winning’ a penalty, but it still took Paul Bodin to hold his nerve to send Swindon back to where we belong…albeit for one season.

No.2 – Birmingham City 4 Swindon 6 – Division One 12th April 1993

The comeback of all comebacks. From 4-1 down, Swindon score 5 in the last 30 minutes to come away from St Andrews with a 2 goal margin of victory. Just watch the video!

No.1 – Swindon 3 Arsenal 1 AET – League Cup Final 15th March 1969

Obvious really. The most complete performance when it mattered the most against quality opposition on an awful pitch. Every player who wore the shirt and Danny Williams are legends because of what they did this day in March 1969.

Notable other contenders just missing out of the top ten include; Swindon 1-0 Sunderland Division One Play Off Final in 1990; Swindon 5-0 Fulham in 1977; Swindon 3-0 Chelsea in 1963; Charlton vs Swindon Play-Off Semi-Final 2nd Leg; Swindon 3-1 Tranmere Division One Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg in 1993; Swindon 8-0 Bury in 1979 and Swindon 2-1 Wigan Athletic in 2012.

Wembley battle flag at the ready…Here we come again

Danny Everard with his eleven year old son, Maxwell. 4

With just three days before we all descend upon Wembley, the anticipation and excitement is now really starting to build, writes Danny Everard. 

Unbelievably just a week ago, 15th March, it was the 43rd anniversary of Swindon’s greatest day and that wonderful victory over the mighty Arsenal in the Wembley mud. That anniversary and our Johnson Paint Trophy final tie this weekend has had my mind racing back over the years, bringing back many happy memories.

Awaiting the arrival of our five Wembley tickets a few weeks ago and watching my eleven year olds face as he examined them, took me back to the day I had to queue in the hope of getting my two golden tickets to watch Stan Harland’s team. Of course it was Don Rogers who was our hero and our great hope, but for me, Harland, our captain, was unquestionably our leader…… I still find myself 43 years on, standing in the shower from time to time, with tears of pride in my eyes, singing out loud “I’d walk a million miles, for one of your smiles, whoa, ohhh, ohh, STAAAA-AAN- LEY.”

Back on a cold morning in 1969 it was all so different to today. No internet booking facilities for tickets then. Having laid awake, I’m sure all night, I was disappointed, having got up early and made my way to the County Ground, to have to join a very, very long shivering queue of supporters. Slowly, very slowly, along with my fellow supporters, I shuffled along in anticipation towards the small ticket office window behind the Town End.

Danny Everard with his eleven year old son, Maxwell - holding the STFC Battle Flag

At eleven years of age I clutched my ticket money tight to my chest. My father, who was at work at Pressed Steel Fisher, had given me STRICT instructions. “Keep your money close and once you get our tickets, keep THEM even closer AND DON’T SHOW THEM TO ANYBODY, there’s not going to be enough for everyone and someone might take them off you.” God, I was not just tired and excited, I WAS SCARED STIFF…

My heart must have been pumping like one of the old steam trains that my old school teacher at Park North, Mr Smith, used to go on about chuffing through Swindon Station seven or eight years earlier. I had never known such fear and excitement combined.

After what seemed like an eternity, it was finally my turn. At the ticket window, on tip toes, I forced my monetary offering through the little window. One pound for two tickets, along I’m pretty sure with my vouchers, to see Swindon Town, MY SWINDON TOWN, MY HEROES, MY EVERY WAKING THOUGHT, play the mighty Arsenal at the Empire Stadium Wembley.

I remember thinking; please don’t be sold out, PLEASE DON’T BE SOLD OUT !!!

As the two pieces of paper allowing me and my dad entry to heaven slipped across the counter in my direction, I politely grasped them and pushed my hand and half my arm, inside my jacket and ran….I vaguely remember daring to stop and peek inside my coat to check them. WEMBLEY, it was really true, I was going to Wembley and I had the tickets to prove it. I cried with excitement and joy, before running all the way home to Park North.

Earlier in the 1968/69 season, around the time of the start of our cup run, I had managed to buy an old battered Union Jack flag, in an old second hand junk shop up in Gorse Hill. Back home in Beaufort Green, I had “SWINDON”, stitched in large white letters, emblazoned across it. Now my very own BATTLE FLAG was going to Wembley…

That flag has seen action and victory at Wembley three times, Arsenal 1968/69; Sunderland 1990 and Leicester City 1993.

In 2009/10 the Battle Flag, now residing in Cornwall, never made the Charlie Austin play off final against Millwall, due to my wife’s birthday that weekend! Try as I might I could not convince her that a weekend in London was a great birthday present !

Town as we know lost for the first time ever at Wembley. My Battle Flag was not there. I felt guilty that somehow I had let the team down by not going into battle with them, never mind the infamous Wembley divot.

This March 25th the Battle Flag will be back and carried once more to help do battle at Wembley – this time by my own eleven year old son!

Together we continue the family tradition of being loyal Town supporters, sharing successes and failures together, as he gathers his own memories to remember and sing about to himself in his own shower, in his own middle age!!!

COME ON YOU REDS!!

