Hall of Shame #26: Tooting and Mitcham United 2-1 Swindon Town

We continue our Swindon Town Hall of Shame by inducting our second FA Cup horror story. Pete Marsh recalls an infamous FA Cup Third Round defeat in 1975/76 to non-league Tooting and Mitcham United…

It happened during 1975/96, a season best remembered for avoidance of relegation from Division Three by hammering hapless Aldershot 5-2 in a ‘four-pointer’ as they were then.  This was along with the departure of Peter Eastoe and the eventual return of ’69 hero Don Rogers.  The home form that season was reasonably good, the away form left a lot to be desired.  The FA Cup run, such as it was, had all started off plenty of expectations…

Swindon had initially breezed past Newport County 3-0 in the First Round. In the Second Round, Town were drawn away to non-league Hendon.  That trip to North London gave some insight into to the sufferings of Scott and his colleagues on the way back from the South Pole.

I don’t remember ever being so cold at a football match.  I wasn’t the only one as I witnessed a frozen Peter Lorenzo in the BBC radio car; that turned out to be a converted London taxi fitted with a giant antenna.  He was slumped forward in the driver’s seat wearing fingerless gloves similar to those famously worn by Albert Steptoe.  Later, his match report shivered through his own tribulations mentioning in-passing a penalty scored by Will Dixon that narrowly won the tie 1-0.  To this day, I don’t know why the penalty was awarded with the action at the opposite end to the Town supporters…

More action was to follow, though.  Some of the locals apparently in an attempt to stave off hypothermia decided to chase the Town supporters to the two parked coaches, along with a hail of missiles.  This was despite the potential victims including women and children.  In the coach that had remained intact, we heard that the other coach had suffered broken windows.  There wasn’t a cop in sight. Well, it was a very cold day, but ironic considering the proximity of the Metropolitan Police College.

On the following Monday, the draw for the Third Round was another tie with a non-league side. This was one that few had even heard of and to make it even more the perfect draw, it was to be played at the County Ground and against Tooting and Mitcham United of the Isthmian League Division One.  Our trek that would’ve made Ernest Shackleton proud was to be rewarded with a golden opportunity to make into the Fourth Round for the sixth time in nine seasons.

Besides being the era of the Morris Marina, the mid-seventies were at a time when Reg Dwight was top of the charts across the world, including each side of the Atlantic.  Reg was the biggest name in pop music, and his fame and fortune were making the Beatles seem like a garage band.  Well Reg wasn’t really Reg, he was Elton.  It would’ve been too much like a Monty Python sketch to have a pop superstar named Reg.  There we are, a bunch of trivia of no consequence until after the 2-2 draw at the County Ground.

The team that played Tooting and Mitcham included only John Trollope, Frank Burrows and Joe Butler from the 1969 League Cup winning side.  There were exciting players including David Moss, Trevor Anderson and Peter Eastoe – who was soon to depart – also Tom Jenkins was available for selection – a Dave McKay signing he was often on the bench as at the time the only sub.

Swindon were cruising into the Fourth Round with just minutes left on the clock, with Eastoe and Dixon were the goalscorers. As recounted on Match of the Day with great glee, Tooting and Mitcham United then abruptly woke up and scored two goals in rapid succession to take Town to a replay in Morden as it finished 2-2.  Then the media avalanche began. Tooting and Mitcham were managed by Roy Dwight, Reg Dwight’s cousin.  Not only that, Roy had received an FA Cup winners medal with Nottingham Forest after, along the way to the final, coincidentally knocking out Tooting and Mitcham.  Hopefully, all the hype surrounding the Elton John connection was to be immediately forgotten after the replay…

Suffice it to say, Tooting and Mitcham ran out 2-1 winners in the replay at Sandy Lane.  Their team for both ties included Ron Howell, a former Town player signed in the wake of the Dave McKay apocalypse.  Howell hardly had pulled up any trees during his time in Wiltshire.  To make matters worse, Tooting and Mitcham scored all three goals after Dave Juneman scored for the hosts and Bobby Green’s own goal for Swindon. The winner came from Tooting winger Alan Ives, whose great solo run saw him beat several players before scoring, which Don Rogers’ replacement Tom Jenkins almost nearly, but seldom, did in previous games for Town.

The following month Tom Jenkins was transferred to Peterborough, after not having the chance to change the tide of either game.  Of course, the defeat of the Division Three side by the heroic part-timers from South London managed by the cup winning hero cousin of Elton John, made Swindon Town seem like a candle in a hurricane.  Previous giant-killing manager Danny Williams was put on the spot in various interviews in the aftermath grumpily stating that his players were ‘professionals’…

Perhaps, in hindsight, a cup run may have resulted in distraction and relegation for Swindon.  The Town survived in Division Three by the skin of their teeth by a single point.

Meanwhile, Tooting and Mitcham United were defeated by Bradford City 3-1 in the Fourth Round. That run through to the Fourth Round proper remains The Terror’s best run in the FA Cup and they’ve only made it to the First Round proper on three further occasions – the most recent being a 0-5 defeat at Stockport County in 2009/10. Later that 1975/76 season United would finish 7th in the Isthmian League Division One and remain within the Isthmian league system to this day.

For the disappointment, especially for those who made it back from the icy wastes of Hendon, and for all the media hype surrounding Roy and his cousin Reg, the 1976 defeat by Tooting and Mitcham United should rightfully take its place in the Swindon Town Hall of Shame.  Let’s be thankful that Adele wasn’t born in Macclesfield…

Read more tales from the Swindon Town Hall of Shame…

Follow Pete Marsh on Twitter @GreenPumice

5 comments

  • I remember the home game, 2-0 up and cruising, or so it seemed! Thankfully I didn’t go to the away game.

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  • I was a Tooting supporter, 10 years old at the time, taken to both games by my Nan and Grandad. 2-0 after five minutes in the first game and it didn’t look good. Amazing feeling to see us equalise with 2 goals in the last 5 minutes, before winning the replay 2-1 with News at 10 cameras present.

    At the time Tooting were probably in the top 10 of non-league sides – it was pre-Conference days.

    By the way, Hendon were in the same league as Tooting that season alongside and finished just above us, along with Dagenham and Wycombe Wanderers.

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    • Stevieboyhistory

      I went to both games….aargh!
      First match my brother and I just got there in time on his motorbike. Cruising. Imagining the draw for the next round. Gutted.
      Went to away game on coach. Arrived just in time. Thought it would be a breeze. Stood behind a jammed pack goal. I was 15 and did not know about much. Had a horrible experience, being squeezed by some guy behind me, need I say more. Saw Eastoe score, but we were dreadful. Worse night of my life.
      Football can do bad stuff to you. Why am I still interested? Why?
      COYR

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  • Sorry but some of this just isn’t correct. We didn’t beat Aldershot 5-2, we beat them 6-3. And Tom Jenkins didn’t leave for Peterborough. Trevor Anderson did. Jenkins left to play in the States.

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    • Trevor Anderson did leave for Peterborough and Tom Jenkins left to play in the States. So Swindon and Peterborough didn’t have Tom Jenkins in common, only enforced relegation.

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