50 Years On: 1963/64 April – Swindon in the big time for the first time
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 completes his review with April 1964…
Top of the Charts – Can’t Buy Me Love – The Beatles
As the season petered out our relegation form continued. Gone were the heady days of September when we’d taken all before us, now we were struggling for points. From August until the end of October we’d played fifteen league games, winning ten, drawing three and losing just two, accumulating 23 points. Between November and the end of the season we played twenty seven games, winning only four, drawing seven and losing sixteen, gaining a paltry 15 points. But for our whirlwind start to the season we’d have been nailed-on relegation certainties. Thanks to our early season successes however we were assured of mid-table safety.
April’s fixtures brought home games against Huddersfield Town and Swansea Town (still a lowly Town and not a City in those days) and visits to Derby County and Southampton. It started badly with a 1-2 home defeat to Huddersfield, despite taking an early lead through Bill Atkins. The trip to Derby was worse with us on the wrong end of a 0-3 score line. The gloom was lifted somewhat with a narrow 2-1 win over Swansea Town thanks to goals from Bill Atkins and Don Rogers.
For the last game of the season we were at Southampton. The emerging talent of Martin Chivers was again evident, as it had been in the home fixture when he’d scored the winner. This time he went two better with a hat trick. Needless to say Terry Paine also got one in a 5-1 demolition of the Town, with Ernie Hunt getting our consolation goal and ending up as our top scorer in the League with 12 goals.
The season ended with Leeds United and Sunderland gaining promotion to the First Division; we finished 14th. Looking back it’s clear that the writing was on the wall for the following season when we were relegated. In the second two thirds of the season our record had been indisputably poor and we were never able to recapture any semblance of our early season form. For those of us fortunate enough to witness the early part of the season it still stands out as a totally exhilarating time which brought a new level of experience to Town fans. We watched our team with something amounting to a combination of glee and disbelief.
There have been many stand-out periods in Town’s history over the last 50 years and the early part of the 1963/64 season will always live in the memory of those who were there and saw a team of young, talented players put the Town well and truly on the footballing map.
Images courtesy of swindon-town-fc.co.uk
Table from statto.com