Town Derails the Orient Express
Following his son’s efforts yesterday, Brendan Hobbs reflects on Town’s 10-men reserves coming from behind to secure a draw against Leyton Orient…
The curtain on the regular season has fallen and Swindon’s pre-February champion racehorse has finally collapsed over the finishing line. What was once a metronomic, race-winning thoroughbred has been left a wheezing, breathless corpse. You can imagine an equine doctor standing over our twitching mess, pushing shells into the shotgun broken over his arm.
Bit melodramatic I suppose, but as the final whistle blew on both Town’s and Leyton Orient’s regular season, you cannot help but wonder that if we’d kept up our furious pace, we’d have been celebrating more than a hard-earned draw today.
Yes, had we not had that massive wobble in February, who knows what would’ve been happening now. I doubt I’d be sat here drinking wine and watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I’d have stopped off at the pub and probably not made it home, dribbling my ‘goodnights’ to the kids over the mobile.
Instead I witnessed a battling draw, played out by a team consisting of reserves, first year scholars and one joke player included surely for novelty value.
When I heard the team on the way to the ground I was so angry and I want to apologise to all those who sit near me for the gargantuan rant I unleashed on arrival.
I had no issue with the fringe players turning up and I was heartened to see 17 year olds Will Randall and Josh Cooke in the staring eleven, but it was the inclusion of Harry Agombar that angered me the most. This is a player allegedly only on our books due to some previous boardroom nepotism, a player deemed not even good enough for Hereford.
I would’ve been much happier if Lee Marshall had started; my anger over Cooper’s questionable rotation policy wouldn’t have been so intense. I still would’ve harboured some annoyance though, playing a weakened team against Preston was one thing, it was away from home and I couldn’t care less about MK Dons – an abhorrent organisation that deserved the pain we caused them.
But this game was at home, people had paid £27 to attend and League One survival for some teams depended on the result. Generally, as a football club, I get the impression we’re hated by pretty much everyone, but surely this would push our pariah status through the roof had a team gone down due to our rotation policy?
Rumours quickly circulated around the County Ground concerning possible contractual promises as a reason for Agombar’s inclusion, if this was the case, then crikey bobs, what a shambles – we were genuinely in the hands of cowboys before Power.
Before kick-off I studied the respective line-ups, marvelling at the high squad numbers on show in the red half, even if Orient fans were ignorant of the second string nature of our team, then surely the fact our shirt numbers penetrated the 30 barrier more than once was a major indicator.
The Leyton Orient team looked excellent on paper, some great players there, and this was an outfit that handed us our arses on two previous visits. Defeating us with swagger, poise, precision and ease.
It perhaps points to failings elsewhere as to why a team filled with experienced, good quality players have tripped up this year, but as a Town fan it seemed all too familiar. It took an Orient fan that I follow on Twitter (@Daniel_slaw) to point out why.
Yes, that’s why we all know the feeling, beaten play-off finalists one year, relegated the next. Spare a thought then for Scott Cuthbert, who appeared in that Swindon side and has now mirrored that same duel heartache with the O’s.
It’s a shame to see Leyton Orient go, as I mentioned before, such classy visitors to the CG on their previous two outings, gliding in like well-bred royalty to our crude, beer-fuelled lads night in.
It seems like all their methodical, prudent and patient building over the years, has been chucked away in the blink of a season. It should serve as a warning to all the doom and gloom merchants that seem to be thriving in and around the CG (even though we’ve finished in our highest position for fifteen years ) it could be worse, much worse. Just ask Tranmere.