Being a Swindon Town fan over the last few years has been tough at times. Just think we were one game away from Championship then relegated to League two in the space of just under two years. Both David Flitcroft and Phil Brown had a go at getting Swindon out of league two back into League one, both failed miserably. David Flitcroft left in spring of 2018 to go to Mansfield where he was relieved of his duties 14 months later. Phil Brown took over in March of 2018 and was sacked in November 2018 after a FA Cup win over York.
The club was on its knees in league two just hovering below the league two relegation zone. Something needed to be done and in stepped Richie Wellens and looking back on in hindsight 18 months later, the backlash that this appointment got on social media was quite embarrassing. I bet a lot of people were eating humble pie. Work was needed to be done with a bloated Squad and results were needed on the pitch to ease the anxiety of the Wiltshire faithful.
Safe to say the first game of Richie Wellens tenor in charge did not go to plan, a humbling 4-0 home defeat to Carlisle. But form did pick up and Swindon were climbing into the top half of the table with impressive wins. January was key and the owner Lee Power did back Wellens in the transfer market. With loan dealings which bolstered the squad and played a pivotal role in the latter parts of the season. The spine of the loan signings was Canice Carroll from Brentford, Kyle Bennett from Bristol Rovers and Theo Robinson from Southend. All three were a massive part of Richie Wellens philosophy of playing football. Quick two touch attacking pressing football and the Swindon Town fans coined the phrase “Wellensball.
Impressive performances were showing on the pitch and there was chat on of an outside push for the play offs on which just a few months prior looked completely out of reach. Away wins at Macclesfield, Tranmere, Mk Dons and Bury just showed how serious Swindon could be. Easter was pivotal to Swindon play off push and sadly the season ended with a bit of a whimper. Draw away at Cambridge on good Friday was followed by a defeat on Easter Monday at home to Crewe. The next game ended in defeat also away at Cheltenham and to be in attendance and to be 3-0 down after 35 minutes was not good, but we did salvage it back to 3-2 but could not press for an equaliser. Final home game was a 3-1 home win over Notts County which relegated Notts County out of the football league.
Summer of 2019 proved to be pivotal with a very impressive recruitment drive and a Social media drive from the club was brilliant content posted throughout the summer, which had gone missing from previous seasons. The bloated squad was trimmed, and the fat was taken out of the squad and cast aside. In came players who suited the system and wanted to play attractive attacking football. Rob Hunt, Tyler Reid, Mathieu Baudry, Zeki Fryers, Danny Rose contract was extended, the same with Michael Doughty, Jordan Lyden, Lloyd Isgrove, Jerry Yates and Dialling Jaiyseimi. Eoin Doyle was brought in before the Exeter game and the final pieces of the jigsaw was Anthony Grant, Steven Benda in goal.
On the pitch Swindon were flying up until late September and early October, where Swindon hit a bit of a rough patch of form and the wheels started to fall off a little bit. Defeats at home to Colchester and Newport County followed with an away loss at Bradford a home draw against Plymouth and then a devastating defeat at Crewe. The Crewe defeat was a bit of an eye opener, Crewe played Swindon off the park and could have won the game by more than two goals. What made the result worse was that me and my friend had a delayed train home and took us even longer to get back to Swindon.
The Stevenage game just a few days later was the turning point of the season. 90th plus minutes on the clock, struggled to knock down a back 8 of stubborn Stevenage resistance. Rob Hunt played a delightful cross to Eoin Doyle who stroked home and started an astonishing sequence of wins. Crawley, Walsall, Salford, Mansfield, Grimsby and Oldham at home. 7 wins in a row. Would have been 8 but a late time draw at Forest Green dented the win. An emphatic 4-0 on boxing day against Cambridge united followed and then a reality check. A 2-0 away defeat at Port Vale where the team looked a little leggy. Three games in 6 days was a bit of a tough ask.
January 2020 was a fun time to be a Swindon fan, two players get recalled back to their parent clubs in Jerry Yates and Eoin Doyle. Was expecting the latter as he was scoring goals for fun in league two for Swindon and it would have been stupid for Bradford City not to take him back. just a few weeks later and a lot of social media banter between clubs in the league, both Doyle and yates were back for the summer. So was Anthony Grant who signed a permanent deal and so was Paul Caddis who signed a contract extension to the end of the 2020/21 season. Hallam hope was brought in from Carlisle on a permanent deal. Admiral Muskwe was bought in from Leicester to give competition up front. Rarmani Edmonds-Green was brought in from Huddersfield to help the defence.
The final months of the season saw the club play some brilliant football and win some very important games against the top sides in league two. On new years day Swindon went to win 2-1 at Plymouth and put in a stellar display. Bless Bless. First weekend in February in a wind tunnel and the conditions were appalling, Swindon managed to eek out a 2-1 home win over Exeter in front of an almost sell out. We also got to see a brilliant home win over Crewe where the squad was depleted with injuries and players being recalled back to parent club. A new shape in a 3-5-2 and played out of the skins, the support on that day was out of this world.
Sadly, the season ended early due to the horrible pandemic which swept the world in early 2020 and caused devastation. The season was rightly put on hold, maybe should have done sooner. So, in middle of June with months of anticipation Swindon Town won league two by PPG. This is the third time I have season Swindon win the league, two times I have seen it in the County Ground. The third time from my Kitchen table while working from home. It was surreal to win it by PPG. it was an unbelievable effort from the staff and the players and the owner who fronted the cash to fund this squad. To take this team onto the next level and see what we can achieve in league one next season.
This summer was always going to be a difficult one to judge in buying players and we are still in a pandemic and the club is not generating money in the process. So, I see all the hysteria on social media when Eoin Doyle left to join Bolton on a three-year deal. Then Jerry Yates left to sign for Blackpool on a permanent deal. I do believe that If there was not a pandemic going on in the world at the moment, both of those players would be Swindon players for the 2020/21 season.
Trust what the club is doing, this week so far has been positive with the contract extensions done for Zeki Fryers and Ellis Iandolo. That is on top of Jordan Lyden, Rob Hunt and Mathieu Baudry signing contract extensions with the club. The best news was on Monday evening with the permanent signing of Dialling Jaiyseimi on a free transfer from Norwich on a three-year deal. This is the type of player you want to invest in. A young hungry player who has quality and re-sale value.
The future looks bright for Swindon, remain positive in these horrible times. Let us hope for some more good news at the end of the week when the players are back in training. when this is all over and we can go back into the stadiums again it will be emotional time, but it will be worth it. We can celebrate that league two win properly
Article written by guest TrustSTFC author Scot Munroe