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After well over a year without a manager, a poor start to the 1956/57 season finally persuaded the Town board to appoint someone. It proved a difficult task, with Swindon in financial difficulties and rooted to the bottom of the league, there weren't many people interested - so they eventually chose Bert Head, an assistant-manager at Bury.
It was an unenviable job. Swindon finished the season just one place off the bottom, and having to apply for re-election. With the league being restructured at the end of the 1957/58 season, it would be crucial for the Town to finish in the top half of the table - to avoid having to become founder members of the newly created Fourth Division. Against all the odds, the Town finished just three points behind the leaders in fourth place, and took their place in Division Three.
With little money available for transfers, Head set up a youth system, which aimed to develop young players in some of the local leagues. Gradually, these players were blooded in the first team. Shortly before the 1960/61 season, Head arranged a trial match between the "Probables" and the "Possibles" - the Probables were the older, experienced players, the Possibles were a team of youngsters. When the Possibles won the game convincingly, it persuaded Head to start the season with a young team, which included the youngest ever full-back pairing of John Trollope and Terry Wollen - both of whom were aged just seventeen.
This system produced many future Swindon greats - Trollope, Mike Summerbee, Bobby Woodruff, Ernie Hunt, Keith Morgan, Roger Smart and Don Rogers to name but a few - and, as they gradually climbed the league table, the team earned the nickname, "Bert's Babes". After finishing 9th in 1961/62, Head guided Swindon to their first ever promotion the following season. It was a magnificent turnaround.
The Town's first season in Division Two started brilliantly. The young side won their first six games, leaving them three points clear at the top of the table - and didn't lose until the tenth game, when they were brought crashing back down to earth with a 4-0 defeat at Northampton. Suddendly, their form deserted them and in November 1963, the Town went five games without scoring a goal. They finished the season in a respectable mid-table position.
The 1964/65 season started as it meant to go on. An early injury to goalkeeper Norman Oakley sent the Town crashing to a 6-1 defeat. As the season went on, more players succumbed to injury - and crucially, the highly-rated forward Ernie Hunt was missed most often - firstly with appendicitis, then with a broken foot. Gradually, the Town were sucked into a relegation battle, and, when the final day of the season came, Swindon and Portsmouth were level on points, with the Town having superior goal average.
Both teams were away - Swindon at Southampton, Portsmouth at Northampton. Amazingly, the League allowed the Pompey game to kick off later in the evening, and when the Town went down 2-1 at The Dell, Portsmouth knew they needed only a draw to keep them up. With Northampton already promoted, Pompey got their draw, and condemned the Town back to Division Three. They had been unlucky - but the Town board showed no mercy, rather harshly sacking Head - the man who had previously turned the fortunes of the club.
MANAGERIAL RECORD AT SWINDON:
date of birth