50 Years Ago: 1965/66 January – That’s entertainment
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: Day Tripper/We can work it out – The Beatles
Unlike December, January promised to be a busy month with four league games and a third round home FA Cup Tie against Coventry City, managed of course by the late, irrepressible, Jimmy Hill. Things started badly with a dismal 0-1 loss at Gillingham, totally undeserved as I can personally testify. Gillingham was an awful place, with an awful ground and awful fans. I never really got over it and they immediately became the team I disliked above all others. Fifty years on things haven’t changed.
Things bucked up the following Saturday with the visit of second placed Hull City. Hull were a good side with some very decent players in Ken Wagsaffe, Chris Chilton, Ken Houghton and Ian Butler. In an entertaining game Keith East, Roger Smart and the diminutive Tommy Henderson scored in a very entertaining 3-1 win. Tommy’s goal was a particularly spectacular volley from outside the area. He was a typical Scottish winger, aggressive, about 5 feet tall and very tricky. He only played eleven games before moving on the Stockport County, one of the many clubs in his roaming career.
A tough away game was to follow at Peterborough United. Town recovered from conceding an early goal to come back for a splendid 3-2 away win, thanks to two more goals from Keith East taking him to 13 in 8 games and a late winner from Dennis Brown.
The following Saturday saw the arrival in town of the Jimmy Hill circus.
A crowd of over 20,000 saw an entertaining game on a slushy surface. Coventry took the lead in a somewhat fortunate way when John Trollope deflected in a cross for an unlucky own goal and despite considerable Town pressure held the lead until half time. Mid-way through the second half Town scored a deserved equaliser when Dennis Brown hammered a glorious shot into the top corner at the Town End to send the crowd into raptures.
Town looked the more likely side to win the game but in the last few minutes Ronnie Rees scored against the run of play to give the Sky Blues, and Jimmy, a rather flattering win.
The chance to get over the disappointment came a week later and where could have been better than at arch rivals Oxford United. A crowd of over 16,000 saw Tommy Henderson get his second goal in three games after only ten minutes and Town never looked back with a second on the stroke of half time from Dennis Brown and a third from a rocket-like Mel Nurse free kick. Oxford were totally outclassed as Town’s 3-0 emphatic put them in their place.
It had been a good month, with an impressive win over promotion candidates Hull and two excellent away wins. Town were up to fourth in the league behind Millwall, Hull and QPR.
Much could be attributed to Keith East’s rich vein of scoring form but there was also a new defensive solidity under Mel Nurse’s leadership and some good performances across the team, particularly from Dennis Brown, Don Rogers and the tireless Roger Smart. With just over half the season gone we were well placed. Could we turn this into a promotion season?