|view Austin's match-by-match record
After he had scored 64 goals in 59 games for Wessex League outfit Poole Town, and after a deal with Bournemouth fell through because of their transfer embargo, Austin initially joined Swindon for a week’s trial in September 2009, when he scored for the reserves in a 1-1 draw against Swansea. Though Swindon's initial bid was rejected, Poole eventually accepted a deal believed to have been worth up to £50,000, including clauses should Austin go on to represent England at international level - Austin giving up his job in the building trade to turn professional.
Shortly after, Austin made his Town debut as a late substitute in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Exeter - and when the game went to penalties, the Town scored all of theirs to win 4-2 - though it was later revealed that Austin would have been the fifth penalty taker. At the end of October, Austin partnered Billy Paynter in a reserve game at Reading, and when both strikers scored twice in a 4-1 win, both strikers were named on the bench for the trip to Norwich - and Austin made his league debut, coming on with twenty minutes remaining. In later interviews, Austin remembered the moment when he came on, "I thought: 'Oh my god. There are 25,000 people in the ground and there are 1,000 Swindon fans singing a 20-year-old's name that has just been working on a building site.'"
It was another month before Austin was considered ready for his full debut, and he made an immediate impact - scoring a goal within three minutes in a 1-0 win at Carlisle. Though he was obviously raw initially, and lacking the fitness levels required for League One (he was substituted in ten of his first fourteen starts), he showed an obvious goalscoring prowess - a knack of being in the right place at the right time, and a cool finish. By the time the January transfer window opened, he had increased his tally to seven goals in seven starts - and while the national media began to report on his rags to riches story, there were already rumours that bigger clubs were showing an interest - Derby, Ipswich and Nottingham Forest were all linked with a move for the striker. England under-21 boss Stuart Pearce was also spotted in the County Ground stands.
In the last six months of the season, the Austin and Paynter partnership notched 42 goals between them, twenty of which came from Austin, as he notched goals against some of the division’s big guns - including Huddersfield and Leeds both home and away, and a superb winner at Southampton - as the Town flirted with automatic promotion, but had to settle for a play-off place. After heading the Town’s first goal in the playoff semi-final against Charlton that helped the Town on their way to Wembley, the fairytale first season was to have a cruel ending for Austin - with the Town 1-0 down in the final against Millwall, an interception put him clean through on goal, but at the crucial moment of striking at goal, the ball took an horrendous bobble off the much maligned Wembley turf. With the Town fans behind the goal expecting the net to bulge, Austin’s shinned effort flew harmlessly wide - and when the Town went on to lose the game, Austin cut an inconsolable figure at the final whistle.
Over the summer, many clubs - including Forest, Middlesbrough, Cardiff, Burnley and Newcastle - were all linked with the striker, prompting chairman Andrew Fitton to issue a hands-off warning, stating that he "wouldn't get out of bed" for an offer of less than £1m. Predictions that Austin might suffer 'second season syndrome' proved to be wide of the mark, as he started the 2010/11 season with a consolation goal in the opening match against Brighton, and an equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Hartlepool the following weekend. After his first professional pre-season, he had returned with a noticeable swagger in his play - and Fitton admitted that though several clubs including Q.P.R. and Portsmouth had made enquiries, no firm offers had come in, and he was not for sale anyway - that was until a £600,000 bid from Millwall was rejected - managed Wilson slamming the Lions for unsettling the striker. Andrew Andronikou, the administrator at Portsmouth who had already angered Swindon fans with the way he had handled the Town's own administration period some years previously, also claimed to have made a £1m offer, which was categorically denied by Fitton.
Eleven days after the transfer window closed, with Austin remaining at Swindon, after scoring what proved to be the winning goal against Southampton, Austin was forced off with a dislocated shoulder, which kept him out for a month. After returning to action with a twenty minute cameo in a friendly against Reading behind closed doors, he returned to the bench in mid-October, before being introduced the following weekend with the Town 3-1 down at Peterborough, and though he helped to get the side back in it, scoring a penalty, Swindon succumbed to a last-minute own-goal to lose 5-4. It was the start of another purple patch for Austin though, who scored thirteen goals in a fifteen game spell.
During this period, chief executive Jeremy Wray quashed any rumours of a January move - again stating that the striker was "not going anywhere and certainly not in January", urging Austin to look to Simon Cox, who had stuck with the club until they came to a mutual agreement to sell. Austin himself added that he "had to be loyal to his contract", confirming he was in discussions about a new deal - days later though, he stated that he would relish the chance of Championship football, be that with Swindon or elsewhere. Off the field, rumours were rife about some of Austin's night-time antics.
During December, Swindon rejected another £600,000 bid, this time from Hull - The Sun reporting that the Tigers were planning to double their offer, and there was rumoured interest from Celtic, Middlesbrough and Leeds. When the transfer window opened, it sparked a huge flurry of interest in the striker - pundit Steve Claridge claimed that Birmingham had offered £2m for his services (though this was quickly denied by the club), Reading also enquired but declared that they could not afford the asking price. The Swindon Advertiser ran a series of interviews with former Town stars Alan McLoughlin, Jan Fjørtoft and Don Rogers, entitled 'Should He Stay Or Should He Go?' - meanwhile, Austin admitted that the opportunity to play at a higher level could be too good to turn down and that he was disappointed that the Hull offer had been rejected. Chairman Fitton rebuked Austin for the statement, asking the striker to stay focused on the Swindon Town cause, and again pointing to Simon Cox as a role model.
After giving a superb performance in a televised 4-2 win at Charlton, in which Austin scored a brace for the only time in Swindon colours, and just four days after Fitton's statement, Austin handed in a transfer request - a decision that manager Danny Wilson put down to immaturity, though Fitton said it was possible he could still stay. Soon after, approaches were made by both Blackpool and Burnley, with neither reaching the Town's valuation - Austin continued in the team against Tranmere, The Sun reporting that no fewer than four managers and 26 scouts were there to watch him. The performance he gave smacked of trying too hard - Austin snapping at shots that he would usually be composed for, and hitting the crossbar with a penalty. It also ended the longest lean spell he had had for the Town - not having found the net in the four matches since the Charlton game - it proved to be his last in a Swindon shirt.
Though Blackpool initially seemed to be closing in on the Town's valuation of the striker, it was a surprise when Ipswich were the first to agree a fee, but any deal fell through when Austin couldn't agree personal terms. With Southampton also showing interest, Austin requested permission to speak to Burnley, and the deal was finally concluded, Austin agreeing a three-and-a-half year deal with the Clarets for an undisclosed fee.
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