A perspective of the match from an away supporter’s point of view.
Swindon Town FC very nearly folded last season (as was well publicised at the time) and we Town supporters feared the worst. We owed several million pounds to the Inland Revenue plus we also owed several million pounds to other creditors and the time limit to pay off these debts was fast approaching.
So we started this season with very high hopes and the expectation of maybe reaching the play offs, but unfortunately I believe the current owners made one very big mistake in appointing Maurice Malpass as the manager in place of Paul Sturrock who decided to go back to his “spiritual home” of Plymouth Argyle. Because millions were spent on clearing our debts with the Inland Revenue and other creditors there was no a lot of money available to spend on players that we had all hoped for (although we did buy striker Simon Cox from Reading for 250k)…this and poor team management we believe has led to a disappointing start to the season! We were embarrassingly and deservedly dumped out of the FA cup by non league Histon, and Brighton have eliminated us from the Paint trophy cup. Also our league form has been very poor as well, with 4 home league defeats in a row before we eventually won two home games in succession against Northampton and Oldham. Our away form has been better with a win at MK Dons and draws at Hereford, Stockport, Hartlepool, Scunthorpe and Bristol Rovers.
Thankfully to the relief of most Swindon fans Maurice Malpass has now departed for pastures new, so there is now a new air of optimism at the club. The club are currently in the process of interviewing for a new manager with several names being mentioned as favourites for the post. We were informed by the board that over 50 people have applied for the job including Ian Holloway, John Ward, Iain Dowie, Aidy Boothroyd, Gus Poyet, Steve Cottrill and our current assistant manager who is temporarily in charge of the team Dave Byrne. On the Swindon website there is a poll of who the fans would prefer, currently Gus Poyet is favourite with Ian Holloway 2nd and Aidy Boothroyd 3rd favourite amongst us fans…I must say I also agree with these findings!
I have been lucky enough to attend many matches between our two clubs dating back as far as the late 60′s, but without doubt the most memorable was on the final day of the season a couple of years ago! We needed a win to confirm promotion, you were already promoted but needed a win to clinch the championship…believe me lads I didn’t sleep much that week! It was a tense match in front of our biggest crowd of the season (15,000) and Stratton Bank and the end of the Arkells stand was packed with Walsall supporters, it was a carnival atmosphere with I am pleased to say no trouble either on or off the pitch. Our centre half Jerel Ifil scored from a corner to give us a 1-0 lead, I thought we were very comfortable right until the last minute of the game when one of your players (cant remember his name now) scored a wonder goal to send you all into hysteria!! My God the last few minutes were the longest of my life but fortunately we held on for the draw and because MK Dons lost at Accrington (I think) we were promoted with you. The scenes after that game will live with me forever…both sets of supporters were hugging each other on the pitch and both teams were receiving rapturous applause from both sets of supporters…and on my way out to the car park lots of Walsall supporters came up to me (I was wearing my Town shirt) and were hugging me and shaking my hand…it was a very special day for both clubs!
So now to Saturdays match at your place. I always enjoy my visits to the Bescot and previously to Fellows Park, mainly because I find the Walsall fans so friendly. I have been very lucky to have made some friends amongst you (you know who you are) and I have already made arrangements to meet some of you in the Saddlers club between 1pm and 1:30pm before the match. No doubt there will be quite a bit of ‘Banter’ between us but it is all very much tongue in cheek and very friendly!
As for the match itself? I think we will bring a decent away support with us, I estimate about 1,000? Well as I indicated above we have a decent away record this season and have been very unlucky to draw some of those matches e.g. we were 3-0 up at Hartlepool and leading Bristol Rovers 2-1 when they equalised with the last kick of the match…but having said that I am a great believer in things evening out over the course of the season. Because Malpass has now gone the whole mood of the club has lifted tremendously and I think this is now being reflected in the teams performances, and with who I think (probably slightly biased) is the best striker in this division Simon Cox back after being suspended for the match at Rovers a draw is the least I am realistically looking at. I think Cox has scored 15 goals already this season so you will have to keep a very close eye on him, another player who may cause you big problems is our little left winger Anthony McNamee, he is so clever on the ball and has got a great left foot and if he is on form he will destroy most defences in this division. It was because of McNamee that we released Zaboob to you, who I believe has not lived up to expectations at Walsall? We also have a young 17 year old centre half called Morrison who is playing well for such a young lad and if we get a throw he can launch them well into the penalty box, so watch out for that because his throws are like free kicks to us. We also have striker Barry Corr back from injury after missing nearly all last season and most of this; he has scored 2 goals for us in last 2 games so he will be a threat if he plays. He reminds me of Peter Crouch because he is so tall and gangly but don’t let that fool you as he is a really good ball player and is very good in the air. Our goalkeepers have both been very dodgy this season so if you put them under pressures either at corners or long shots you may get lucky!
My prediction for Saturday’s game is 2-2.
Thanks to Andy (Zidane) for giving me the opportunity of writing this article and I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the Saddlers club before the match…oh and I hope it is a good game and that the best team wins.