2Unlimited, Sex Toys and Jay McEveley: The best Swindon Town chants

Jay McEveley - Mad Mac Poster Cropped

As we continue our look at the atmosphere at the County Ground, Will Wardrop assess Swindon Town’s recent history in song, featuring the Thomsons, Pericard and Amankwaah…

Following England’s 3-1 victory at Celtic Park in November, The Guardian’s Barney Ronay suggested that the reason England fans resorted to singing ‘Fuck the I.R.A.’ was due to a lack of imagination when it comes those who follow the three lions away. To his credit, I try my best not to cringe seeing the hundreds of videos showing sunburnt tourists drunkenly slurring their way through renditions of Ten German Bombers or the funeral march that is God Save the Queen on YouTube. There just seems to be very few alternatives to choose from. Ronay seems to think we are “a nation in the slow lane her” and “the best football songs have a little wit, or express a certain superiority: Anderlecht fans singing Your Support is Fucking Shit’ in perfect English at the Emirates earlier this season, or German football’s effortless annexing of Football’s Coming Home.”

However, I disagree with this assertion. While Anderlecht and the German national side have received well-deserved praise, so too should English club sides. There was much to enjoy in Manchester United’s tongue-in-cheek rendition of ‘We are staying up’ last season under the ever-sweaty David Moyes, Everton’s slightly risqué ‘Let’s go fucking mental, Li Tie’s oriental’ or the simplicity of Birmingham’s ‘Fahey’s a jolly good fellow’.

But where do Swindon’s recent songs rank against the wit and panache of the very best? Borrowing songs from other teams and putting our own spin on things seems to be the order of the day, done beautifully in some cases by the Red and White Army.

One chant that has hit the big time in recent years is the Yaya/Kolo Toure song, sung to the tune of 2Unlimited’s No Limit. The original is a vomit-inducing ‘club banger’ and one that should have had no place at a football match, even a 90’s one. However, the cheesy/catchiness of the source material heightens the chant’s appeal, making it what it is – wonderful. Newcastle University students even managed to stop traffic in the city centre with it, parading across several roads after a club night, fuelling a number of outraged Daily Mail articles and hilarious videos on social media.

It seems just a matter of time before someone records a charity Christmas number one with the former Man City team-mates appearing in a video featuring various points of interest around the North West in an homage to Jon Barnes in ‘World in Motion’. The height every footballer wishes to reach! It is little wonder then that when both Thomson brothers broke into Swindon’s first team over the past two seasons, that this chant was adapted to them.

While it’s catchy and gets most of the crowd going, it also shows ingenuity and even highlights the players themselves and what they mean to the club. Where Kolo and Yaya played a key role in City’s title-winning season so can the Thomson brothers, Nathan and Louis, in Swindon’s surge for League One supremacy.

Links between the Toure and Thomson brothers are undeniable (albeit not for looks and Yaya’s unnatural obsession with birthday cake); both consist of a no-nonsense centre-half and a marauding centre-mid, and both are thoroughly likeable characters to their own fans, yet not so much to oppositions’. But what sets the Thomson’s apart is their connection to their club, both coming through the youth system, Nathan becoming captain at a tender age and is well on his way to become somewhat of an icon, not least after his joyful celebrations in front of the Bristol City fans earlier this season. It makes me sad for the end of the season when we see Louis off to Norwich. Not least due to the gaping hole he will leave in our midfield, but also the death of this celebratory chant. RIP. Does Anton Rodgers have a younger brother?

When Chelsea bought the Champions League in 2012, a segment of Russell Howard’s Good News reported on their victory parade. The segment focused on the club’s bizarre chant about their love of celery. Not interested in the fact that you burn more calories chewing celery than ingesting it, much like every person seems to tell me when I begrudgingly chew my way through a stalk, the chant seems more to focus on it’s proficiency as a sex toy. So it is little wonder that when Town met Chelsea in the League Cup last season an ingenious chant was born. Did we sing about a bland vegetable like the bland, glory-hunting fans of a bland club? We certainly did not!

