Swindon Town take on Sunderland this weekend and former BBC Wiltshire man Victor Morgan very kindly previewed the clash from a Robins point of view as well as taking a look back at some of the history between our two clubs.
I was thinking about what to write in this preview from a Swindon point of view and how this is, without doubt, one of THE games we were looking forward to when we got promoted back to League One. Circumstances that we all know about means the match will take place at an eerily quiet County Ground instead of a packed stadium full of noise. As fans these are the games we relish. Given the history between the two clubs, Swindon supporters were relishing this fixture and the visit by the huge Wearside contingent. Sadly, it’s an afternoon in front of the iFollow via laptop, tablet, phone or telly.
The game also comes thirty years after that famous, or infamous, play off final at Wembley. That was a glorious afternoon for Swindon fans, followed ten days later by a villainous day at Villa Park when our dreams of playing in the old First Division were snatched away by the Football League as a punishment for making irregular payments to players. Instead of visiting the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool etc, we were demoted to Division Three and eventually reinstated to Division Two on appeal.
That Wembley afternoon ranks as one of the most one sided one nil wins in history. It’s not just Town fans who think that, I’ve spoken to many Black Cat supporters over the years who think the same. I was commentating on that game for Wiltshire’s local BBC station and recall Alan McLoughlin’s deflected shot finding the back of the Sunderland net and giving Ossie Ardiles’ team the win.
As we know, subsequent events led to Roker Park being the venue for top flight football and not the aforementioned County Ground. We had to wait another three years for that, after Glenn Hoddle had taken over from Ardiles who’d moved onto somewhere called Newcastle.
It was heartbreaking and still hurts Town fans of a certain age. I’ll never forget that moment at Villa Park where the FL hearing took place and the judgment was read out. It cuts deep!
On a lighter note, back in 1970 I was in the Town End when Swindon won 2-0 on a bright early season Saturday. It was a day when the great Sunderland player Bobby Kerr collapsed the goal when trying to stop a goal bound effort. It was the season when stanchions were removed from goalposts for some strange reason. One of Swindon’s goals was scored by Tony Gough, who captained Hereford in their famous FA Cup win over your nearest and dearest, Newcastle. I thought you’d like that!