Tuesday, 28th April,
THE SHIELD WON
A CLOSE FIGHT WITH THE
A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE SEASON'S
Rejoice, ye Swindon people!
And be exceeding
For Swindon Town of great renown
In contest close and keen, sirs,
They still have
"led the field" -
By margin sure, if 'tis but poor,
They've won the
Yes, the "Robins" have won the Southern League
Shield - not decisively, certainly, but nevertheless their conquest is
beyond dispute. Though the Palace made a draw of it at Gillingham, after
being a goal down at the interval, that goal against made their average
a trifle worse in comparison with the Town's, as the "Robins,"
if they did not score at Cardiff, also prevented their opponents from
notching a goal. The respective averages are as follows:-
... 1.97 goals to 1.
... 1.87 goals to 1.
It is rough luck on the Palace, who after their
meritorious fight receive nothing but the very barren honour of
occupying second place, but on the other hand, it would have been still
more unlucky had the Town finished second, for they have led practically
throughout the whole season. But the margin is not completely
satisfactory, and while we can heartily congratulate the
"Robins" on their success, we must spare a commiserating
thought for the Palace.
The season 1913-14 has been a most peculiar one as regards
the Southern League. From the brilliant manner in which the
"Robins" commenced, it certainly appeared probable that no
other team would stand the slightest chance of the Championship. The
first five games, which were won with the assistance of Fleming, set the
Town upon the topmost pinnagames: in each of which Fleming took part,
were won as follows:-
Queen's Park Rangers (h) ...
... 3 0
West Ham United (a) ... ...
... 3 2
Plymouth Argyle (h) ...
... ... 4 1
... ... ...
... ... ... ...
Then Fleming was injured, and McRobbie also could not appear
in the great game at the Crystal Palace, and naturally the first reverse
was looked for. But the Town accomplished their best performance of the
season (not excepting the Cup-tie with Manchester United), by overcoming
their opponents, who at that early date appeared Swindon's strongest
rivals for the Shield. So well indeed, did Batty, Giles and Lockhead
fulfill their duties as deputies, that the next five games were also won
"off the reel," as under: -
Crystal Palace (a) ....
... ... ... 1
Coventry City (h) ... ...
... ... 6 1
Watford (a) ...
... ... ... 2
Norwich City (h) ... ...
... ... 2 0
Gillingham (a) ...
... ... ...
The achievement at Gillingham was made the more
meritorious from the fact that Swindon were down 2 to 1 at half-time.
The policy of leaving a winning team alone if possible is
usually a safe one, but in the next match (against Northampton on the
County Ground), Fleming was re-introduced, this time at outside-left, as
partner to Bown. The change appeared to upset the whole team, and the
"Cobblers" went away rejoicing in the capture of the first
point that the Town had lost up to that time. A defeat at Southend,
followed by another home draw against Brighton, did not lead to inspire
confidence, but a splendid display by both teams at Portsmouth
somewhat restored the hopes aroused by the "Robins"
magnificent commencement. All this time the Palace had been playing
consistently well, and the few points dropped unexpectedly by their
rivals enabled them to approach more closely.