Instead the focus of our affections were aimed at a certain journeyman left back and ‘if she don’t come I’ll tickle her bum with Jay McEveley’ became a fans’ favourite, as did the song (pause for laughter). The image of the bulky Scouser being wheeled out into the bedroom in order to boost the arousal of an annoyed girlfriend is both humorous and somewhat shocking. With McEveley playing in the number 3 role during his time with Town, this chant holds greater weight in light of this bizarre threesome.

The third and final song I’m going to look at is one from a number of years back. Kevin Amankwaah was a player who occasionally lit up/let down Swindon’s defence throughout his three seasons at the club with his somewhat inconsistent performances and controversial comments. That aside, he also set alight the stands after fans came up with a chant based on The Automatic’s ‘Monster’. “What’s that coming over the hill? Kevin Amankwaah, Kevin Amankwaah’ was a true homage to player the opposition saw as monstrous, if not slightly clumsy. It also brought about laughs from my school peers back in 2010 when, on a high that can only come from reaching a playoff final, the song made an appearance in the playground.

Almost five years later my friends still bring the song up with me. It is true that without them reminding me, I most likely would have forgotten both the song and the glorious player for which it celebrates. Yet it is testament to the song’s catchiness and hilarity that my friends remember it. Much like the McEveley song, it’s the image that it conjures that makes it so memorable, an image of horror as both Town and opposition fans alike spy a frightening sight upon the horizon, in some cases highlighting Amankwaah’s hopeless defending.

When assessing Swindon’s recent chants it’s worth a special mention to “Pardew’s a Swindon fan”, a song aimed at a greying, middle-aged fan who shares a passing resemblance to the Palace manager, “You’re going down with the Woolies”, about the then-imminent closure of Woolworths and who could forget “When you’re sat in row Z and the ball hits your head, it’s Pericard”. It’s important to say therefore that, unlike Ronay has suggested, the art of the witty British chant is still alive, at all levels of the football pyramid. Humour is at the heart of every football supporter, even those that follow England on their biennial stumbling past the group stages of a competition, simply to be sent home by the Germans.

“5-1, even Heskey scored” is a chant that holds particular weight, reminding our European neighbours of that night in 2001 and “England’s going home” following our shambolic early exit at the 2014 World Cup. Both show that at international level, the Great British sense of humour is not lost and that like a Jay McEveley massage, this story does have a happy ending.

Want to write for us? Then please get in touch…

Swindon Town 5-2 Sheffield Utd: Rampant Robins punish Blunt Blades

2014.09.20 Louis Thompson vs Sheffield Utd

Matthew Peach reports on a storming and stylish victory for Swindon Town over promotion favourites Sheffield United.

Swindon went into their clash with Sheffield United unbeaten in their last five and finally starting to look like they can be a real force this year in Sky Bet League One. This is because of an impressive win away at Bradford City and two hard-fought draws at home to Coventry City and Oldham Athletic which demonstrated despite not playing to their full potential, Town were able to pick up points – something that was lacking last season. The game against the hard working Blades would prove a real a test and start to finally give an indication to the Town faithful what their team are capable of achieving this season.

Manager Mark Cooper named an unchanged line up from the draw against Oldham. This meant no place for Jack Stephens, who was still unavailable due to illness, as well Andy Williams who impressed last game with his wonder strike. One thing Town had to make sure was that their midfield trio of Louis Thompson, Yaser Kasim and Massimo Luongo were firing out of all cylinders, this because as seen on Tuesday, when they aren’t playing to their best abilities we seem to struggle to get going. As for Sheffield United they fielded former Town villain-cum-hero Jay McEveley. He was sure to get a mixed reaction from the crowd during the game.

Town kicked-off kicking towards the Stratton Bank looking to replace their opponents in the top six. It only took four minutes before Town had a chance on goal. They won a free-kick about five-yards outside the area and dead ball expert Kasim stood up and whipped the ball over the wall and crashing onto the bar; a sign of things to come perhaps for Swindon? Yes. Shortly after Town created a chance through open play when Brad Smith was put through and he cut back for Jon Obika to narrowly fire wide. A promising start from Swindon.

