1990: Phlegm, Fiona and Swindon Town

Saturday 13th Oct 1990

A Brilliant day!

We left around 10 for the game at Swindon. Fiona made us take a flask of coffee and some sandwiches for the car journey. The route was A 421 via Buckingham and Bicester and around the Oxford By pass and on to the A420.  As Fiona was driving we stopped for a pint at the Fox near Faringdon. Nothing real here but convenient. We parked up behind the County Ground around 1.30 and went straight to the match. We were in the Town End, under cover and it was very crowded. We were early enough to get a bar so Fiona could see. Gerry played Tony Pounder up front alongside Devon White. Not sure about that long term but today he scored one and was brought down for the penalty, A 2 – 0 win away from home certainly made a difference. Best bit of the game was Geoff Twentyman’s clearance off the line. He headed it up and over the bar from point blank range. Swindon fans didn’t like it at all. We left and had to walk to our car through them walking behind the stand. Some tosser decided he was so hard and spat over my coat and then ran away like a little kid. Another Swindon fan apologised for his fellow fan and offered a paper tissue to clean the gobbings. On the way back we stopped at the Red Lion at Finmere. A pint or two of London Pride after a win is always good. Home by 9. Watched Where Eagles Dare and Ben Elton with a take away Chinese ordered from Stantonbury.

 swindon-prog-cover

Programme Swindon away

The game can be seen here:-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TugCwAC2vc

swindon-prog-teams

The team. As recorded on my copy in ink.

I would get very annoyed if teams didn’t announce the teams or talked over when I was writing it down. It was very unlucky in my mind to start the game without the team sheet on my programme being correct. Swindon were managed by Ossie Ardiles and had Paul Bodin (Billy’s dad) at full back. My old mate Steve White was playing for Swindon and of course he had plenty of stick to endure from the Stedman barrier. Fiona was of course quick to dig me in the ribs for doing so.

 fiona-sat-am

Fiona tearing up a city centre on a match day weekend for Notts County away.

By 1990 we had discovered that Fiona had a football past. She was a genuine football watcher in her youth but had generally kept it quiet because she was one of those southerners dragged to watch Man Utd. by her Mancunian father and brother despite living in Tunbridge Wells. Her visits to White Hart Lane and autographs of Liverpool greats trumped my having watched Rovers at Eastville. Saturdays were no longer devoted to Rugby and we had time to use. I was in “disgusted” state at Rovers being at Bath and refused to go and watch them there. A bit like the time when Wimbledon went to MK all those years later, I thought the club was likely to sell our heritage and end up staying there, forcing Bath out of existence and becoming Bath Rovers. I couldn’t watch anyone else so we decided that we could watch Rovers away, perhaps having good weekend breaks at the same time and Rovers would have to do without our support at home. It wasn’t as if I had being going to home games for a very long time anyway. It was also Rovers first season back in the Second Division. The league at the time included Newcastle United.

The spitting event was a very rare occurrence at any of the many games we watched together. In all honesty it was Fiona who was more likely to retaliate to such aggression going in to full teacher mode rather than any act of direct violence. It was she who was all for running after the yob and give him her full finger wagging dressing down. She did this a few times over the years of watching the Gas. The best were the following events.

Burnley away. We lost and when leaving the game an old man walking in the other way was giving it large about how great Burnley were and Rovers were not. She retorted with her best jabby finger point. This was accompanied by “Old man, you should know better than to be so rude. If you don’t stop being so stupid I will have to tell your grandchildren about your poor behaviour.” She was magnificent and the old boy did indeed shut up and shuffled away to the laughter of his mates.

Against Bristol City some years later. We were in the East End when some City fans broke in to the back of the stand. Friend Kevin had his daps on and was quickly off the scene. We decided to stay in our seats and watch it all pass us by. The muppet wasn’t interested in us as middle aged couple. That was until Fiona decided that the coffee that she had just poured from the flask to the cup was rather cold. No use drinking this you could hear her mind thinking. The red hearted suicidal hooligan went deeper into the Rovers areas and then decided to about turn and get out quickly. As he passed the coffee flew in a majestic arc from Fiona’s throw. He had no option to keep running as he had quite a following of Rovers not so finest. Her only comment was. “It WAS too cold to drink.”

Her rebukes were often vented on fellow Gasheads. This final example showed her kinder high valued approach. A famous Rovers lad called Smithy once sat next to us. The Gasheads who read this and know him were aware of his reputation and taste for the vernacular. It was a full allocation of seats and neither of us had an opportunity to move elsewhere. Poor Smithy also had a heavy cold. The solution for Smithy was to deposit his phlegm in a green and yellow accumulation on the floor between his legs. It was an impressive feat of feet missing but very testing for those listening next door. Fiona’s solution was to deliver a lecture on the merits of a handkerchief or paper tissues. She had a few in her bag and freely gave them to him at regular intervals. He left at half time with an aside to us and said “It’s like sitting next to our Mum” Fiona’s quickly replied with “Glad to hear you have one” For years afterwards when we met at games he would always nod and sheepishly move on elsewhere.

In 1990 our Rovers games were:-

Brighton A 1-0 (Tunbridge Wells weekend)

Crystal Palace A 1-2 (Day trip by train)

Millwall A 1-1 ((Day trip by train)

Northampton A W 2-1 (Train from home)

Notts County A 2-3 (Weekend away)

Reading A 1-0 (Just me and Roger Siewert)

Shrewsbury H 1-0 (Weekend away

Swindon A 2-0

Watford A 1-1 (Train from home)

West Bromwich Albion A L 1-3 (Drive)

Wolverhampton A 1-1 (Weekend away – Telford)

In time The Red Lion at Finmere became our regular stopping point on the way home from games in Bath. It was also used by a group of Portsmouth fans who would stop off on their way back south. On other evenings we might also coincide with Bletchley Rugby chaps having a last stop before getting to base. The Fullers beers were standardly good and we would occasionally eat here. On this occasion though it appears the Paradise House in Stantonbury did the business.

ON THIS DAY:-

1969       Dallas Tornado Friendly

1970       Norwich H 3-1

1973       Port Vale H 1-1

1979       Southampton 2 Coventry 3

1990       Swindon A 2-0

2001       Macclesfield H 0-3

2012       Burton A 1-1

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