Newsletter #243

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I hope this reaches everybody; I had a bit of a nightmare tonight when an incoming message repeatedly crashed my computer – thanks very much to the Post Office! Eventually, I managed to delete it from my mailbox with Paul’s help. I’ll be away ’til the weekend and Linda (my wife) will be doing MCIVTA 244 on Thursday, so anything addressed to me personally will have to wait until then.

This issue has all the usual articles, another good Why Blue, and news of the Wombles’ continuing attempts to buy Stevie Lomas. Coppell has stated that the squad is in need of strengthening, in fact in dire need of strengthening but, depending on whom you believe, this will be difficult because there is either no money or there aren’t any decent players available.

This one reaches 1124.

Next game, Oxford United at home, Wednesday 13th November 1996

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’

SWINDON TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 2nd November 1996

Well, no surprises here, especially that we should lose to two goals from Wayne Allison, a guy whose career at Bristol City, who sold him to Swindle (as they are known in these parts) I saw from start to end. I guess I should have foreseen this, and stayed away, so you can all blame me.

As for the game; well, it was good to be standing at a football match again; despite seats being provided, the away end has no roof (“I know a man who can build you a roof”). Coupled with a good wind and heavy drizzle blowing in from the west, this did not make sitting down a viable proposition.

The first half was pretty evenly matched; City only getting two shots in, from Summerbee and Dickov. More of the action was at the City end, however, with a somewhat dubious penalty being awarded when Wayne Allison hustled Kit Symons into appearing to bring him down. Highlights on HTV on Sunday confirmed my view at the time that it was 50/50. I’ve seen them given for less (at the opposition’s end at the Swamp, for example), and not given for more (at the Rags’ end at the Swamp, for example). Shortly after this Dibbs had a very nasty ball looping over onto the bar and down at his feet; he managed to scoop the ball away after a scramble on the goal line. Half time 0-0.

Come the second half, Steve McMahon had clearly got Swindon to up the pace; having hoped at half time that we would see more of the action after the change around, this was not the case. 15 minutes or so into the half, we were 1-0 down, Allison being allowed a second chance to shoot, and looped the ball over Dibbs’ head. Cue City to up the tempo, and show these country bumpkins a thing or two about playing football. Not. In the whole of this half, we had a further two shots, Buzza cutting in from the right and firing fairly tamely at Digby, and Gio toppling five defenders on the edge of the box like dominoes, to see his shot tipped over the bar – the only real save Digby had to make all game.

By now tackles were starting to fly in, aided by the very greasy conditions; Swindon scored their second with 6 or seven minutes to go, and this time we did look as though we were up for it; the end result was that the last five minutes were very bad-tempered; the Fonz was again giving his all for the cause, passing to the opposition or into touch (why did Coppell bring him on?), and Kave, who replaced Uwe with 15 minutes to go, never really getting into the game.

All in all, we didn’t really deserve even a point; we just about held our own in the first half, and were kicked out of our stride in the second. Steve Lomas was clearly missed – the midfield was absent most of the time, certainly when we were in possession; Gio lying deep, and very few balls getting to the feet of Dickov and Rösler – why are we hoofing the ball upto Dickov? Poor guy – I felt for him, he ran his socks off, got penalised every time he made contact with the opposition (or them with him), but never gave up. Uwe was hopeless I’m afraid, despite being replaced at the start – according to the Swindon PA – by Youwee Rösler (and Wassall by Darren Walsall) … Coppell’s been buying on the quiet. Gio shone occasionally, Dibbs saved us from losing four or five nil, and no-one else really would get more than 5 out of 10.

