Vic Morgan Blog: The Ides of March…

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.


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