Within minutes of that chance Town made the breakthrough. A storming run from the half way line to The Blades box from Louis Thompson allowed him to lay the ball on to Michael Smith, who calmly stroked home for his first goal since his brace away at Luton in the Capital One Cup.  A much deserved goal for Swindon who continued to dominate the first half. Luongo had the next chance, he found himself one-on-one with Blades keeper Mark Howard before shanking his shot onto the pole holding the net up. During the first half Kasim picked up a yellow card, his fifth this season meaning he will miss a game. The game would be the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Newport, so depending on how you view it getting the ban out of the way in the JPT is a shrewd move by the Iraqi international.

Town controlled the first half with Sheffield United looking off the pace, their only chance being a Marc McNulty shot that was saved point blank by Wes Foderingham. Their lack of pressing allowed Swindon to make countless runs through the heart of the Yorkshire side’s team. Despite being one goal up you did have to wonder if not taking their chances would come back to haunt the Robins, as the Blades surely couldn’t play this bad after half time?

After a slow start to the second half, another powerful run from a Swindon central midfielder, this time Luongo, won Town a penalty due to United centre-half Neil Collins catching the Aussie as he was scything through the Blades. Initially there was worry when Luongo went down, but fortunately the physio, Paul Godfrey, fixed him up to play on. Michael Smith stepped up and drilled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner. Despite going the right way Howard couldn’t stop the Geordie getting his third brace of the season. At last a bit of a cushion for Swindon who thoroughly deserved to be ahead with United offering next to nothing.

Within three minutes of scoring their second, Swindon were at again. The lively Brad Smith, who has had a mixed start to his Town career, produced a fine cross to Obika – who slotted home to make it four in three for the former Spurs striker.

Swindon at this point were running riot. But things were about to take a turn for the worse. Cooper replaced Obika with Andy Williams, and within minutes of his introduction McNulty this time managed to beat Foderingham and give the travelling fans, all 873 of them, a glimmer of hope. It was Williams with the next chance for Swindon. Shortly after the Blades pulled one back he curled a sensational strike towards the top corner, but Howard was equal to the striker’s shot. The Blades though rallied after their goal and pushed forward again. A Ryan Flynn cross found its way to Ben Davies at the back stick and he tapped home to really give the travelling fans something to shout about. Things were getting worrying for the Town fans, with just five minutes between the strikes, was a collapse on the cards from Swindon with 20 minutes to play?

No. Not with this team. After Luongo and Raphael Rossi Branco went off injured and were replaced by Jake Reeves and Josh Lelan respectively Swindon broke forward and Brad Smith played in Williams to divert home to add breathing space once again for Swindon. A great relief for all in the Swindon camp. You sensed this broke Sheffield United’s spirit.

Swindon went on to score a fifth, and what goal it was. While trying to waste time in the corner Kasim managed to play the ball through the legs of one United player before beating another. He continued his run before rolling the ball back to the edge of the area for local boy Louis Thompson to thump home in off the bar. A truly majestic goal that summed up what Town are capable of going forward. The whistle went shortly after and that performance sent out a message to the rest of the league that Swindon can compete with the big guns in the league and are a force to be reckoned with.

So what’s next for Swindon? On Tuesday they are off to face Newport in the JPT before two tough away games at recently relegated Barnsley and play-off final losers Leyton Orient. There is still a long way to go yet and no doubt tougher tests. However, if Swindon can keep up similar performances to the one shown against Sheffield United who knows where they will end up? maybe we will even be mentioning the ‘P’ word come April/May time.

COYR

Matthew Peach – @MattJPeach

Jay McEveley: Only missing a goal…

Jay McEveley - Mad Mac Poster Cropped 4

When Paolo Di Canio finally left the County Ground Brendan Hobbs penned a personal eulogy to the departing managerial enigma, and he to be fair was bit of a berk. So we think it’s only fair that Brendan should do one about another passionate individual, one who like Di Canio was equally driven to win at all costs, but this one seemed a real decent guy.