With the point secured at Portsmouth, however, the Town
started on another run of success, broken almost solely by those
surprising defeats by Cardiff City and Bristol Rovers. Millwall were
beaten after a stern struggle at the County Ground, while "the
usual" occurred at Exeter where the Town were somewhat fortunate in
winning a fast and scientific game by two clear goals. Then came the
reverse at home agains Cardiff, notable for the fine form of Evans,
the visitors' outside-left, and also for a woeful lack of effort on the
part of the home team. Worse was to follow, for in the fixture at
Bristol on Christmas Day the Town, (considerably weakened, certainly),
were overplayed to an extent I, for one, had not thought possible. The
adverse margin of 5 goals might easily have been doubled on that
lamentable occasion. Ample revenge, however, was taken on Boxing
Day, the Rovers being defeated on "home pastures" by five
clear goals, Swindon giving, perhaps, their most convincing home display
of the season. On the following day, Saturday, the "Hammers"
lost by four goals to one, when the "Robins" gave another good
The second half of the season was chiefly remarkable for
the inexplicable failure of the Town away from home. Whereas they had
commenced the first half with five away wins, and had up to the end
of the year achieved six successes on foreign soil, in the second half
of the season only one away victory was obtained - a failing which
almost cost them the Championship they looked so sure of possessing at
the end of 1913. On January 3rd this year Plymouth Argyle avenged their defeat
on the County Ground by a 3-1 victory at Home Park, but as the Cup-tie
with Manchester United was looming in the distance there were few
regrets in Swindon about that reverse. Fleming's goal - a memorable one
- against the United made "everything in the garden lovely"
again, and the victory that sent Swindon into the second round was a
fine and somewhat unexpected achievement. The Saturday following saw the
Town "bag another brace" of League points quite easily
from the "Saints," but Reading proved too strong for the
"Robins" at Elm Park, the "boys in red" having the
spectre of the Bolton Cup-tie before them, and playing
carefully in consequence. As often happens, however, especially where
Swindon are concerned, their opponents did not appreciate this fact, and
played a regular Cup-tie game. The impetuous Lofthouse came into
collision with Harry Kay, and the back, whose services would have been invaluable
at Bolton against the wily Vizard, was unable to turn out in that
all-important game. Fleming, also, was not fit for the second
Bolton Wanderers, therefore, met a "Swindon
team" and not the real Swindon, and there was really very little
doubt about the result of the game. Batty scored two good goals, but the
other forwards were very weak, while at full-back, though McRobbie did
quite well, he was unable to check Smith's dash and Vizard's subtlety.
Consequently, the Town made their exit earlier than usual from the
English Cup Competition. Crystal Palace were knocked out by West Ham on
the same day, and the rivals were thus left free to fight for the
Shield. On the following Saturday, the Town had a great chance to
"put a spoke in their rivals' wheel," for they entertained the
"Glaziers," but, far from achieving the desired object, they lost
the leadership for the first time since the early weeks of the
season, the Palace going on top by virtue of a two clear goals victory.
Football enthusiasm was at this time at a very low ebb in
Swindon, and a draw at Coventry the following week did little to arouse
it. A belated effort sufficed to dispose of Watford on the County Ground
by three clear goals, and then came the solitary victory away from home,
the "Canaries" being vanquished by two goals to one. A
remarkable victory over the strong Gillingham side tended to further
restore interest in the Town's fortunes, five goals being notched
against the visitors' defence. In this game, Bolland played on the right
and Long on the left of the attack. The Thursday following, however, the
"Robins" went down by four goals to two at Park Royal, and on
the Saturday another reverse was sustained on the Northampton
County Ground. Reading now began to be taken into serious consideration
for the Championship, as also were West Ham. Crystal Palace were like
the Town, not showing Championship form.
"Revenge proved very sweet" against the "Shrimpers,"
who were very easily overcome by five clear goals, but Brighton
were too "breezy" for the "Robins," and the Palace
were pleased! West Ham United could not appear to recover from a
6-0 reverse at Watford. Against Portsmouth, Gunner Rogers was introduced
into the Town team, and though the visitors had quite a fair share of
the game, the new centre notched four goals (two with splendid shots),
Swindon winning once again by a five clear goals margin. The Easter
games were expected to decide the destination of the Shield, and this by
some measure proved to be the case, for the Town, by a couple of
drawn games (at Merthyr and Millwall), and a victory over the Welshmen
by three clear goals in the return game, gained a decided advantage
over the Palace, while Reading failed utterly, and lost all direct
interest in the Championship. Exeter City, aided considerably by Dame
Fortune, and also the fact that Fleming was not playing, did the Palace
a splendid turn by capturing a point on the County Ground in a
remarkably peculiar contest, and the spectacle was therefore provided of
a real fight for the Shield - both Swindon and the Palace having a
similar number of points, and both having to play an away game on
the final Saturday of the season.
Considerable excitement, therefore, was noticeable in
Swindon on Saturday afternoon, and there was considerable jubilation
when it became known that as the rivals both drew their matches, Swindon
had won the Shield for the second time in their career. The game at
Cardiff was chiefly noticeable from a Swindon point of view by reason of
the fine defence set up by Silto, Kay and Giles, and especially for
Skiller's magnificent goalkeeping. Remarkable anticipation was the
chief feature of the Swindon goalie's display, and the manner in which
he placed himself to receive a shot from one direction, and then jumped
to the other side of the goal to repel another drive from the opposite
direction was remarkable for the agility and resource displayed. The
forwards were very moderate. Seymour and J. West formed the best wing on
the field for Cardiff, while the defence was particularly sound.