Words around the endurance of Swindon Town FC

By Alfie Howlett - 23 May 2022

Clubs & ActivitiesSport

A column from Swindon Link STFC correspondent Alfie Howlett.

As I sit down to pen this latest column, Swindon currently find themselves in the midst of a play-off campaign.

But instead I'd like to focus on the journey which took them to the play-offs. Or should I say fairytale?

If someone had offered a film director a script of how Swindon's season would pan out in July, it would have been thrown away for being too unrealistic.

The script would've started with the crisis. The club just days away from the brink of non-existence, unpaid staff and a handful of senior players.

The future looked bleak. Cue the introduction of Clem Morfuni, Rob Angus and Ben Garner. When Clem and Rob arrived at the club, the task that they entrusted Ben Garner with was an obvious one. Survival. But even at the time with pre-season fading and a transfer embargo in full force it looked like a tough ask.

I'll always remember when I first took my seat this season in a 3-2 defeat to Carlisle.

I felt happy to firstly even be back in a stadium after the pandemic.

But most of all I felt relieved that I still had a club to support.

My expectations were low until a 2-0 away win at league leaders Forest Green. The victory was part of a nine game unbeaten away record.

After dismantling the leaders in their own back yard, I realised that against the odds Town had assembled a special group of players. And perhaps simply surving would be an underachievement.

Swindon would welcome in the new year with a 5-2 thrashing of Northampton before a dream FA Cup tie with the champions of England. In the third round for the first time in ten years Swindon did themselves proud against a star-studded Manchester City side.

Not to mention Harry McKirdy writing his name into Swindon Town folklore. However the script would soon throw up Swindon's first mini crisis.

With Town enduring suspensions, recalls and injuries everything looked as if it was falling apart.

The early season optimism was quickly being overshadowed by a wretched five-game winless run seeing Town fall out the play-offs. Perhaps it was a step too far.

The Robins would work their way back into the promotion picture. Until an injury to talisman Harry McKirdy coincided with just one win in five. With the season entering the final straight a home defeat at the hands of Richie Wellens really did look like the final straw.

I as a fan had accepted that next season would be another one of league 2 football at the County Ground. However fortunately Ben Garner and the players didn't see it that way.

In mid July 2021 it looked as if the football club was finished. In mid April 2022 it looked as if the season was finished.

But no, four wins in the final four games saw Swindon secure a sixth place finish. A position that looked impossible in April, let alone in July.

Miracles really can happen.

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