Friday, 24th April, 1899


   This match, played on the County Ground on Saturday, the contest for thee championship. Bedminster had ability of the Town team to secure a victory was somewhat shaken by the reverse sustained on the Bedminster ground only on the previous Monday, to say nothing of the disaster at Gravesend just two days before. Bedminster made some changes to their team, Cox (captain of the team) displacing Whitehouse in goal; Brookes appearing for Kelso at back, and Bell instead of Lamont at half. Mr. Tillotson was the referee, and the teams were:- Swindon - Menham, goal; Shutt and Logan, backs; G. Richardson, Henderson and Smith, half-backs; Sharples and Anthony, right wing; Little, centre; Coupar and Kirton, left wing. Bedminster - Cox, goal; Brooks and Crone, backs; Bell, Stewart and McDonald, half-backs; McVean and Massie, right wing; Leonard, centre; Copeland and Gray, left wing.
   The weather was warm and spring like, but the crowd did not number more than 2,000 persons, when the Town, winning the toss, set Bedminster to play against the wind. The opening movements were decidedly favourable to Swindon, Little quickly causing Cox to handle, and a beautiful shot by Henderson scored just above the bar. Bedminster, chiefly through Bell, essayed to get away, but Shutt and Henderson brilliantly checked the effort, and Little, getting possession from the right wing, drove in a glorious shot which Cox dealt with masterfully. There was plenty of excitement for the next few minutes, the passing of the Town men being very neat, and the home backs were kicking well, and Anthony twice had hard luck with excellent shots that crossed the goal's mouth, a third effort by the same player sending the ball behind. Now it was Bedminster's turn, a very attractive round of passing puzzling the home defence until Logan came to the rescue putting the ball forward to Kirton, who had a clear field but failed wretchedly. The Town also took a couple of frees without result, and once Kirton, getting the ball from Henderson, nearly scored with a header, being at the same time declared off-side. Play continued to favour the Town, for whom Coupar directed a nice shot and Sharples slung over a useful centre, neither effort blossoming, and the locals had really hard luck in not scoring when Anthony headed against the post from a grand centre by Kirton, a second header by Anthony being fisted out by Cox. Bedminster's defence was of the sturdy order, but their forwards rarely got the ball over the half-way. The Town came again, and Sharples found the goal, but the point was knocked off as "off-side". Bedminster went away from the free-kick, and Massie was ruled off-side when favourably placed. A free for the Town was beautifully placed by Logan, but Cox brought his fist to bear. Twice Anthony drove in oblique shots at great speed which passed across the goal, missing the further post by a mere shave, and from a free-kick close up the Town again came near scoring. Bedminster also almost scored as the result of some wing to wing passing, Menham having to touch the ball for the first time. Swindon at once went back, and after Cox had dealt with a long shot the locals had another free, which produced a corner; a second flag-kick followed, but this was cleared after a struggle, and Bedminster got down and caused Menham to save. Strong work and grand combination by the Town worked up to another corner, and Little directly afterwards looked like a scorer, but a Bedminster man took the ball off his toe for a corner. Two more corners came in quick succession and Kirton had hard lines with a header which went over, a shot by Henderson missing with similar luck. Had Swindon been three goals ahead at this point, they would have had no more than their deserts. A run down by the visiting rights and a mis-kick by Shutt caused Menham to finger the leather. The attack was of short duration, and the Town again applied severe pressure, but no goals would come, Little twice losing openings by kicking the ball straight before him instead of passing, Brooks and Crone coolly clearing. Nothing daunted by the persistent ill luck which attended their efforts, the Town plugged away and after Cox had fisted away a great shot by Kirton, Henderson sent in a fierce shot which missed by half-inches, a message from Sharples just later going equally near. Swindon had just been awarded a free-kick when half time arrived, with the score: -

SWINDON.................... 0
BEDMINSTER.............. 0

After a preliminary canter by the home forwards in the (???), Bedminster shot wide from a free-kick, and the game went rather more in their favour for a time, until Henderson brought the leather away and drove in a long shot. Little missed a chance and the Bedminster right got hold clearly off-side and the centre forward produced a goal., Massie being the last player to touch the ball. The goal was another sample of the bad luck which had been attending the Town's efforts all through. From the restart Kirton went off strongly but could not beat Cox, who also punched away a good shot by Anthony. Bedminster were next to attack, Menham being injured in saving from Gray. Upon the resumption Swindon worked very hard to get upon terms, and after Cox had smartly saved from a corner he fairly brought down the house with a magnificent piece of goal-keeping at close quarters. A further corner for Swindon was as unproductive as all its predecessors, the Town now playing just as poorly as they had played well before the interval, Bedminster showing a contrasting improvement. Sharples once had an open field and though he put on full steam ahead he was so worried by Stewart that he was forced to shoot wide, but directly afterwards had the satisfaction of placing the scores level in negotiating a centre from Coupar, who was now playing on the outside-left, with Kirton in the centre. The equalisation was received with cheers, and both sides threw more energy into subsequent movements, Bedminster soon being penalised for fouling. Some smart checking by Logan and the halves cut short a Bedminster assault, and the ball was sent down to Coupar, who centred beautifully, and Sharples headed into Cox's hands, and in some exciting play around the Bedminster goal the keeper twice saved from the same forward. The Town were again having all the play, and working like blacks, but try as they might they could not steer the leather into the net, the ball again and again being driven in hard and returning off the bodies or heads of their opponents, who were packing their goal splendidly. Cox saved well from Henderson, Anthony and Kirton, and frequently the ball was sent just over or outside the goal - everywhere but in the correct spot; Cox successfully negotiated everything which came straight, receiving grand assistance from Crone, Brookes and the halves; indeed, the efforts of the whole Bedminster team were utilised in defence. At length, Sharples drew blood, winding up a lot of short passing by driving home a perfect net breaker which Cox did not even see. Play only wanted a few minutes to run, and Swindon looked like getting further ahead from a grand centre from Coupar, but Cox got to the ball before Little, and Bedminster got away, Menham just turning the ball aside. The Town dashed back and after Cox had saved from Sharples, Little put on a hard shot, and at the end the figures were:-

SWINDON.................... 3
BEDMINSTER.............. 1