Swindon Town Away: Or the power of soup in a flask

Swindon Town Away

Tuesday 20th September 2016

The Journey

The day was a rare one where I could get some County Cricket in to a match day. Gloucestershire were playing Sussex and, as only they appear to do at this time of the year, playing as if the season had finished last week. They had recovered a bit (from 68 for 6 to 143 for 7) when I left at the tea interval. Of course once I did leave they rallied and the final session saw a hundred run partnership. It was an odd that feeling as I left several Gasheads behind at the game.

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143 for flipping 7

They stayed becaise they were part of the boycott of this particular match. You may not know the details so I will explain the events leading to this action. A few weeks ago we played the Swindon away game. In fact we saw 61 minutes of the game before a thunderstorm forced an abandonment. Unlike the events of Wycombe a few years earlier, no one was particularly surprised by the abandonment. The pitch flooded as we watched the rain come down. No doubt it would be dry by the time we got home nut the pitch was unplayable when we trudged back to the car. We had the following message ringing in our ears. They said clearly ”HOLD ON TO YOUR TIOCKETS AS THEY WILL BE NEEDED FOR ANY CLAIMS FOR A NEW TICKET OR REFUNDS.” We had seen 60 minutes of play for our £25 ticket. The poor unfortunates on the uncovered terrace paid £19 to be drenched in an open air power shower.

New tickets became available but only for £25 in the stand. No reduction, no compensation, no chance of a refund for the missing 30 minutes of football. The chairman of Swindon nailed his colours to the money grabbing flag of arrogance and expected all away fans, and more bewilderingly, all non-season ticket holding Swindon fans to pay full price. I sort of expected having to pay say £15 or so for the rematch or have an option to watch for a reduced amount on the open seated terrace only. I wouldn’t boycott the game myself. I resolved to go and make sure I spent not a penny more at the game. I took a flask of soup with me so that I wouldn’t need my normal match day catering. I ignored the glossy new programme at £3 and reckon I saved my £10 in doing so.

On the subject of boycotting games. I didn’t go to the Checkertrade trophy game against Reading Boys. I was glad others also did so but I think the football fraternity has missed a trick here. We should be highlighting our objection to the academy teams playing in the league trophy. I think we should be encouraged to go to the normal games between league clubs. If Rovers were to offer £5 tickets for the games we should stack the ground out. For the academy game the club should charge £25 a ticket and hardly anyone would turn up. It would then be blatantly obvious that the feeling was anti the academies rather than the competition itself. At the moment the League can argue that all attendances are down bur not significantly less for the academy games when compared to games between league clubs.

I picked up Bob bang on time at 4. You know what is coming here. Ronnie strolled up five minutes late and so we had to do a bit of car parking adjustments and move on just as he reached for the door to get in. My how we chuckled to ourselves as he ran the extra ten yards, then ten yards more.

Pre match Pubs

The plan was to get to a pub for 5 and the game by 7.15. I dropped them off near the Weighbridge at 5.20 with full instructions of how to get to the Glue Pot and then on to the ground. I moved on to the cricket club next to the ground. I checked where the £5 fee went. The cricket club benefited from the charge so I also took to the bar and downed a coke. The bar in the Cricket Club pavilion does a pint of Arkells on super craft style so I didn’t miss out.

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The view from the not so far pavilion

When the boys turned up to the game they reported that the Weighbridge had some impressive beers brewed on site making it one for the future. The Glue Pot was as it always is. Good but on this occasion just o.k.

The Match

Swindon Town 1 Bristol Rovers 2 Attendance: 6,760 (approx. 400 – 500 Gasheads)

Roos 8, Leadbitter 7, Lockyer 7, Clarke J  5, Brown 6,  Clarke O 8 , Bodin 5, Sinclair 6, Lines 7, Taylor 6. Gaffney 5 Subs Colkett 6, Easter 8, Harrison 6

Entertainment Value 3

Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke

Apart from the first 15 minutes this was the complete away performance. Swindon were reduced to trying to buy free kicks in and around the penalty area. We played a midfield that had Lines and Ollie Clarke sitting fairly deep and Sinclair and Bodin working behind and wide of the front two. Ollie Clarke had one of those games that show his real value to the team. He set Lines off on runs in space. He filled in the gaps when wide players went forward. He tracked runners deep into our defensive corners and timed late runs in to the penalty area when space became available. He isn’t quick or particularly creative but tonight he barely misplaced a pass.

Jermaine Easter also made a significant improvement when he came on for the last 30 minutes. He too rarely lost the ball in close spaces. He won the penalty and drifted into areas that Bodin didn’t even see in his time on the pitch.

Our watching team was pretty limited. Of the usual crowd only we three, Marc the Putt and Peter de Meteor made the game. The club obviously used the extra revenue well by drafting in far too many police than could possibly be needed. We noted vans from Hampshire, the Met and Wales alongside local Wilts and Avon and Somerset. Our 400 strong crew of mostly season ticket holders left by Rovers paid coaches and cars while they supervised non-existent riots in the town centre between the ground and station. What a total waste of our over spent money.

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Where the missing 1200 might have been.

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Space saved for our imaginary friends.

Post-Match pubs

None. I drove straight home. One consequence of leaving the chaps to themselves was that we had to get something to eat. They had taken beer at a Gastropub, and walked through a town centre, past dozens of outlets, yet neither had the gumption to take on some food in doing so. So it was that at 11 on the M4 home I had to turn the radio to full volume and mask the sounds of munching and chewing in my left ear. I had left my ear plugs in my coat pocket.

Next up: Port Vale Home Saturday 24th September

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