TheWashbag meets Fraser Digby: Part 2 – Macari, Ardiles & Demotion

In our first in-depth interview with a Swindon Town legend, Ron Smith interviews Fraser Digby on his career and life after football. Fraser and his washbag were the inspiration for this site, so it was a great pleasure to meet and interview him.

 In this second of six parts to be published over the next couple of weeks, we talk about life at the County Ground under managers Lou Macari and Ossie Ardiles, including the impact of demotion in 1990.

What memories have you got of working under Lou Macari?

For me I always had a good relationship with Lou. He brought me to the club, he put me under his wings and he took me as one of his sons.

If he took you under his wings, did he treat you differently to any other player?

Probably not. He had his ways and means, he treated people differently. So certain people he’d have to give a kick up the arse, he wasn’t going to put his arm around Steve Foley, he give him a kick up the backside. But he knew the players and he knew how best to get it out of them.

You could see that by the players, the most successful players signed for this club, bringing in players and then selling them on, most of those players were those which Lou brought to the club. You look, it’s incredible the amount of money he made for the football club, he’s got to be one of the most successful managers of his time.

Much has been written about Lou being a harsh disciplinarian, similar to today and Swindon under Paolo Di Canio…

Do you know what that is one of the big things. I’ve heard stories about now, some of the players coming in and the way they train, no disrespect [to them] some of the training we did under Lou was a damn-sight worse than today.

Can you imagine players of today turning up for training on a Thursday morning and Lou is stood with a stopwatch by the changing rooms, we’d get the trainers on, leave the club, run down Queens Drive, left at Coate, down to Dorcan and then back down Shrivenham Road. It was five and half miles. The best lads, the people like Leigh Barnard and Chris Kamara used to do that in 32 minutes, I used to come in around 37. [As a result] the Town goalkeepers at that time were the fittest in the country because of the work that we did, so much it was phenomenal.

Now I can see what Paolo is doing with the players, it’s very similar along those discipline line. What he did with some of the boys [Simon Ferry etc] after they went out is exactly what Lou would’ve done in that situation. The only difference is Lou would’ve had them in on a Sunday morning, but actually I think Di Canio also does that – Sunday morning training, so it is similar.

So when Lou left to join West Ham was there any an opportunity to follow him out?

Yes. Although I didn’t know at the time.

It was only since finishing playing it was mentioned by the chairman that came in, Ken Chapman – who I know really well – and he said that at the time there were one or two things that had gone on that obviously I can’t repeat. The bank wasn’t doing the bank any favours so Ken had to come in to balance the books.

It was either me or Alan McLoughlin to leave the club. When Alan was going to go for a million Pounds to Southampton, if I went for a million Pounds the Club would only get half the money [as Manchester United held a 50% sell on clause] and then they would need to pay at least quarter of a million to get a half decent ‘keeper, so they’d only be left with quarter of a million. Selling Alan they had enough decent midfielder players to fill the gap, [although] you’re not totally going to fill the gap as Alan was a quality player.

So that was how it went. Alan went first for a million pounds, then there was talk about me joining West Ham for the same money, but it wouldn’t have been a good deal for the club.

The great Argentinean Ossie Ardiles took over in the summer of 1989. What were your reactions at the time?

With Lou’s ways perhaps we could only go so a certain way, when Lou left and Ossie came in he changed the mentality, he changed the personnel to a certain extent, and a lot of the team that won at Wembley in 1990 was Lou’s team; with just the added technical stuff that Ossie brought to the club. But we were fit and that was the difference.

So it is true what they say about Macari’s fitness regime…

The difference was, the reason why we did well that first year in 1990 after Lou had gone, was because we were still living on that fitness from Lou. Ossie brought in that confidence to play, the little one touch, the 5-a-sides, you know the way he used to play as a player, but we’d already that grounding of fitness.

I was there that day at Wembley, a fantastic day. All that followed made me learn the harsh realities of football, but what were your memories of victory over Sunderland.

