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Famous victories:

Football League Division 3, 29/3/69
Swindon Town 0
Watford 1
Team: Walker, Welbourne, Williams, Eddy, Lees, Walley, Scullion, Hale, Endean, Garbett, Lewis
Scorers: Endean
Unstoppable Endean
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 nobody dies.

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, after midnight.

I had become a man.

PS Comic note. Luton finished third.