James Constable: Crossing the divide?

After going public with his desire to bring James Constable to Swindon prior to the derby with Oxford United back in August, Paolo Di Canio has again made his intentions clear by launching a new raid on the Kassam to sign the Malmesbury-man this January.

Di Canio’s two bids – understood to be £175,000 and then nearer £250,000 – have been swiftly turned down by Chris Wilder who is trying to keep his play-off contenders together. With two and half weeks remaining of the window there is every chance Paolo will again turn to unsettle Constable as he continues to collect strikers, perhaps even by the time you read this article judging by the fast pace of events; or not now judging by James Constable’s tweet on Thursday evening.

Constable featuring for Kidderminster

Paolo’s pursuit of Constable was originally driven by his desire for a ‘pacey, tall and two footed striker’, with a record for scoring important goals at this level. At the time Di Canio also gave significant emphasis to an assertion that ‘he’s a big Swindon fan, why wouldn’t he want to help us out?’ as part of the pre-derby mind games to unsettle the striker.

Of course, the later seemed to backfire on Di Canio as the supposed ‘Swindon fan’ scored twice and ran the length of the pitch kissing the Oxford United badge to celebrate at the Stratton Bank. It wasn’t until after the match when Constable’s loyalties to boyhood club Tottenham were soon revealed to Di Canio, who swiftly changed the subject.

There is no doubt that on the field of play James Constable fits the bill. His strong frame, power, desire and movement were there for all to see at the County Ground in August. However for every Town fan who would love to get one over Oxford by signing their proven and ‘star’ striker, others just remember Joey Beauchamp and the hurt of watching one of the U’s most celebrated sons in red.

The comparison with Beauchamp only exists because he plays for United. Unlike Beauchamp, if you cut Constable he won’t bleed yellow and blue, so in that sense the likeness stops there.

Paolo wanted Constable because he's utterly utterly brilliant...

To see the Wiltshireman James Constable – who lets remember, Town missed out on signing when he left Chippenham to join Walsall in November 2005 – return to play in Wiltshire would break a long gap between transfers running this way along the A420.

Aside from Tommy Mooney’s move in the summer of 2004 to ply his trade at the Kassam, Town haven’t ‘welcomed’ a direct transfer between the two clubs since Mark Jones joined in October 1986. Indeed, Jones is only one of two players who have ever made the jump from United to the County Ground – the other being goalkeeper Mick Kearns on loan in May 1970 who never made an appearance as cover for Peter Downsborough.

With Di Canio’s filing cabinets full of scouting reports on strikers and Town linked to several players including Izale McCleod, Lewis Grabban and a permanent move for Ronan Murray in recent weeks, are Swindon’s intentions to sign Constable really genuine or that critical to our season…

Whether Constable joins Swindon is perhaps irrelevant. The transfer window has provided Paolo with a canny opportunity to launch a bid for Constable, which was always a near forgone conclusion that it wouldn’t manifest itself with a move to the County Ground. But this approach can lead to benefits for Swindon with Constable becoming unsettled, other clubs may be alerted to his potential availability and sign him up, which in turn will hopefully derail Oxford’s promotion hopes.


  • I have it on VERY good authority, that we have offered him a package of twice what he is currently on, but in loyalty to Oxford, he can’t bring himself to make the move. Admirable loyalty, if extremely misguided.


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