It was a phenomenal day. We enjoyed the day. It was one of the most one-sided 1-0 victories I’ve ever been involved in! We totally deserved the win.

I remember celebrating afterwards getting on the coach, the big thing for me was when we drove back into Swindon, everyone was on the bridges, on the side of the road, you’re never going to get anything like it again unfortunately. You always remember, that for me was what really stuck out. Then back to the hotel and celebrating all day long.

Were the players party to information concerning the financial irregularities and potential consequences before our trip to Wembley?

No. It was only afterwards. The visits from the Inland Revenue and all those sorts of things, the harsh realities of it comes to the fore.

At the time when you’re playing your game you don’t expect, you expect you’ve done this football and we’ll stay where we are.

We won it on the pitch fair and square. It wasn’t as if we had been paying for players illegally. We players went out there and done our job, and got promoted.

And that’s the only one regret I’ve got in football, is that team there didn’t have the opportunity to play in the top division.

I completely agree. I still believe that the side in 1990 was a great team and were well equipped to establish themselves in Division One compared to when we did reach the top flight in 1993.

Yes. The problem [following promotion in 1993] was in 1992/93 the Sky money had started coming through and the gap was already becoming bigger between Division One and the second division. So back in 1990 we definitely had a better chance of holding our own for at least a year.

All the players in the group were younger and that would’ve helped. The likes of Colin [Calderwood] wouldn’t have gone and that’s the difference. If we would’ve kept that team together and got some more in to establish ourselves.

How did the events post Wembley in 1990 impact on the players? Looking back now what’s surprising is that there wasn’t a mass exodus.

We stayed together because we had then gone back to where we were [following re-instatement in Division Two]. I think that had we got relegated two divisions [to Division Three as originally sanctioned] it would’ve been a different kettle-of-fish.

It was a difficult, it wasn’t as if some of the Division One clubs had come in for some of the players, saying we want him or we want him, it didn’t work out that way.

I can’t see that some loyalty happening today…

Oh yes, the whole team would’ve disbanded, it’s a different kettle-of-fish today. Football has changed beyond belief, it’s a totally different scenario now.

So out went Ossie towards the end of 1990/91. Why did it turn sour post Wembley?

That following year [after demotion] we lost our way totally because Ossie didn’t want to enforce the heavy handed approach. He wanted to give the lads a bit of freedom, a bit of space, due to the disappointment of getting demoted. Really it needed someone like Lou to come in again and say right, get you by the scruff of the neck and go.

However much I loved Ossie, he ended up losing it. Because he lost the team and he got little cliques in there that tried to control things; we weren’t playing as a team like we were playing under Lou because everyone was in the same boat, he [Lou] didn’t like you going out drinking, going out eating, so many things that Lou [would've frowned upon], but we then all worked together. I remember when people didn’t like it [but] we were successful.

In what way did Ossie ‘lose it’?

He lost the dressing room really, not in a nasty way, but the fact is there was divisions in the dressing room. There were certain players that were basically influencing Ossie, I won’t name them but I know who they were. So they tried to influence him and Ossie was soft, he wanted to please everybody.

In what way would a player want to influence Ossie?

Team selection, the whole lot, training, you know. They spent a lot of time with Ossie and it was always going to go wrong. And that’s what ultimately happened and Ossie jumped ship and went to Newcastle.

Another crucial factor was the sale of Alan McLaughlin…

Yes [although] that was very much to do with the finances. Money had to be found to pay back the bank.

Read Part 1 here.

Part 3 follows on Saturday with Fraser discussing Glenn Hoddle, a return to Old Trafford and a flirt with the Premier League.

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Fraser Digby is the Wiltshire distributor for Errea Sportswear and Reusch goalkeeping products. Find out more about Fraser and what he’s up to at http://fraserdigby.com/

Hall of Shame #15: Shaun Close, but no cigar…

Shaun Close Rhyl 8

Our Swindon Town Hall of Shame continues with entry no.15 – Shaun Close, who is arguably the worst player ever to wear the famous red & white. Writes Matthew Fry.

