Football League Division 3, 29/3/69
Swindon Town 0
Team: Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Eddy,
Lees, Walley, Scullion, Hale, Endean, Garbett, Lewis
Report by Colin Wiggins
"Why this match?", I can hear the under-forties ask. Well, this was the
match when I first experienced that indescribable joy that overwhelmed
all of us who were at Wembley on 31st May 1999, The Day Bolton Were
Swept Aside. That euphoria has brought back so many memories.
Consequently, on the alternative reality that is my video-recorder,
further victories are being replayed nightly.
Last night I saw Big Ron's Manchester United side humiliated by Jan
Lohman. Strangely, the next match I watched, away to Oldham on a snow
covered pitch, ended in a one-all draw but tonight the Hornets are
taking on West Ham in the next round of the Cup. I can't wait to see it,
maybe Nigel Callaghan will pull off something special....
It is about time I got around to Swindon. The 1968/9 season was drawing
to a frantic finale. It was Grand National Day. Three sides, Swindon,
Luton and Watford were fighting for the two promotion places from the
old Third Division and the fixture list had thrown up one of those
Winner-Takes-All matches, Swindon v. Watford. Two seasons earlier Ken
Furphy's Watford had been prevented at the last moment from reaching
their then promised land of the Second Division by only finishing third.
This time round though, we had Barry Endean.
Watford's team that Saturday was Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Eddy,
Lees, Walley, Scullion, Hale, Endean, Garbett and Lewis. The match had
been switched to a 7.30 kick off to avoid clashing with the Grand
National, so the coaches left Vicarage Road in mid-afternoon. I was fifteen,
with my twelve year old brother in tow, and a worried mum at home. This was
1969 remember, when hooliganism was fast gaining momentum. It was for
that reason, earlier in the year, our mum had not let us go to Old
Trafford for the 4th round FA Cup tie, which will one day surely feature
on BSaD's Famous Draws page.
A couple of weeks earlier Swindon had achieved their own impossible
dream, beating Arsenal at Wembley in the League Cup final, a heroic
performance after extra-time, inspired by the brilliance of winger Don
Rogers. They were indeed a formidable outfit and had already taken a
point off us at Vicarage Road. In those days, the County Ground was a
collection of old sheds and terracing. As I remember it, Watford took
several thousand supporters and we set Swindon's ground record, of
28,898. A capacity crowd then did not have the same post-Hillsborough
restrictions of today, instead it meant just cram everyone in and hope
The Watford terracing slowly filled up, at first to capacity and then
beyond. My feet left the ground. But we'd been amongst the 34,099 at the
Manchester United replay in February and it felt, well, normal. The
first action I remember was a penalty to the Golden Boys, up at our end,
a certain goal because Keith Eddy did not miss penalties. We celebrated
wildly for a few moments, then watched as Eddy placed the ball, strode
forward, and missed.
That was the moment I learnt never to celebrate the award of a penalty.
A sea of Swindon fans were jumping up and down, hailing Downsborough's
save. That is also the reason why I realised instantly that Tommy
Mooney was going to miss his penalty in the recent home match against
Bolton. It was, of course, Grand National Day. There is a fine tradition
of Watford missing penalties on Grand National Day.
No matter. Minutes from time Dixie Hale headed on for Endean to barge
his way through the Swindon defence. His shot was unstoppable. Crushed
together like sardines, we still found the space to leap up and down
like lunatics and to repeat the performance at the final whistle.
Although we didn't know at the time, we had assured ourselves of the
Championship, as we were to finish level on points with Swindon but had
the superior goal average. I remember the shared delight of gathering
together on the coach after the game and the realisation that I was
going to arrive home from a Watford match, for the very first time,
I had become a man.
PS Comic note. Luton finished third.