50 Years Ago: 1965/66 October ‘All we are saying, is give us a goal’
Mike Minihane continues his look back 50 years to events at the County Ground, as Swindon Town returned to Division Three in 1965/66…
Top of the Charts: Tears – Ken Dodd
September 1965 had been a very busy month with seven games played and October was going to be just as busy with another seven scheduled.
With nine games of the season completed Town’s form was fair, with three games won, four drawn and two lost. Away form had improved dramatically from the previous season when it had been awful. In contrast, home form was disappointing with three consecutive goalless draws. Town were however in a lower league than the previous season!
The month started with a visit to Watford who were in fifth place and going quite well. Watford had Cliff Holton at centre forward. Although the ex-Arsenal star, who had been a prolific goal scorer in an illustrious career in the 1950s, was in the veteran stage of his career he still knew where the goal was and proved it by banging in two to give the Hornets a 2-0 win.
It was important that we bounced back from this disappointment with a win on the following Tuesday when we were scheduled for a home derby with Bristol Rovers – who we had beaten on their own ground the previous month.
Over 18,000 fans saw an exciting and entertaining first half with Rovers taking an early 2-0 lead through their star player Bobby Jones (who was later to sign for Town in 1967 but played only eleven games) and veteran Harold Jarman. Town quickly replied through Eric Weaver and Roger Smart for a 2-2 half time score. The second half continued in the same vein with another Rovers goal from Jones but two goals in three minutes from Dennis Brown and another from Smart saw Town complete the double over the Gas with a fine 4-3 win. At last some goals to celebrate on our own ground.
Gillingham were the visitors the following Saturday, they were a boring side with a deserved reputation for dour defensive football. The contrast with the previous Tuesday night could not have been greater as the Gills came for a point and went away with both in a dire 0-1 home defeat. Over the years Gillingham never seemed to change and we never did well against them.
Another grim fixture was to follow the following Saturday when we were off to Cold Blow Lane for a meeting with Millwall at the Den. Whilst it was nothing like as evil a place as it was to become in the 1970s it was certainly no picnic. Millwall didn’t concede many, thanks in no small part to their young up and coming ‘keeper Alex Stepney who was destined for future stardom with Manchester United for whom he played 433 games. This occasion was no different as a solitary goal was enough to give them a 1-0 victory. Town had now fallen to 12th place in the league having been third at the start of the month and had lost three away games in a row.
The chance to make amends was not long in coming however thanks to a midweek game home to York City who we had beaten 2-0 back in August. Following that game, Town had signed York’s centre forward Jimmy Lawton for a significant fee of £15,000. Jimmy was yet to score in four appearances, but what better time to start than against his former team mates.
Perhaps predictably Jimmy had a fine game and put us 2-0 up shortly after half time to add to Dennis Brown’s first half opener. A John Trollope penalty made it 3-0 and then Don Rogers gave the score line with three minute hat trick in the last ten minutes of the game. The 6-0 win went a long way to put the Millwall defeat out of our minds. Then four days later there was more to celebrate with an emphatic 3-0 thumping of Peterborough United with another goal from Don together with others from Dennis Brown and Roger Smart. Nine goals in four days certainly did a lot for the goal average and even more for our spirits.
The month concluded with a visit to Exeter City and although the home team took a first half lead a late equaliser from Jimmy Lawton gave us a deserved 1-1 draw. The month had ended well with two emphatic home wins and an away point. After going for 270 minutes without a goal in our first three home games we had scored thirteen in our next four.
We were watching entertaining football at home with lots of goals, mostly for us! Surely it couldn’t get any better. But in November it would, thanks in no small part to the arrival of a certain Keith East on the scene.