In a time that seems only yesterday for me, Swindon Town trained pre match on a scrubby patch of land where the giant Tesco superstore on Ocatal Way now stands in the Town. The area was non-descript and entry was afforded by squeezing through a hedge or two. It was a bizarre sight to see a footballing legend – a man that graced World cups – Ossie Ardiles, pushing Tom Jones through that gap and preparing his team for a shot at promotion.

My younger Brother and I would follow the players through the foliage; creased autographed books held in sweaty palm, hoping, praying that we’d convince one of the team to scribble their signature in our book. I was privileged during that summer, standing awe-struck watching my heroes practise their trade, getting a first hand look and access to the team that I thought was beyond a little Herbert like myself.

The players more than lived up to my starstruck expectations, over the weeks they became chatty and would  even acknowledge us, as we stood behind the goal fetching the ball back for Nicky Hammond or Fraser Digby as Steve White hit another one wide.

There was one player there, that I could not get a handle on. I didn’t even know what that expression meant at the time. That player was Shaun Close.

A short, stocky player that we’d signed in 1989; as a Town fan I always expected any player that wore the red shirt to deliver the goods, no matter what. These players were my ultimate idols. Rival players on other teams were, in my opinion were shocking and I relished the chance to holler at them at every opportunity. Swindon players were beyond my abuse. In my eyes, they were all footballing greats.

Shaun Close on the other hand was a player that confused me greatly. Watching him as he trained was an eye opener. He was actually quite good. Darting skillfully between defenders and rapping the ball past the ‘keeper. He would do it again and again. I wondered, why the hell couldn’t he do that in an actual match?

To see Close play like that gave me hope that one day, come the league, he’d unleash what was there, and nick a hat-trick and help stuff our next opponents. It wasn’t ever to be.

‘Shaun Close’ in Rhyl. And it’s not even a cul-de-sac…

Signed by Ardiles, his first for the club, he arrived from Bournemouth and was something of an unknown quantity when he joined us. In those days there was no such thing as no-quibble refund for faulty or defunct goods. Shame as the South Coast side would have had a return on their hands instantly. Having shelled out for his services, it was common for fringe players from other teams to join us and then prove their worth. He started out with Tottenham then moved abroad to Sweden were he played for Halmstad before upping sticks and heading home to Blighty for Bournemouth. He lasted there for just one season before he joined the Town.

Close was the type of attacker that would charge toward the opponent’s goal at full pelt. Homing in on goal when the keeper would have it firmly in his hands and under control.

Once kicked upfield, Close would then chase the ball back up the park like a small child exposed to the delights of e-numbered fizzy pop and burn out. Small in stature, he looked like R2-D2 in a toupee, he could never climb well enough to win a headed ball and he could never seem to muster enough force to kick the ball with the required power should the rare occasion of him being actually in front of goal come occur. It’s easy to see why the strike partnership of Steve White and Duncan Shearer couldn’t be broken up. They must have been confident their starting spot would always be intact.

While Shearer and White contributed buckets of goals to the cause, Shaun Close was able to score twice. Not quite the hit ratio the masses crave.

Although an eager and energetic worker, Close could not translate that into crowd-pleasing. He liked to receive the ball in his midriff, back to goal, ready to turn and spin away. This is all well and good but when you can only turn like an uneaten cold sprout being pushed around a plate, you know you’re in trouble.

Holding the ball up by expertly trapping it with his shin and knocking it out for a throw-in was also another one of his preferred skills. He was also an expert in gaining a collective groan from the County Ground faithful when he was named on the subs bench. His first teams starts were, almost non-existent – 15 in four seasons. Even if he didn’t enter the field of play, the thought of having to rely on him, should the need occur, sent chills through the supporters.