I received confirmation about James McEveley’s departure during the post-match radio ramble as I drove away from the County Ground on Saturday – I guessed something might have been up when he appeared shirtless and waving on the pitch moments before. But like a spurned lover still awaiting a return text from a cheating partner, I chose to totally ignore the reality. As I moseyed down the DRS steps at full time I overhead someone say, “Look, Jay’s obviously off”,  I turned and laughed manically, trying to force my hope that this was in fact a cruel joke. Alas, no-one joined in, so I shoved my fingers in my ears and tra-la-laared my way down the steps thinking why would people joke about such things?

When I got home I had to accept the reality, I sat in my car on the drive listening to Jay’s post-match interview. I couldn’t finish it; it was like hearing a break up speech from a special girlfriend, so mid scouse sentence I turned off the ignition and walked away, personal effects and slushy mix-tape in hand. My mind was a maelstrom of confused thoughts, of wasted opportunities – I hadn’t got around to producing a Washbag shop Tee for the guy, I hadn’t even used him as a subject of one of my puerile photoshopped posters.

Jay McEveley was one of Di Canio’s shrewdest signings; he arrived late in the 11/12 season, initially on loan from Barnsley. His Town career didn’t have the greatest of starts even though it did happen in the grandest of settings – Wembley Stadium. Yes, Jay was catapulted straight into the starting eleven for house paint’s showpiece occasion, the Johnstone Paint Trophy final. Understandably Jay didn’t deliver his most convincing performance in a red shirt.

McEveley had pedigree though, with over 50 Premier League games behind him and goals against Arsenal and Liverpool under his belt, I knew he would shine.  He was also one of a select group of international players who have turned out on both sides of the border (three full caps for Scotland, one cap for England U-21’s.)

If Jay was an accomplished left-back in real life, he was also an absolute legend in early versions of Championship Manager, one that you always tried to sign as soon as the game started. Dozens of forum threads and articles dedicated to his computer simulated brilliance can still be found littering the interweb to this day, here are just two examples:

Jay McEveley - Spanish

Jay McEveley - Forum

In his debut season with Swindon he managed nine appearances and quite rightly joined in with the championship celebrations, a bit too early though for PDC as Jay was one of famous five disciplined and dropped for premature partying.  At the end of the season Barnsley decided not to renew his contract, so Town quickly snaffled him up on a free.

Despite suffering numerous knee injuries Jay went on to make 79 appearances in total for Swindon, mostly at left back but he sometimes dabbled (successfully) as a central defender. He also recently shone whilst playing in the middle of the park, showing his adaptation and commitment.

Jay always played at full tilt and was a born winner. His command of the left-back craft was always a joy to behold, he was rarely skinned by an attacking winger, often using his good positional sense to nullify raids rather than resorting to last ditch tackles. But when he was called upon to make a tackle he was always committed and full-blooded – he simply had to win the ball – and was visibly angry if he failed to do so or gave away a free kick.

He was equally as dedicated when rampaging forward, or bollocking Raphael Rossi Branco for being out of position, or bollocking himself for a shanked cross – his will to win was constantly apparent. If we conceded, he’d react like he’d been knifed in the heart, if it had come from the left side of the pitch (it rarely did) he’d be apoplectic with rage.

The one thing his Swindon career was missing was a goal, and it so nearly came in his last appearance. A crashing drive from a well-worked corner routine nearly smashed the cross bar into County Road, the reverb noise caused ears to bleed in Blunsdon, fans had heads in hands and I let a bit of wee escape. Mark Cooper admitted in the post-match conference that Jay had instigated the routine, so close yet so far.

When I had finally composed myself at home, like most men I decided to mask my feelings behind a façade of humour, so I tweeted:

 “Thought @jaymcev03 was awesome today, he’ll be even better next…sorry, what’s that you’re saying?… he’s what?…Boo hoo hoo hoo…#eveningruined

I felt much better, but unfortunately Jay then ‘favourited’ the tweet so my wife was left with the unenviable task of explaining to our two boys why Daddy was crying….

So Jay, you finally get a mocked up poster, I used George Millers apocalyptic masterpiece Mad Max 2 as the template purely because the final line of the film is “He lives now… only in our memories” and this sadly is now is true.

