Rough guide to
About this rough guide
How our predictions went
Rough guide to...Swindon Town
3 June 2003
Relationship with Division Two
The last three seasons have seen the Robins loitering about in the second division. But it was only ten years ago that they reached the dizzy heights of the then newly formed Premier League under Glenn Hoddle. Since then they've plummeted to a mid-table Division Two existence, with a four-year spell in the first division in between. A poor start in 2002-03 meant they were always chasing the play-off spots, but had to content themselves with 10th in the end - a slight improvement on the previous seasons' achievements.
A glorious few years at the beginning of the 90s brought them a play-off victory in '92-93, followed by a season in the Premier League. They also stormed the second division in the '95-96 season, taking the championship on their way up. We'll not mention the first division play-off victory in '89-90, which saw them briefly in the top flight before the authorities demoted them because of illegal payments to players or something. It's alright when Spurs do it though, eh? Pah!
Other than this, Swindon have generally hung around the lower rungs of the football league, with a couple of promotions in the 60s and a fourth division championship in the mid-80s thrown in for good measure. They only forced their way into the Football League in the 1920s and spent a glorious 40-odd years in the various incarnations of the third division.
The cups are a different story though. Despite getting relegated from Division One in '94-95, they still put a good run together in the League Cup, which saw them narrowly miss out on a trip to the final after a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Bolton. And back in 1968-69, they went one better as surprise 3-1 victors over Arsenal in the final, despite being in the third division at the time. The following season they won the oddly-thought-up Anglo-Italian Cup Winners' Cup. This was invented as they weren't allowed to play in the then Fairs (later UEFA) Cup because they weren't in the first division. They also won the Anglo-Italian cup in the same season. Not bad eh?
Nothing to really get the blood boiling here. Oxford are the main rivals, of course - but as they've only been around since the 60s, there's no deep-rooted, proper hatred there. Cheltenham's brief stint in the second gave a little hope for a new rivalry, and there's always a bit of la-di-da handbag waving at either of the Bristol sides. Reading are also considered rivals, but only when Swindon are feeling desperate for a bit of rivalry.
The man to watch, if they manage to hang on to him, is 22-year-old Sam Parkin. Signed from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee (believed to be £50k) in 2002, Parkin endeared himself to the locals by scoring a hat-trick on his debut and going on to net 26 goals last season. A £150k bid from Coventry was laughed out of Wiltshire, but it's only a matter of time before the big clubs come sniffing again.
Other players to look out for are central defender Matthew Heywood and captain Andy Gurney. Both had a public falling-out with fans and other players early on in the season, but after an apology have been rocks of consistency. Gurney has also developed a knack of scoring from free kicks, allowing him to notch up nine goals last season. Are you reading, Gallimore?
Midfield players to look out for include the exotically named Stefani Miglioranzi, who joined on a free from Portsmouth, and the indestructible Danny Invincibile. Miglioranzi is carrying a long-term injury, though, and is still only on a monthly contract, whereas Invincibile has been eyeing up a move to the higher climes of the football league and so may be gone by the start of the new season. One player coming though the ranks who may make an impact next season is the aptly named striker Alan Young. So far, though, Young has been limited to just a few appearances from the bench - and it's not hard to see why when you have the quality of Parkin up front. This season could be make or break for him.
It's safe to say that any player signed by Andy King has a bit of quality about them. King is highly respected by Robins fans and seems to have a keen eye for a quality player at a bargain price.
Andy King is in his second spell as manager at Swindon, and fans seem happy with that. He's made some excellent signings and started to put together a decent squad. Swindon don't have much money, and have recently been under a transfer embargo - but King knows how to get a good player for next to nothing, so perhaps money isn't an issue. A few squad players have been released; Invincibile and French striker Eric Sabin look like they may get snapped up; and Parkin may yet be tempted away. However, if Parkin does leave, you can be sure it will be for big money. It's envisaged that King will strengthen his squad and no doubt find a couple more bargains. No big changes at Swindon though. With an average gate of 5,400, this Town are a similar-sized club to our Town and your average division two side, really.
Famous Swindon fans include Willie Carson (jockey and club chairman), John Francombe (jockey), Jenny Pitman (horse trainer) and Julian Wilson (racing journalist). Is there a lot of horse racing round Swindon way then? Oh, and biological author Sir Desmond Morris, who grew up in the area, is also a fan.
Other trivia? I suppose I should mention again that Swindon won promotion to the top flight for this first time in their history in 1990. However, ten days after their play-off victory the powers that be decided to relegate them by two divisions after financial irregularities at the club. This was reduced to one division on appeal. How nice of them.
How will they do?
The Robins have been improving over the last two seasons. If they hold on to Parkin and plug one or two holes in their team, you'd have to say they have an outside chance at the play-offs. I'll say eighth, just scraping into the new play-off structure.
The official site is your standard fare, full of the usual stuff. And the Rivals one doesn't have much on it other than a fairly busy messageboard. Swindon-town-fc.co.uk is a useful site for up-to-date stats and historic information in a sensibly laid-out style. [I can't get it working though - Ed.] SwindonTFC offers arguably "the most intelligent Swindon Town debate on the net". That's arguably in the same way that Gallimore has arguably the best left foot in the football league. None of that nonsense from STFC Fanny Forum though. Oh no. Which if anything, is blatantly obvious about what it offers. A forum to talk about things that may include Swindon Town FC from time to time. Fair enough.
For something a bit different, though, Swindonlog offers a blogger's guide to the Robins and it's quite a fun read. It looks nice too - and that's quite important I reckon. Finally, the supporters trust also offers a well-put-together site.