I couldn’t fathom how this player I’d seen dazzle in training couldn’t score in a brothel. When I screamed at his incompetence from the terraces, I hoped my off key teenage voice would break soon so he could actually hear the abuse I shouted.

I did actually meet him properly once face to face at an open day at the club and had my photo taken with him. The Alan McLoughlins and the Ross McLarens of this world held all the attentions of the fans as we walked behind the scenes that day as my brother and I, came across a lonely figure by the bar without a single fan near him. I was panged with some sort of strange feeling that was later revealed to me as guilt and I asked him if he wouldn’t mind giving me an autograph and posing for a snap and he dutily agreed. He was pleasant and kind, asking if I was enjoying myself and if I was an avid fan. I’m glad he was blissfully unaware that I thought he stunk.

In my opinion he was the absolute worst player ever to grace the County Ground and that takes some sort of skill. Shaun Close take your place in the Swindon Town Hall of Shame!

Read More Tales from the Hall of Shame…

View Shaun Close’s STFC profile on swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Going Up! 1989/90… Every silver lining has a cloud

final report2 2

In our second look back to a previous STFC promotion campaign, Brendan Hobbs recalls the story of the turbulent 1989/90 season – Every silver lining has a cloud.

1990, lets recap it shall we – it was fantastic year, we had the hottest summer on record, then got involved in small scuffle in the Gulf, Mandela was released, Thatcher quit, and we all had a good ol’ knees up destroying shop fronts and overturning burning cars during the Poll Tax riots.

British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) was launched to rival Sky and with such shows like ‘Heil Honey I’m Home’ you wonder how on earth they failed.

Meanwhile in the sporting calendar, England lost on penalties in the World Cup, Buster Douglas flattened Mike Tyson, Paul Gascoigne pipped green baize miserabilist Stephen Hendry to the BBC ‘Sports Personality  of the Year’ award, underachievers Manchester United won the FA Cup, and all conquering Liverpool the League.

Oh, and Swindon Town won promotion to the First Division (Premier League to you young ‘uns) for the first time, except they didn’t, they were demoted two divisions instead, except they weren’t, they were actually demoted one. Confused? Read on.

Let’s step back to the start of that season – it’s the summer of 1989 and shrill scouser Sonia was riding high in the UK charts with the bubbly, yet faintly aggressive sounding “You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You!” On the field it was a summer of flux as Lou Macari buggered off to West Ham United and Swindon promptly replaced him with another famous, untried manager in one Osvaldo César Ardiles.

The season didn’t start well – a gloomy cloud was hovering over the club, The People newspaper had started nosing around the clubs financial affairs and managed to stumble across something that smelt very bad indeed. The new season was just weeks away when the future Town sponsors published the first of its articles concerning alleged financial misdemeanours, Chairman Brian Hillier was accused of putting money on Swindon winning the 1987 title to act as insurance against players bonuses.

Ossie was largely inactive in the transfer market so nine of the same team which tasted defeat in previous years play-offs started the new season’s opener against Sunderland. The only notable additions were rotund summer signing Tony Galvin and Ossie taking a place on the bench (one of only two substitutes allowed in those days.)

The season kicked off in front of over 10,000 fans packed into the County Ground, everyone awash with optimism and excitement – Town duly lost 2 nil. Not the best of starts and in fact we went on to only win once in the first seven games.

September arrived and Town were hovering above the relegation zone after a 4 nil thumping by champions elect Leeds United, worryingly Swindon had failed to score in 4 of those seven games.

Earlier in the month Ossie had dipped into the transfer market in an effort to cure our striking woes, it didn’t quite pay off but he unearthed a real Town legend (for all the wrong reasons) in Shaun Close.

A few fans blamed the poor form on the financial investigations into the club, personally I think the change in style, tactics and training had a big effect. Moving from the rather robust, direct game favoured by Macari to the quick, one touch stuff of Ossie was proving a difficult change for the players.