Jay McEveley - Mad Mac Poster

Washbag Podcast: Episode 28 – Season in Review

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Episode #28 of TheWashbag.com Swindon Town FC Podcast is now available to download…

Host Ron Smith is joined by Swindon Advertiser’s Chief Sports Reporter Sam Morshead, FLICWiltshire Sports Editor Andrew Steele-Davis and Town fan Brendan Hobbs.

It’s the end of the season so there’s no better time to record a new podcast to review events at the County Ground.

As usual there’s plenty to cram into our podcast, including a brief look back at the 2-1 home defeat by Rotherham United; the implications of the ongoing ownership saga; Nile Ranger’s recent off-the-pitch antics; who deserves to be the player of the season; your moments of 2013/14; the retained list; and Mark Cooper’s first season in-charge.

Hopefully the podcast will return over the summer to discuss events at the County Ground and England’s progress, or otherwise, in the World Cup…

Get involved with the podcast, please submit your comments and questions by emailing thewashbag[at]gmail[dot]com or tweet @thewashbag

Subscribe to TheWashbag Podcast on iTunes

Add this Podcast to your RSS feed

Click here to download the Podcast MP3

Listen now…

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Swindon Town 1-2 Rotherham United: See you in August

2014.05.03 Rotherham

With the farcical end to Notts County bringing the unlikely play-off hopes to a formal end, the visit of Rotherham United to the County Ground was a chance (within reason) to relax and enjoy the final Swindon Town game of the campaign without too much tension. Writes Scott Keith.

There were several changes to the side – three were enforced thanks to the red cards for Nathan Thompson and Troy Archibald-Henville, plus Alex Pritchard’s return to Spurs. Jack Barthram replaced Thompson (N) at right back, with Jay McEveley slotting in the defensive three and Nathan Byrne put on to the left in a 3-5-2. Louis Thompson and Ben Gladwin joined Massimo Luongo in midfield, and Connor Waldon was handed his first start alongside Michael Smith. The bench was heaving with youth, including new pros Matt Jones and Curtis Da Costa and teenage striker Will Randall.

With the roll of honour taking place before kick-off, the applause had barely died down before Rotherham took the lead, breaking the play up in midfield and slipping in Wes Thomas inside the penalty area. The one time Town transfer target slid the ball past Wes Foderingham with less than 60 seconds on the clock.

That would set the pattern for most of the first half. While some teams decided the best way to deal with Town at home was to cede possession up to the halfway line, they had a different plan, which was to swarm around live a hive of hyperactive slate grey bees. No-one was able to bring the ball out, and chaos was often the result. Jack Stephens had his least impressive game to end his loan spell, and we saw the more chaotic side of Raphael Rossi-Branco. Only Jay McEveley, in what proved to be his final game, looked with it.

Stephens was caught in possession in the move that lead to the second – the ball was sent quickly out to blonde haired left winger Ben Pringle, and a deep cross was watched by Branco as it reached the head of Thomas, who stuck it in via the crossbar. At this point it felt as if a reversal of the 4-0 at the New York Stadium was more than possible. Rotherham don’t really do art or sophistication (see their manager) but they did do ferocious hard work and then sling it in the box.

Stephens headed one cute free-kick from McEveley straight at the ‘keeper, but if this had been half-time in October a volley of boos would have greeted the performance. It was a tough half for Waldon against two physical centre halves and he was feeling the weight of their aggression.

Most of the talk at half-time centred on the possibility of Bristol Rovers exiting the Football League.

The second half though, was infinitely more acceptable fare. Michael Smith could have had a hat-trick, heading wide two chances and then having his shot tipped away after the hulking Claude Davis lost his footing. But Smith would get partial redemption after Luongo was tripped by Icelandic defender Kari Arnason inside the box. He took the penalty despite missing his last one at home to Brentford, and tucked it in to the keeper’s right.

George Barker had replaced Ben Gladwin by this time, but his career so far remains mostly ineffectual. Teenage forward Will Randall was also brought on for his senior debut with Waldon, as it turned out, doing enough to be offered terms for next season.

