By Dick Mattick
Winston Churchill once said “a nation with no past has no future.” The same is true of football clubs.
When form or luck is out the knowledge that one is part of a tradition stretching back for over a hundred years gives a sense of perspective. To know that in the past there have better days should reassure us they will, with continued commitment surely come again.
Transitory as the annual strip may be the metaphorical pulling on of a Swindon shirt by player or supporter should make one feel part of a greater whole which should inspire one’s efforts.
Regimental esprit decouer inspires great acts of heroism and team spirit does the same in football. Examples are Bert Trautmann and Gerry Byrne in Cup Finals and closer to home our own Jimmy Munroe who played with an illness so serious he would die from it just days after leading Swindon to victory over Tottenham.
Hopefully the Halls of Fame and Service should help those playing for Swindon or serving in other capacities to realise what a great club they are part of. A club that has a past and reveres those who made it. The present owner and management team are well aware that the club will carry on long after they are gone and are supportive of the iniatives which show the good side of football, a game which so often gets a bad press.
The Hall of Fame was originally the idea of Marc Isaacs, who had seen a similar scheme at Rangers’ Ibrox. He gathered together a group to help him select Hall of Fame members, installing an honours board as part of a process of making people who go to the ground or hold functions there aware that this is the home of a football club that values its history.
A group of over 40 players were originally selected on appearance and achievement criteria. Additional members with service off the field or who were part of exceptional achievements such as winning the League Cup were added, as all committee members suggested have a dozen additional members for discussion.
We are now developing the Hall of Service to recognise those in non-playing positions who have given service to the Club over a long period often for no tangible reward or recognition and witness the fact that off field work can be as valuable as that on it. A Hall of Service Board will be installed adjacent to the Hall of Fame Board when the latter is updated with players who have been enrolled this season.
Hall of Fame members are invited to attend a match in the club hospitality suites and presented with a Hall of Fame tie. Hall of Service members receive a similar invitation and are presented with commemorative glassware.