Town finally found some form in their next game and recorded a 3 nil win over Plymouth, this proved a catalyst for a big improvement in front of goal. Tasting one defeat in the next nine games Town scored a mammoth 24 goals, including a six nil hammering of Mick Mills’ Stoke City. A game which ended with both sets of fans calling for the Stoke managers head, one set quite angrily, the other very sarcastically.

Although the wind of change was gusting through Eastern Europe collapsing the Berlin Wall in the process, The People newspaper decided to largely ignore these historic events and instead publish further lurid revelations concerning Hillier – and his penchant to bet against his own club.

Despite this, Town continued to pick up valuable points and by the time the final whistle sounded in mid December after a crazy 2-1 win at the Hawthorns, Town sat just below the playoffs.

West Brom were awarded three penalties on the night, but only beat Fraser Digby once – he managed a brilliant save for one and suffered neck ache from the other – watching the wayward kick sail over the bar.

The New Year arrived and after enduring yet another Cliff Richard Christmas number one, Swindon could reflect on some valuable points won over the festive break. A fantastic home win against fellow play-off hopefuls Blackburn on Boxing Day was followed up with a draw against Newcastle and after a comfortable New Years day away win at Watford, Swindon found themselves in fifth.

Come the month of March while Britain’s militant community were busy priming Molotov cocktails and purchasing balaclavas for the Poll Tax riots, Town were on a brilliant run, suffering just one defeat in 13 – including a 3-2 win against table topping Leeds.

Swindon scored three times in three consecutive matches that month, so as cars burned and Coppers ‘kettled’ on Oxford Street, Colin Calderwood was firing home an extraordinary strike from just over the halfway line in a home victory against Port Vale.

Again though, Swindon ended up in the spotlight for the wrong reasons and eventually, against the constant backdrop of scandal and allegation, Hillier is found guilty in court and banned for six months for breaking FA Rules on gambling – lengthened to 3 years on appeal. Former boss Macari is fined £1,000 for his part in the scandal, he too decides to appeal, which is one step too far for his current employers West Ham who force him to resign.

Town soldier on but just before the last game of the season another blow hits the club when Hillier, Macari, Colin Calderwood and Secretary Vince Farrar are arrested and questioned by the Inland Revenue concerning charges of tax fraud. Calderwood is released without charge, the others are given bail.

The season eventually comes to a close with Swindon sitting in 4th, our highest ever league position. With every fan frothing with play-off excitement, Swindon travelled to Blackburn’s Ewood Park for the semi-final first leg, looking a more prepared unit compared to the side that featured in the previous year’s play-offs.

On the whole, Blackburn were outplayed over the two matches, with Steve Foley scoring an absolute barnstormer in the away leg to clinch a fantastic 2-1 win, I almost broke my ankle collapsing down the crumbling terrace under the sheer weight of celebration.

The result made the second encounter almost a formality as Swindon won by the same scoreline to book their place in the Wembley final.

I can’t remember much about the actual day, I had been to Wembley before to see a couple of FA Cup finals, but this was the first time to watch Swindon.

Town triumphed 1 nil, in a very one sided encounter, with Alan McLoughlin bagging the vital goal via a deflection. “The biggest 1 nil thrashing you’ll ever see” summarised ‘Greavsie’ when I watched the VHS recording the next day. It crowned a fantastic season for Alan, the goal was his seventeenth of the season – not a bad return for a midfielder and it also earned him a late call up to the Eire World Cup squad.

After the game, the majority of Sunderland fans were pretty magnanimous in defeat, wishing us all the best as we milled away from the ground. But the spectre of possible future sanctions loomed large in everyone’s mind – whilst queuing to get out of Wembley a Sunderland fan had a sheet of paper pressed against a coach window with “THE TAXMAN WILL GET YOU” written on it.

My heart sank when I saw it, all the euphoria and excitement I had accumulated during the day dissipated in an instant.