It might have all ended with the ideal finish for McEveley, who smacked the cross bar with a ferocious striker from a pre-planned corner routine when he received the ball at the edge of the box, but the final minutes all felt slightly chaotic.

The absurdities of the Steve Evans touch line routine came to the fore, and Matt Jones was added to the “two generations played for Swindon” list when the son of Tom was thrown on late to allow McEveley an ovation all of his own.

But no equaliser was forthcoming. The energy of the second half and the lack of relevance of the final result made defeat a fairly tolerable experience, and the moving on was brutal, with the retained list hitting the doormat barely an hour after the final whistle.

Alex Smith was perhaps the most surprising name to be ushered out, after some good wing-back performances in between injuries. The others, for a mix of finance, ability and/or enthusiasm, were largely anticipated.

It may take more shrewd work in the loan market to produce an equally competitive team in August but at least it’s not Goodnight Irene. Now she’s got a summer and a half to contend with.

2013/14 STFC Player of the Season – Wes Foderingham

Wes Foderingham

Your votes have been counted and we can announce that Wes Foderingham has won TheWashbag.com Swindon Town Player of the Season Award.

Foderingham wins the ‘Fraser Digby Tortoiseshell Comb Award’ for the second successive year.

Wes secured 33% of the vote, comfortably beating Louis Thompson into second with 16% and Jay McEveley in third with 11%. Popular favourite Alex Pritchard only secured 4% of the vote.

  1. Wes Foderingham 33%
  2. Louis Thompson 16%
  3. Jay McEveley 11%

Foderingham is a deserved winner of the award. His influence to the side has remained consistent throughout his two and a half year association with Swindon Town. We can typically depend on the ‘keeper to pull-off an outstanding save, such as was recently the case in the home game against Brentford. Wes has been out of the side through injury this season and his return coincided with Town’s return to form, surprising us all with a late charge for the play-offs.

He remains our most valuable asset after building his reputation as one of the finest goalkeepers outside of the Premier League. Here’s hoping a likely summer of discontent in the boardroom doesn’t equate to a dash to sell Foderingham…

Previous Winners:

2010 – JP McGovern

2011 – Nobody deserved to win…

2012 – Alan McCormack

2013 – Wes Foderingham

2014 – Wes Foderingham

 

Notts County 2-0 Swindon Town: Seeing Red…

Troy Archibald-Henville Sending Off vs Notts County 2

Adam Tanner went to Meadow Lane hoping for some joy against the Magpies…

Swindon Town went into the game looking for their seventh win in eight games; and aiming to keep faint hopes of a playoff place alive into the final day. Mark Cooper made only one change to the side that beat Bradford on Monday, with Nathan Byrne replacing Miles Storey as one of the forwards in what can most easily be described as a 3-4-3 formation.

Notts County started with a high tempo, and immediately gained the upper hand. After four minutes, James Spencer headed a very decent chance wide after getting the better of the Town defence. This set the tone for the afternoon; none of our centre backs could cope with Spencer’s use of his body, and they had their most difficult afternoon for some time.

Town’s astonishing knack of conceding to former players reared its head after just nine minutes, when the unmarked Alan Sheehan collected a simple pass and hit a firm, low effort into the far corner from 18 yards. Three former Town defenders (Sheehan, Aden Flint and Sean O’Hanlon) have now scored against Swindon this season, but somehow none of our six current regular centre backs have managed a goal for us. A lack of bodies in wide areas cost us the goal, and proved a major issue all afternoon.

Town responded quickly and Pritchard curled a first time shot narrowly wide after linking up with Nathan Thompson, but sadly missing the target became the theme of Swindon’s day. Michael Smith wasted a good chance from close range around 15 minutes later, before lashing a wild volley about 20 yards over the bar. Smith gave his all as usual, but nothing went right. He badly needs a break, and some more support by August, whether from Nile Ranger or, most likely, someone else. He has had too much on his shoulders for a lad of his age and experience. Whilst I understand Cooper’s frustration with Dany N’Guessan, I would question whether freezing him out altogether has really been fair on Smith.

