Monday, December 19, 2011

Just when they thought it was all over ...

While 21st century Premier Division players complain about Christmas fixtures curtailing their party going, in 1952 Swindon Town travelled to St. James's Park, Exeter on Boxing Day, with a return match at the County Ground the following day.

In front of a crowd of 13,620 it looked like Town was in for another defeat when the home team scored after 28 minutes. Under pressure from an all out attack by Exeter, Swindon goalie Sam Burton made a series of brilliant saves while centre half George (Garth) Hudson executed some timely interceptions.

And just when they thought it was all over, Jimmy Bain scored followed by a goal from Terry Ryder in the closing minutes of play, making Swindon the first team to win at St James's Park that season.

A victorious Town returned to the County Ground to do it all over again the following day, however the match looked in doubt when Swindon woke up to a heavy blanket of fog. The game eventually went ahead although at times spectators found it almost impossible to follow the ball or to identify the players.

In an evenly matched first half the score stood at 1-1. The second half opened with an early goal from Exeter and a swift reply from Swindon. The Town went on to dominate the game, beating Exeter 5-2 with goals from William Millar, Terry Ryder, Ray Betteridge and Jimmy Bain who scored twice.

While the fog obscured much of the play, the Advertiser reporter named Ryder as one of the shining lights in Town's victory, writing that "he swung across a stream of excellent centres, several of which might have brought more goals."

The Christmas fixtures saw Town earn four points, rising four positions in the Southern League, but sadly the end of the season had them finishing in 18th place. Having been in the bottom nine for three successive seasons, Louis Page said goodbye to the County Ground after eight years as manager while the holiday match hero Terry Ryder moved on to King's Lynn.

Pictured - Terry Ryder (top) Louis Page (bottom)


  1. There is an error in this report. Swindon left the Southern League when the third division of the Football League was formed back in 1921. Those matches against Exeter City were in the Football League Division 3 South. I was present at the second one. I remember most of the players mentioned (not Ryder though) and, on two different occasions, saw Jimmy Bain score direct from a corner kick, something I don't remember ever seeing or even hearing of being done since by anyone.

    Jim Fisher - Swindonian now "in exile" in Luton

    1. Sorry Jim - got my football terminology wrong. Thanks for sorting it out.