Tuesday, 28th April, 1914



   Rejoice, ye Swindon people!
          And be exceeding glad!
   For Swindon Town of great renown
          Another honour add.
   In contest close and keen, sirs,
          They still have "led the field" -
   By margin sure, if 'tis but poor,
          They've won the Southern Shield.

   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:-

   SWINDON TOWN            ...  1.97 goals to 1.
   CRYSTAL PALACE          ...  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:-

                                                           F.    A.
Queen's Park Rangers (h)     ...    ...     3    0
West Ham United (a)    ...    ...    ...     3    2
Plymouth Argyle (h)      ...    ...    ...     4    1
Southampton (a)           ...    ...    ...      2    1
Reading (h)            ...    ...    ...    ...      3    0

  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: -

                                                            F.   A.
Crystal Palace (a)    ....    ...   ...    ...     1    0
Coventry City (h)    ...    ...    ...    ...     6    1
Watford (a)              ...    ...    ...    ...    2    1
Norwich City (h)     ...    ...    ...    ...     2    0
Gillingham (a)          ...    ...    ...    ...     3    2

   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 show.
   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 Cup-tie.
   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.