Monday, 7 May 2018

Charm Offensive

Swindon Town  3  Accrington Stanley  0

English Football League – League Two

“You smell nice, have you got a boyfriend?”

Welcome to Swindon, the home of some of the finest chat up lines known to man (and woman), the 
latest destination on my personal crusade to complete the 92.

I was minding my own business having a quiet pint in the beer garden of the County Ground Hotel, when up wandered a couple of lads, clearly benefiting from a combination of alcohol and marching powder. They asked if they could join me, to which I was more than happy of the company!

Their first observation was that I wasn’t from Swindon, so clearly I was from Accrington, but when I explained that I was actually from Derby, it rang alarm bells. Why?

I began to explain my quest of the 92, but one of them wasn’t having it, not one bit. I was a scout, a spy, something far more sinister even. I was doing his swede big style. So the questions started….

“Have you ever been to Carlisle?”

“What’s Northampton’s ground called?”

“Why are you not watching Derby today?”

“Who was Derby’s best signing in 2001?”

And finally

“If you we’re manager of Swindon Town, what would you do?”

One of the lads was very much on my side as I answered one banal question after another, the other chap, between resting his muddled head on the table, was struggling with the whole concept of my existence. I could have really thrown a spanner in the works by talking about non-league football, but I sensed the invitation I had got minutes earlier to spend the entire game with them in the Town End would have been withdrawn, and I didn’t want that….

Shrivenham Road Stand
I decided to fight fire with fire with the suspicious one, who at one point I suspected was looking for a rumble.

“Did you ever watch Swindon when they were Premier League?”

“What did you think of Glenn Hoddle when he was your Player Manager?”

And finally, the clincher…

“How many times have you watched Swindon play?”

Her paused for a second as the chemicals reacted, and gave me his reply.

“At least three times, possibly four, I’m not sure, I support Man United to be honest.”

The muddled one needed more liquid, so off he went, leaving me with the younger and more aware one. We chatted about both of our jobs when over wandered two women, both wearing boardroom passes round their necks.

“Do you mind if we join you?”

Now, two thoughts went through my mind, the first being…

“You really don’t know what you are about to let yourself in for”

And secondly…

“Thank you, this might be my get out of jail card!”

Back came the muddled one, and his attention immediately diverted to the younger and more attractive one, who was sat next to myself. It was at that point he uttered Swindon’s finest chat up line.

She replied, it appeared her boyfriend was indeed a member of the Accrington coaching staff, but that didn’t matter to our friend.

“So, what you are saying is that right now, your boyfriend isn’t here?”

The younger one, seeing what route this was clearly taking, decided to jump in.

“She’s got a boyfriend mate, he’s in the ground, just leave it.”

At this point I turned to the woman and explained I was nothing to do with the other two fellas, who by now were arguing. She laughed and told me exactly who her boyfriend was, and it wouldn’t be fair to name names, but suffice to say, if he had a one on one with Mr Muddle, there would only be one winner!

Main Stand
But, the lad’s attentions had been diverted, I could make my escape, which I did, to the bar, and I never went back, although as I walked back towards the ground, the ladies were still being serenaded and I had clearly been forgotten.

I’m not sure why it’s taken this long to get to Swindon Town, it’s only a couple of hours from home, but for some reason it’s just been one of those venues that I’ve never got round to.

The journey was uneventful, until of course I arrived at the famous Magic Roundabout which sits next to Swindon’s County Ground. I knew where I wanted to go, so came up with a plan that was more kamikaze than cunning! Just go, basically, in the general direction, like a German would, and it worked, three mini-roundabouts crossed without so much as an indication or a brake light.

Once in the ground on a baking hot day, I liked what I saw. Two similar two-tier seated stands on either side of the pitch, with the impressive travelling away fans in the bottom corner of what is effectively the main stand. I was behind the goal in the shallow seated Town End with the vocal element, while the open seated end opposite was closed off. They also had proper floodlight pylons, and I’m not sure how many of the 92 have them nowadays, but they are certainly becoming rarer.

Stanley had already won the Championship, Swindon had missed out on the Play-Offs, so it was a dead rubber. After Stanley created the better chances in the early stages, it was Swindon who took the lead through Marc Richards in the 14th minutes.

It was 2-0 prior to the break, when the impressive Keshi Anderson scored in the 43rd minute, but even that wasn’t enough to quieten the dissenting home support who poured vitriol on the home players and Manager Phil Brown for a season they considered to be a failure.

I mean, to run out at your home ground to be greeted by your hardcore support chanting “We’re f***ing shit!” at full volume can’t be either helpful or inspiring, can it?

The second half was not especially remarkable and it didn’t come as a huge shock when Paul Mullin got a third goal. Stanley were clearly thinking about the party they had planned, and fair play to them, it’s a remarkable story and John Coleman has done an incredible job to get them promoted. I was especially pleased for goalkeeper Aaron Chapman who I saw playing for Belper Town just prior to him going pro at Chesterfield, a great lad who’s dream has come true.

We then had a double sending off for a bout of handbags and shoving. Jimmy Dunne with a straight red for the visitors and then James Dunne with a second yellow for Swindon. Quiz question, how many times have two players with the same names been sent off in the same game, at the same time? I think I may have seen history!

At the final whistle I bolted for the car and was out of Dodge in double quick time. It had been a very enjoyable day, albeit a little bit bizarre.

I hope the two ladies found their way back to the boardroom safely, as for my two newly found friends, I daren't think what Saturday night was going to look like, assuming of course they actually managed to see it!

The Eclectic Town End

No comments:

Post a Comment