Post match, every TV news report of the game always started on a celebratory note but then descended into a void of depression when the language turned from ‘winners’ and ‘promotion’ to ‘irregularities’ and ‘relegation’. We made a splash on the back page of The Times the day after the final, hardly the most celebratory of headlines, no “Yeah! Swindon! Division One!”

By the time Adamski hit the number one spot with aptly named song ‘Killer’ it finally happened, our dreams were killed. With almost a feeling of perverse relief I heard new Chairman Gary Herbert telling us that the unthinkable had happened – Swindon were to be demoted two divisions and would start the 90/91 season in Division Three.

Italia 90 kicked off, I thought that might help me forget our enforced double relegation, but not even the sight of various Cameroon players merrily kicking chunks out of their Argentine counterparts could alter my mood.

Eventually on appeal the punishment was lifted slightly – with Swindon only being demoted the one division – annoying the hell out of Bournemouth and Tranmere in the process who needed to reshuffle to make way.

Alternative Rock Combo the Teenage Fanclub once advised us all “not to look back on empty feelings”, and this lyric encapsulates brilliantly the whole sorry mess. I look back now and feel nothing, I’m totally devoid of any emotions concerning that season. All we achieved was totally wiped away by the scandal that followed, no-one outside Swindon remembers the lovely football, the fantastic goals, they just remember the negative headlines, the demotions and the arrests.

So, at the end, how do I sum up such a complicated season up in one paragraph?

Well, imagine you’re playing Hamlet at the world renowned Globe theatre and you’re performing the role better than Olivier or Gielgud ever managed. The hushed audience is simply awed by what they’re witnessing, a brilliant career defining performance – and then, whilst you emotionally deliver your final, dying words you fart, really, really loudly and ruin it all – absolutely everything.

And there you have it, right there, the 1989/90 season; the one that got away. So rightly celebrate our promotion from League Two today because its ours, we won it on the pitch and these promotions are like gold dust…

Read more tales from promotion campaigns…

Managers Month No.5 – Ossie Ardiles

No.5 | Ossie Ardiles | Manager July 1989 to March 1991 | Score 363.9

Ossie Ardiles succeeded Lou Macari back in the summer of 1989 and also in this countdown, as we enter the top five Swindon Town managers.

The small and smiling Argentinian became Swindon’s first manager from outside of the home nations with the task of building upon Lou’s meteoric rise up the league. Attracting Ossie was a significant coup. Only five years previous Town finished within ten points of facing re-election to stay in Division Four, yet now could count on a World Cup winner and creative linchpin for Spurs, as a first promotion to the top flight was the objective. The contrast couldn’t be greater.Continue Reading

My First Signing… Glenn Hoddle

After writing about Ossie Ardiles’ first signing back in January it’s finally time to look at his successor, Glenn Hoddle.

Glenn Hoddle joined Town in early April 1991 shortly after Ossie resigned to take over at Newcastle United. Although Glenn had to wait until July to sign his first player… Martin Ling, who joined Town for a second time.

Ling had originally joined Town back in July 1986 for £25,000 from his first club Exeter City. In his first spell, Ling made only 2 league appearances for Lou Macari and he lasted until mid October when he was sent packing to Southend United for £15,000. Lou had clearly brought in the wrong man to suit his style of play and Town suffered a £10,000 loss in no time at all.

Despite this less than successful time at Town, 5 years later Ling made his return.. this time on loan. Ossie Ardiles signed Ling on loan from Southend United in late March. Another Town old boy also returned on the same day, albeit one with greater pedigree.. none other than Paul Rideout joining from Southampton.  Only 3 days later Ossie resigned and joined Newcastle United and soon Glenn Hoddle took over.

Although he only made 1 substitute appearance in the remainder of 1990/1991, coming on as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat at Port Vale on the final day of the season, he obviously made a good impression on Hoddle, who made Ling his first signing on the 15th July 1991 for £15,000.

