Twenty Years Since Wembley ’93: Pitchside at Swindon vs Leicester
BBC Devon’s Vic Morgan recalls his experience of the 1993 Play Off Final, having the fortune of reporting on Town from the Wembley pitchside…
What a game. There’s no question, Swindon versus Leicester City in the Division One Play Off Final was one of the best matches played at the old and shabby Wembley Stadium.
Having watched the two semi-finals against Tranmere from the stands and terraces, I was asked to be pitchside reporter for the final. This was a year after I’d moved to Devon to work. So I gratefully accepted the opportunity to work alongside Nigel Turner and Jed Pitman.
The semi’s were tremendous and full of incident. None more so than Craig Maskell’s slow motion goal at Prenton Park. Seemingly, nipping out for a takeaway after rounding the goalkeeper and then finally rolling the ball into the net. An agonizing few seconds.
The Monday of the game arrived and a morning of collecting broadcast gear and passes followed before a moment I’ll NEVER forget.
You see one of my jobs was to follow the two teams out of the tunnel. John Gorman led the Town out because, of course, Glenn Hoddle was playing. John gave me a quick nod as he made his way to the head of the Swindon team. I waited for the Robins and Foxes to march out and then emerged behind them to hear the most incredible noise. My legs turned to jelly.
I’ve no idea what it would do to you if you were a player. They’re used to coming out to play on football grounds every week. This though was amazing. The only thing I’ve ever compared it too is waiting for Concorde to take off. Your whole body shakes and your legs give way. Astounding.
The game itself ? Well you know the story.
I was behind the goal that the Town were attacking in the first half.
Hoddle’s beautiful opener. Curled effortlessly into the corner of the net. Further goals from Maskill and OO Shaun Taylor seemed to make it safe.
Oh no. Swindon v Leicester matches are never straightforward. Behind me the fans from the East Midlands went crazy as their team fought back to make it level. It was breathtaking, if not heartbreaking, stuff. Swindon so close, yet so far.
Then the penalty. “Chalky” ahem brought down and “Zippy” scoring. Swindon, yes Swindon, were in the Premier League. It was three years since their phantom promotion in the same stadium against Sunderland. Strange how that team has so many links with the Town.
At last we were to see out beloved Swindon in among the elite.
After the game, a frenzy of interviews. Nicky Summerbee, resplendent in a natty straw hat, relaxing on a bench in the famous Wembley dressing rooms. Nicky, a player I’d first interviewed when he was a raw youth player. Now a part of Swindon folklore. The gaffer Glenn Hoddle in a state of undress just taking the whole day in. Just a few days before leaving for Stamford Bridge. Wonderful moments.
Then the journey home and the motorway bridges full of Swindon supporters seemingly unable to believe what had happened.
“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt Pepper taught the band to play”. Glenn Hoddle our own Sgt Pepper taking over what the magician Ossie Ardiles had started. Revolutionising Swindon’s play, after Lou Macari’s glory years.
What a day, what a period of the clubs history. Twenty years ? Doesn’t seem like twenty minutes.