How to work Swindon Town into a Celtic blog…
Cue for a song…
It was fifty years ago today,Swindon taught Arsenal how to play!
Yes,that’s right. Fifty years ago,my now-local team from the Third Division had a day out at Wembley against lofty Arsenal. Yes,the same Arsenal who two years later would win The Double,with that wonderful extra-time goal from Charlie George.
Of course,they never won anything again,bar The Texaco Cup the following year,and that hardly counts as they were awarded it after serious crowd trouble. But it still ranks as one of the biggest shocks in English football,beside the Cardiff City FA Cup victory in 1927,Sunderland in 1973 and Southampton in 1976.
Swindon Town aren’t alone in not winning a trophy in 50 years,of course. Dunfermline,for instance,won the Scottish Cup in 1968,and since then,nada. Many clubs have won nothing of note whatsoever in their history,be it short or long. And Newcastle United,famously,are in the Half Century Club.
This is despite being one of the best-supported clubs,both historically and currently,in the country. They’ve had some wonderful,legendary,players over the years,like Waddell,Gascoigne,Malcolm MacDonald and of course Peter Beardsley,the nearest I’ve seen to another Dalglish in my time. I would have included Shearer too if he’d been more of a team player,but he wasn’t,so he can GTF.
Under Kevin Keegan,they became “Everybody’s Second Team”,the football they played was simply magnificent,and when he returned under new billionaire owner,Mike Ashley,it seemed that it wasn’t just The Strawberry pub that was just around the corner,so too were the glory days.
Alas,it was not to be,and after a raft of managers in his time,most of whom could only avoid flirting with relegation by actually achieving it,Ashley turned to someone who knew what he was doing. Someone with a managerial pedigree as a winner.
He chose Rafa Benitez,previously successful at all his clubs,with two La Liga,a UEFA Cup,an FA Cup,Europa Cup,World Club Championship,Italian Cup. Hell,he’d even won The Champions League. He’s probably won more than that,but it’s all I could remember. Managed at Valencia,Real Madrid,Chelsea,Inter Milan,Napoli and Liverpool. He’s probably managed at more than that too,but again,it’s enough to be going on with. You get the point.
Surely such a successful manager,backed by that incredible support and a multi-billionaire owner would bring back the glory days to Tyneside?
Naw is the short answer. Benitez and Ashley have been at loggerheads from almost Day One over transfer strategy-who decides to buy and how much is available. It’s only now that Ashley,clearly worried about losing his manager,has loosened the pursestrings with a large signing,breaking the club and MLS records with Miguel Almiron for £21m. Ashley is promising more to come-IF Benitez signed a new contract. Three years into the job,I think he’s had enough. He will leave in the summer. And I hope Dermot Desmond has his phone number.
Onto other things nearer home,where the relegation and promotion places in Scottish League Division Two could end up being decided inside the offices of the SFA rather than on the field. Clyde were found to have played an unregistered player-he had not been re-registered after returning from a loan-and have been docked the points they won in those matches. The three points have,accordingly,been awarded to their opponents.
Now,although this still leaves Clyde nine points clear of Elgin City in the play-offs,stranger things have happened in promotion races. It is at the other end of the table where the decision could have most effect. Remember,the bottom club in this division drops out of the Scottish League altogether,and that has to be avoided at all costs. One of the recipients of this good fortune is Albion Rovers. Currently trailing Berwick Rangers by two points,the three points awarded will put them a point clear. This raises a number of questions,and I think there might be cause for a court case here. For starters,which league will the bottom club play in? Albion Rovers is the simple one-The Lowland League. (East Kilbride are currently running away with this,btw,which will please oul’ Jobo.) But is there anything in the rules of that league to allow an English club to play in it?
A can of worms,but the same thing happened to Dundee United in their relegation season,and other wee diddy teams have been thrown out of cup competitions or lost points for similar registration offences,or a name not being signed the regulatory twice,or forgetting to cross a t. Even Hearts suffered a points deduction in the League Cup sections earlier this season,though for some strange reason,only two points were deducted,which allowed them to qualify from the group.
And that’s the point. Punishment must be consistent and proportionate. The SFA are clearly inconsistent in their decisions,and they most definitely aren’t proportionate. Neither,btw,are UEFA and FIFA,all of whom show a distinct tendency to leniency for The Big Boys while thrashing the living daylights out of the punchbags with little clout behind them. And it throws yet another spanner into the works of the LNS judgement,and the perjured submissions especially of Sandy Bryson. The revelation of The Doncaster Letter on JOHNJAMESSITE the other day has done NOTHING to galvanise a demand for further investigation and/or explanation from either the clubs or the media.
This is PRECISELY why so many of us are convinced that The Five Way Agreement had a sixth member. And that was a complicit Scottish Football. EVERYONE knew,everyone was consulted. They can act surprised all they like,but they have been in on it from the start. And it’s also why you can forget about anything coming from Resolution 12.
Swindon Town will win The League Cup again before that happens.
I do enjoy a rant of a morning,it’s a pleasant wee wind-down after nightshift. Of course,I’d much rather not be writing any of the above,bar the bit about Swindon Town. What I DON’T enjoy is listening to the news overnight. I have no idea yet how many people have been killed or injured as they worshipped God in,ironically,Christchurch. The latest death toll is forty. I know all of our thoughts and,where applicable,our prayers are 12,000 miles away with all of those affected by this latest atrocity.