I was told there was a piece about me in the Swindon Advertiser on Saturday, and I decided to go to the match. I called Jeremy – he told me I had to wear a suit. He knows what I’m like (I hate wearing suits) and he rang later to remind me. Later (and suitably attired) I headed off to the County Ground for the first time. I arrived in Swindon half an hour before the game having successfully negotiated the “magic roundabout” by the ground – a weird system of 5 mini roundabouts in one that looks as if it’s going to be a total disaster but works ok.
I thought I’d slip in to the ground quietly but people seemed to recognise me and twice I had a “hello Mr Black”. I thought this was a bit odd, but all became clear when I saw the Swindon Advertiser with my mug adorning the front page. I couldn’t believe I was front page news, but the Swindon Advertiser is a local daily and there wasn’t a lot of competition that day. It wasn’t the best picture – several years old and I thought I looked like a pudgy pasty faced cross between David Mellor and Doctor Evil. Oh well.
I went up to the board room – small and wood panelled with a trophy cabinet and a small TV. It had a lot of old world charm but it was very different to the London rooms (glass fronted boxes etc.) that I was used to. I had a plate of curry and chilli (fairly hot and spicy) and sat down between Nick Watkins (Chief Exec) and James and Sir Seton Wills. On my way out to the game I grabbed a slice of peanut butter and chocolate pudding but my timing was badly off – the plate gave way and the pudding hit the carpet making a terrible mess. Jeremy laughed loudly – I apologised and hastily made my way to my seat.
Jeremy ran me through the team – I’ve been following them for a while but it was good to get a bit more detail. Talking about Barry Corr made me think of Alan Cork who played a similar role for Wimbledon in the days when I used to follow them. I think the big guy up front is a lot of value, and Corr looked the ticket but the game had hardly got going when he was off with a dislocated shoulder. Sturrock came on, and later on he scored the only Swindon goal, but I wonder if Corr’s departure was unsettling as we didn’t seem to find quite the same rhythm afterwards.
Cox (papers not done in time) and Kanyuka (injured) were out so the two new signings on the pich were Ashikodi and McNamee. Both showed a little of what they are capable of but neither really shone. It worries me a little with players who were London born and bred that they may have trouble settling in outside of London – time will tell.
The final score of 1-1 was disappointing but probably fair. After the match I wandered down to meet a few of the players. I had a brief chat with Maurice Malpas – assured and confident with a strong handshake. I headed home a little later.
Main thoughts; We need goalscorers and Cox should make a lot of difference when he starts back. There were times when we didn’t look as if we were gelling as a team as much as we should have, but that should improve. The ground is old and a bit tired – a lot of Swindon residents head off to the Majedski stadium on a Saturday and that’s what we have to compete with.