50 Years On: 1963/64 March – Swindon in the big time for the first time

1963-1964 Squad Crop

Throughout this season Mike Minihane has been taking a look back at Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’, following the promotion to Division Two for the 1963/64 season. Mike continues with a review of March 1964…

Top of the Charts – Little Children – Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas

At the beginning of March 1964 in an attempt to arrest our decline Swindon Town had signed two new players. Norman Oakley, a goalkeeper, had come from Hartlepools United. Hartlepool were rubbish and constantly had to apply for re-election  to the Football League, so we were less than impressed with this, despite being assured that he was their best player and but for him they would have been in an even more dire position, if that were possible. The other was Frank Large, a ‘robust’ centre forward had come from Northampton Town. Frank had always given us a hard time and had scored three against us that season, so his arrival was viewed with more optimism…

And so it proved when both made their debuts at home to Plymouth Argyle, Oakley misjudged a cross to allow Plymouth’s Dave Corbett an easy goal to give the visitors a one goal lead. Corbett was an ex Town player so that was totally to be expected. Then Frank Large became an instant hero, quickly equalising and then scoring the winner five minutes from time. Two signings; one dud and one hero, it could’ve been worse. This was our first home win since mid-December, perhaps things were looking up!

Our next game took us to Charlton Athletic and Frank Large continued his heroics by scoring our first goal in a 2-2 draw, with ‘Big’ Bill Atkins getting the other. This was a very decent point against a team who were going well and in fourth place, our confidence was growing. The following Saturday we were home to Middlesbrough, a mid-table side with a young, highly-rated player called Arthur Horsfield leading their attack. ‘King Arthur’ would later become our then record signing when signed by Danny Williams in 1969 and endear himself to Town fans by scoring 41 goals in just over 100 appearances, a very impressive strike rate.  He didn’t score on that occasion however as goals from Bill Atkins and Don Rogers gave us a 2-0 victory and a second consecutive home win.

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd. Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee. Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell. Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James. Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

1963/64 Swindon Town squad with manager Bert Head
Back row: McPherson , Wollen, Atkins, Turner, Harvey, Morgan, Lloyd.
Third row: Plumb, Trollope, Hallett, French, Hicks, Smith, Smart, Dawson, Summerbee.
Second row: Thorburn, Shergold, Griffin, Rogers, Hellin, Stevens, Leggett, Huxford, Woodruff, Sproates, Peapell.
Front row: Lewis, Tabor, Harber, Darcy, Cousins (trainer), Head (manager), Morse (secretary), Colsell, Hunt, Ling, James.
Seated: Critchley, Hedges, Corbett, Wrintmore, Hedges

Our Easter opponents were to be Cardiff City, a team we never did well against and who included half the Wales international team, including the legendary Ivor Allchuch, and the Charles brothers, John and Mel. Frank Large continued his fine form, giving us a first half lead, but it wasn’t to be enough and as we went down to a 1-2 home defeat. Three days later on Easter Monday Cardiff completed the double with a 1-0 win at Ninian Park, courtesy of a goal from Mel Charles.

This was the era of three games in four days over Easter and sandwiched between the Cardiff games was a 1-2 home defeat to Leyton Orient which made it a pointless, and miserable ‘holiday’ period for us. We had however won two home games during the month and stopped the rot. Additionally we’d gained a new striker who could put himself about and score goals. It certainly was an improvement on the dire February that had gone before. We were down to 11th place in the League but we already had enough points not to have to worry about relegation. With four games of the season remaining we could relax, secure in the knowledge that another season in the ‘big time’ was guaranteed.

1963-64 March Table

Images courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk

Table from statto.com

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