50 Years Ago: 1964/65 January – A Glimmer of Hope
Mike Minihane continues his look back 50 years to events at the County Ground. Following Swindon Town’s first season in the ‘big time’ Division Two during 1963/64, Town looked to consolidate. However football isn’t that simple…
Top of the Charts: Yeh Yeh; Georgie Fame
After such a dismal end to 1964 we were all hoping for better things in the New Year. The visit of Charlton Athletic, only a couple of points better off than Swindon Town, was a cause for optimism. Perhaps we could start the year on a winning note and turn things around…
Charlton included Mike Bailey who would go on to an illustrious career with Wolves, winning a couple of England caps along the way. A close game seemed to be heading for a goalless draw until a late goal from Mike Summerbee gave us the lead and five minutes later a second from Don Rogers made sure of the points and gave us a very welcome 2-0 win and two precious points that moved us a couple of places up the league, a good start to the 1965.
The following Saturday saw us in entering the FA Cup straight into the third round for only the second time in our history. We were drawn home to mid-table Ipswich Town and the chances of progressing to the fourth round and a possible lucrative tie seemed realistic.
When Ipswich ran out I was struck by the elderly appearance of one of their players, a little grey haired guy called Jimmy Leadbetter who looked about 60. My mate and I thought this was hilarious and immediately christened him ‘Pensioner’, giving him quite a lot of stick in the process. Of course Jimmy made us eat our words by setting up a couple of goals for Frank Brogan to give Ipswich a 2-0 lead and a late consolation goal from Dennis Brown was all we could manage in return. A 1-2 defeat and the prospects of a cup run gone. Not to worry, now we could concentrate on the league and ensure our status as a Second Division club, which of course was what really mattered.
So it was back to the league and the daunting prospect of a tough away game to Manchester City at Maine Road. No one expected us to get anything from that. It’s well known that if you wait an eternity for a bus eventually two come along together and so it proved. Having secured our first away win at Leyton Orient in our previous away fixture after a fourteen month wait incredibly we beat City 2-1 on their own ground, with Dennis Brown and Mike Summerbee the scorers. Summerbee had a great game and it was little surprise when City signed him at the end of the season and, of course, he went on to become one of their all-time great players.
Portsmouth, our visitors the following Saturday were in an even worse position than we were, being rock bottom of the league, five positions below us. It was a game we really needed to win to put some daylight between us and the relegation places. In a dire stalemate they got the point they came for with a goalless draw. An opportunity had gone begging and the point dropped would come back to haunt us at the end of the season.
The final fixture of the month was at promotion-chasing Norwich City who were in third place in the league, hard on the heels of Newcastle United and Northampton Town. We didn’t expect to get anything there and so it proved, although with two of their goals coming in the last ten minutes the game was closer than the 3-1 score suggested.
January had been our best month since October, with two wins, one draw and only one defeat in the league. We were up to seventeenth in the league and there was the start of a belief that perhaps we might just pull it together and stay up for another season. But could we maintain it?