Conclusion. Good to be back amongst the faithful; the result was pretty much as I expected. It’s going to be a long, hard season. The squad is very thin on the ground in the talent stakes; the last away league game I saw was away to Oxford in the 89 promo season; I meant to pull the programme out this morning to bring to work, but from what I recall we had a much better squad – the likes of Lake, Redmond, White all in their prime. McNab to snap and snarl in midfield (oh how we need a young McNab or McMahon) – the Bish played, I think, to provide the flair from midfield – this was a side that looked as though it could survive being promoted. Now – well, if we were to be promoted we would go straight down again – hard to think that less than 2 years ago we had the likes of Coton, Curle, Phelan, Flitcroft, Quinn and Walsh … it is as if we had had Megabastards Inc take us over and downsize us in the best traditions of 90s big business. Yup the wage bill’s down, yup, we’ve got no team. Even run of the mill players like Andy Hill (who I always thought did a fair job) would shine in this team.

Well, patience is the watchword; at least we didn’t hear too much player bashing at the game; Buzza got what I expected, and a gent who had been at the Southend game and was clearly unamused by the two late goals that we let in (where’s he been the past 30 years?) decided to insult Dibble as we were warming up by calling out “Dibble … you {pause} … womaniser”! All we can do is get behind the team, get behind Coppell, and hope that the Rags keep on blowing things to provide that silver lining that all dark clouds are meant to have …

Talking of which … well, took a while to get round to this, but we might as well enjoy it whilst it lasts. Reported in the Guardian this morning, in the report of the Rags vs. Chelsea, was a lady who apparently rang up 606 last week to complain that she “had not bought a season ticket to Old Trafford to watch U****d lose”. Well, tough titty is all I have to say to that :-))). Also – why was Butt not sent off after that second tackle? And shall we have a sweepstake on which game La Grande Erique finally blows up – as surely he is about to – and assaults an opposition player – in two of the last 3 league games (poor things – they have lost 3 in a row, how it must hurt) reports have said that he has been lucky to stay on the field. As one Sunday noted, he is following his now well established pattern of a quiet season followed by trouble.

Proud to be Blue, and pretty damn blue at that.

P.S. – Bristol Blues – Henry, Leo et al – The Seahorse in Perry Row, just past the BRI shows, Sky Nationwide games, and sells the excellent Smiles beer. Next game, I suspect, Wolves away Sunday Dec 1 (1pm) – be there or be square eh?

P.P.S. The resident Swindon fan at work wants to know if there is any truth in the rumour that Wayne Allison Big Mal’s love child ? :-)))

Jeremy Poynton (jp@deadhead.geac.co.uk)

MATCH REPORT ‘LIVE’

SWINDON TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 2nd November 1996

I wonder if there’s been some trouble with fans at Swindon recently? It was hard work finding a pub that would let away fans in – even the one I was directed to last time as being the “away pub” had a big sign on the door – “Regulars Only”. Eventually found one that would let us in – The Princess, on Beatrice Street.

With no sign of the rain easing up, we headed back to the ground, knowing that we’d be behind the goal in the uncovered seats. The people who’d left buying their tickets until last week were OK – we got an extra allocation of covered seats! The weather brought about a couple of unusual pre-match chants – “We know a man who can build you a roof” (to the Swindon directors) and “You’re dry, and you’re not singing” (to the covered City fans). To be fair, one of the stewards told us that the club had wanted to extend the roof from the Intel Stand round to cover our seats but they were denied planning permission because of objections from 4 local residents.

There are quite a few City connections at Swindon these days, with Steve Finney and Mark Seagraves on the playing staff and Steve McMahon managing. Steve’s programme notes were quite complimentary about us: “City are a fantastic club and I mean it when I say that I can’t speak highly enough of them. It’s a shame they have been going through a lean spell of late because their supporters are second to none and they deserve a lot more. As you all know I spent an enjoyable spell at Maine Road and I have happy memories of my time there. Everyone at the club treated me brilliantly, from the staff to the supporters. The difference between Manchester United fans and the City supporters is that whereas United fans come from all over the country, City fans all come from Manchester and I would like to think that some day soon they will have something to cheer about up there.”

Anyway, on to the match. City lined up with a formation like this:

              Dibble
Wassall McGoldrick Symons
Summerbee Whitley Clough Rodger
Kinkladze
Dickov R

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