Swindon Managers Month countdown runner up is Fred Ford

No.2 | Fred Ford | Manager July 1969 to November 1971 | Score 409.6

After winning the League Cup and promotion from Division Three Danny Williams was enticed to Sheffield Wednesday in July 1969. With Swindon already in pre-season training the board turn to Fred Ford to steer the Town ship in Division Two. Ford previously coached at Swindon and had spent the past two years as manager at Bristol Rovers. By inheriting the entire squad that won promotion and the League Cup just months before, plus Danny’s last signing Arthur Horsfield, Fred had a great chance to consolidate Town in Division Two.

The 1969/70 season goes down as one of the finest in our history. Fred’s achievements to progress in the league and cups this year, is a remarkable story.

To compensate Swindon for being denied entry into the European Fairs Cup, an Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup was played. The matches against Roma – including a young Fabio Capello – in August and September 1969 gave a famous 5-2 aggregate win. The Associations were impressed with the competition format so this lead to the formation of the Anglo-Italian Cup, first played in May 1970. A double victory against Juventus and 1-0 win away to Napoli, sent Swindon to Naples for the final. At 3-0 up a riot by Napoli supporters disgusted at their team’s performance led to the match being abandoned and the cup award to Swindon. Leaving us with the iconic image of Fred parading the trophy around the irate San Paolo. Yet Fred’s European adventures aren’t counted in this assessment.

Anyway, back to the league and 1969/70 season.

Back in Division Two for a second time Town performed better than expected and kept pace with the leading pack for most of the season. With three games remaining, including one in hand over those around, three points separated Town and 2nd place Blackpool who they were next to face. A win here could’ve propelled Fred’s side to fighting to the end, however a 1-1 draw really ended a dream of a second successive promotion. A final position of 5th would be our highest ever, only beaten in the second tier by Ardiles in 1990.

Success also extended to the FA Cup. High scoring victories over Blackburn, Chester and Scunthorpe took Town to the Quarter-Final for the first time since 1924 and never since equalled. Whilst those already beaten were not First Division sides, the visit of Revie’s Leeds United to the County Ground couldn’t have been a sterner test, defeating Town 2-0. Less should be said about the attempts to retain the League Cup…

1970/71 didn’t live up to expectations. Two years of immense success had to end at some point and the 1969 winning squad were always lagging behind in mid table, formidable at home with 2 defeats, but awful away with 3 wins, eventually finishing 12th. The cups provided some comfort as Town knocked a strong Liverpool side out of the League Cup 3rd Round, only to falter against Fulham. Again Leeds United put paid to Town’s FA Cup run, comprehensively dismissing Town 4-0 at Elland Road.

Ford’s downfall came with the signing of former Player of the Year Dave Mackay for a club record £20,000 in May 1971 without the board consulting Fred. As part of the reshuffle Fred would move to become Chief Scout and Mackay take charge of team selection with a view to taking the managerial reigns full time in 1972/73. Mackay refused to take the managerial position so the board retained Ford, with his power weakened and undoubtably his pride shot to pieces. It is hardly surprising that results suffered and following a 1-0 defeat by Middlesbrough in late October, Ford was sacked, leaving Town 14th with 13 points.

As for the Mackay experiment well that turned out to be a disastrous decision.

So Danny Williams’ first spell in charge is no.1 in this countdown. My review of Danny and his fantastic 1969 League Cup win will be up on Friday.

Good, Bad or Ugly? – Good – Continuing Danny Williams’ legacy with a highest league finish and further cup successes secures a deserved runner up spot for Fred Ford. Just why did the board intervene to move to replace Fred? Impatience, interference and trying to get managers to perform miracles on the cheap blighted Fred and so many more since.

  • Leagues: 3 seasons in Division Two
  • FA Cup: 6 ties & 4 tie wins | Best Quarter Final 1969/70
  • League Cup: 5 ties & 2 tie wins | Best 4th Round 1970/71
  • Achievements: None that are counted here, however winner of Anglo-Italian Cup Winners Cup and Anglo-Italian Cup in 1969/70
League Pld Won Drn Lst For Agg League Pts P/G League Score FAC Score FLC Score
99 36 33 30 128 110 141 1.424 236.42 94.17 79.00

Click here for a full list of the managers in the countdown so far and their scores.

See my earlier post for an explanation of how the scoring works.

* Header photo from swindon-town-fc.co.uk


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