The second half began with standing water on parts of the pitch, after extensive watering by County at half time. Presumably this was geared towards keeping Town subdued, and, if so, it worked a treat. County had several chances to double their lead, most notably in the 50th minute, when former Swindon loanee Ronan Murray should really have scored when put one-on-one with Foderingham; our star man closed him down and made the save with his feet. Town also endured a few close shaves from various set pieces.

Swindon were little more threatening than during the first half, although our best chance of the game came in the 63rd minute, when Luongo broke free in the County area but put his shot into the side netting. With five minutes to go Pritchard broke forward and hit a firm shot straight at County keeper Bialkowski, which he held at the second attempt. This was our first and only serious attempt on target.

Then came the main event. The scuffle appeared to start with Troy Archibald-Henville pushing over Spencer in the penalty area in the build-up to a throw in, but after that point I really didn’t see anything besides a huge pile of bodies. It went on for longer than any on-field brawl that I remember seeing, and after it finally died down, and the referee had spent a couple of minutes checking with his linesmen that he hadn’t imagined it all, a total of six cards were shown; three to each side. Town were reduced to nine men, with Archibald-Henville shown a straight red, and Nathan Thompson given a second yellow.

We then had the small matter of nine added minutes to handle. Wes Foderingham ended up coming forward for a Pritchard free kick, and when that was cleared he could only watch as County effectively walked the ball into the net to seal the points.

Here are my thoughts:

Player Discipline

We have now had eight red cards this season in all competitions, and three of our players (McEveley, Archibald-Henville and Nathan Byrne) have been sent off twice. Byrne has been quite unlucky, but the others have themselves to blame. Alex Pritchard, Yaser Kasim and Nathan Thompson also receive far too many cards. As the link below shows, our record is strikingly bad.

How have we managed this when, as we all know, we have a slow, patient style of play? Cooper must take a chunk of the blame. I can’t understand managers who seem convinced that referees, as a group, have some kind of vendetta against their team; it makes no sense on any level. Sadly, Cooper falls into this bracket, and perhaps this false sense of injustice rubs off onto some of our players, who must be confident that, however badly they behave on the pitch, their manager will let them off the hook.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think the fans help in this regard either. When, for the umpteenth time, Jay McEveley gets booked for slamming the ball into the ground like a spoiled brat after a minor decision has gone against him, the last thing we should be doing is chanting his name. Equally, I refuse to give Troy Archibald-Henville a standing ovation when he has just been sent off for violent conduct. I can’t buy into the British Bulldog theory that anyone who doesn’t go steaming around like a lunatic, filled with anger and rage, isn’t really trying. Fortunately, most of our young players rise above the poor example set by their experienced colleagues.

Lee Cox

I know I’m repeating what I said in the Carlisle report, but I still cannot understand what Cox is doing in the team. I have no real issue with him; I’ve seen worse central midfielders, and he scored a nice goal against Bradford. But he simply isn’t as good a holding player as Louis Thompson, and, as the stats show, we are a much better team away from home when Thompson starts. I can’t believe that Cooper hasn’t noticed this by now. With five central midfielders under contract for next season, surely we cannot entertain thoughts of keeping Cox, a player who three different managers avoided like the plague for more than two years until late March.

Summary

With one game to play, we have averaged more than two points per game at home, which represents the third best record in the division, behind the runaway top two. Meanwhile, we have averaged less than one point per game away, and have a record no better than that of Tranmere, Colchester or Crewe. We’ve managed to lose away to each of the bottom three, as well as the likes of Notts and Gillingham, without scoring a goal. Although our blip at home to some poor sides during February and early March was frustrating, it’s hard to look beyond the away form as the reason why we have fallen short.

Although Saturday was ultimately a bridge too far, an excellent run of form leading up to it had kept the season interesting for a few weeks longer than we had expected. We can now focus on giving Rotherham’s charming manager his usual warm reception, followed, more importantly, by giving the players and management the credit they deserve for a very decent nine months’ work.

Follow Adam Tanner on Twitter @adamtanner87