43rd Anniversary: 1969 League Cup Final – Arsenal 1 Swindon 3

Danny Williams 1969 4

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the greatest day in our history… the 15th March 1969 saw Swindon Town of Division Three beat the ‘mighty’ Arsenal 3-1 after extra time thanks to a late Don Rogers double.

The Town went one up ten minutes before half time, this was after a shambolic mixup allowed Peter Noble to seize upon the loose ball and pass to Roger Smart to shin the ball into the unguarded net. Swindon held on until four minutes from full time when Bobby Gould latched onto a ball forward to beat the onrushing Peter Downsborough to head the Arsenal equaliser.

As the match went into extra time Don Rogers fired Town back ahead after being quickest to react to a loose ball in the box. With seconds remaining at the end of extra time, Rogers sealed the victory following a swift counter attack, running half the muddy pitch to take control of the ball and dummy the advancing Wilson to sidefoot the third and Swindon the League Cup.

Sit back, relax and enjoy reliving the memories of that famous day…

Team lineups

All the goals and highlights

On the 20th anniversary of the Town’s League Cup win over Arsenal, HTV presenter “Bobbin’” Roger Malone presented a commemorative episode of “Flashback For The Fans”, with the winning team in the studio.

All videos are courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk

An Arsenal view on loan signing Daniel Boateng

This article was originally published on 30th August 2011 when Jeorge Bird from Arsenal Youth provided the lowdown on our then hopeful loan signing Daniel Boateng. Today (20th Jan 2012) Boateng has joined on loan until the end of the season, here is another look at Jeorge’s comments.

When Daniel Boateng was emerging through the ranks at Arsenal’s Hale End Academy, he was always noted as possessing immense physical strength which, particularly at that level, ensured that he was a difficult opponent for many attackers.

Now a fully-fledged member of Neil Banfield’s Reserve side, his development in the ensuing period has been a profound one, with the defender, who will turn 19 early next month, possessing a significantly improved reading of the game in comparison to his schoolboy days.

Boateng’s strength remains his key attribute and, against Manchester United Reserves recently, he used it to excellent effect, dealing well with the considerable threat of United striker Mame Biram Diouf.

Respected amongst his team-mates, Boateng’s leadership qualities are also in abundance, as testified by the fact that he was named Reserve captain on several occasions last season in the absence of regular skipper Ignasi Miquel. The armband has now passed to classy Dutch midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup, but only because of Boateng’s impending loan move to Swindon Town.

What Swindon will get is a defender, nominally a centre-back, but also capable of playing at right-back, who allies his strength with efficient speed, and a player who is capable of bringing the ball out from the back and instigating attacking moves in a manner reminiscent of Kolo Toure in his early days at Highbury.

There is, though, as with all young players, a downside. Boateng is the kind of player who can turn in an excellent performance for the majority of the game, but then commit a fatal mistake or error of judgement that costs his side dear. He has worked hard to rectify this in recent months, but the problem still persists and the Arsenal coaching staff are hopeful that competitive football in League Two will help him to understand that he has to maintain concentration for the entire 90 minutes.

Boateng’s positioning cannot be described as perfect either, but this loan spell, if successful, could see him progress from a raw talent into a more rounded individual. It is currently unclear exactly how he will be deployed under Paolo Di Canio, but should he feature regularly, it would be of immense benefit to Arsenal, Swindon and, of course, Boateng himself.

Boateng became a consistent presence in the Arsenal Reserve side last campaign, starting each of the last 12 games of the season, and both so far thus. He was also a key part of the side which retained the Premier Academy League title in 2010, forming a largely formidable presence alongside recent first-team graduate Miquel.

A keen learner, Boateng is ready for the next stage of his development and Swindon is an excellent place for him to learn and develop. Fans would be advised to be patient initially, and accept that all young players make mistakes, but once he grows in confidence and consistency, he could prove to be something of a useful asset for the League Two outfit.

Follow @jeorgebird on Twitter

Managers Month No.1 – Danny Williams (1965-69)

No.1 | Danny Williams | Manager August 1965 to July 1969 | Score 423.2

Danny Williams’ first spell in charge at Swindon from 1965 to 1969 is, by my definition, the most successful spell by any Town manager in the Football League, FA Cup and League Cup.

His overall record is second to none and provided an entire generation with lasting memories of the 1969 League Cup win, an achievement sadly that is extremely unlikely to ever be equalled.

So how did the one club man from Rotherham propel Swindon Town into the national limelight with one of the most famous Wembley upsets of all time?Continue Reading

Managers Month: No.4 – Bobby Smith

No.4 | Bobby Smith | Manager May 1978 to September 1980 | Score 388.9

A manager frequently overlooked and perhaps forgotten, Bobby Smith took over from the retiring Danny Williams for the start of the 1978/79 Division Three season.

Smith started off in management young. He was only 29 when he took over at Bury in November 1973, making an instant impact with promotion from Division Four at the first attempt, although mediocre seasons eventually led to Bobby being sacked in October 1977 after making a poor start to the season. Within days Port Vale came calling, however 34 league games, 6 wins, 15 draws and 13 defeats later, he took the Valiants to relegation into Division Four. Continue Reading