Hoddle clearly brought the best out of Ling, 23 league appearances and 3 goals in 1991/1992 followed by the magnificent achievement of playing in all but one league and play-off games and scoring 3 goals in our triumphant 1992/1993 promotion year.

In the Premiership Ling never fulfilled his promise. Although that could be said of pretty much the rest of the Town squad. Following the Premier League season Ling couldn’t regain his form in his two further seasons at The County Ground. When first team chances became ever more limited he eventually left at the end of the 1995/1996 season after making a total of 155 league appearances and scoring 10 goals.

After retiring in September 2001 after playing spells at Leyton Orient, Brighton and Purfleet, Ling had to wait until December 2003 for his first foray into management at Leyton Orient. After 2 and a half years at Brisbane Road Ling had led Orient to their first automatic promotion in 36 years and then successfully kept the club in League One in 2006/2007. Orient were punching above their weight and with a restrictive budget the team found it hard to compete. Inevitably Orient slipped lower down the table and Ling was dismissed in January 2009.

In July 2009 Ling was back in management at Conference National Cambridge United, but only lasted 9 days, resigning citing irreconcilable differences with the then chairman George Rolls. Then for the turnaround 16 days after he original appointment Ling returned to take over the reigns after Rolls left the club. Ling is still at Cambridge after guiding the U’s to 10th last season.

 

from guardian.co.uk

 

My first signing… Ossie Ardiles

With no game this weekend following our FA Cup defeat at Fulham, it’s a good time to look back at one of our former players.  In this first of a new feature, a review of various Town managers’ first signings over the past 20 years, starting in 1989 with Ossie Ardiles’ first signing.  For the purposes on this feature I won’t be including a player signed to also perform an assistant or coaching role.

Ossie Ardiles’ first signing was Shaun Close on the 8th September 1989.  Shaun signed from Division Two (current Championship) side AFC Bournemouth for an undisclosed fee.  Born on 8th September 1966, Shaun was a centre forward who started his career in the Tottenham Hotspur youth team, later making 9 appearances  but failing to score any goals until he left Spurs in 1988.  His time at Spurs coincided with Ossie’s time at the club and evidently he must have made some positive impression on Ossie to call on Shaun shortly after becoming manager at Town.

After leaving Spurs in 1988, Shaun had a short spell at Halmstad in Sweden, later joining AFC Bournemouth in 1988, making 39 appearances and scoring 8 goals.

A centre-forward should score some goals, even a squad player.  At Town Shaun perfected the fine art of being a complete failure on the pitch over his 4 seasons as his total match record in all competitions shows.

1989/1990 season – 4 apps (+11 subs) and 0 goals

1990/1991 season – 5 apps (+10 subs) and 1 goal

1991/1992 season – 4 apps (+10 subs) and 1 goal

1992/1993 season – 2 apps (+7 subs) and 0 goals

Total – 15 starts plus 38 sub appearances and 2 goals

Statistics don’t lie.  His first goal didn’t come until a League Cup (Rumbelows) second leg tie against Darlington.  Another sixteen months passed until Shaun’s second , and only other Town goal in a 5-3 defeat at Oxford United.   Mainly used as a substitute he failed to make any impact and was eventually released after the Wembley play-off win against Leicester in May 1993.  Evidently, Shaun was one of Ossie’s least successful signings of an otherwise great spell in charge.  It’s not clear whether his signing was based on anything other than Ossie’s memories of Shaun’s time at Spurs, perhaps wishful hoping of an initial bargain an first joining Town.

After leaving Swindon, Shaun joined Barnet where in 27 league appearances in 1993/1994 he hit 2 goals in Division Three (League One) and was released at the end of the season.  He clearly wasn’t league standard and moves into the non-league to Bishop’s Stortford in the Isthmian League, where he finishes his career.

Now long retired from football, Shaun is the publican of The George Public House in Hoddesdon and organiser of the S.O.B.S. Golf Society.