Monday, March 17th, 1986


... but this record was a nail-biter

Swindon 3 Burnley 1
by Clive King

SWINDON TOWN finally got the result they wanted to shatter a 62-year-old record and set a new club best of 14 consecutive League victories at the County Ground.

But it was hard to sit through... much too exacting on the nerves.

Certainly the tension got to the players, as well as the fans.

Because of the recent freeze-up, it was nine weeks since the Town equalled the old record by beating Southend on January 12th.

And to sit poised on any record for that length of time had to be wearing on the nerves.

That, coupled with the tension which always mounts during a promotion season, made it quite unbearable at times.

The only real pleasure came when it was all over and the objective had been reached safely.

Then, and only then, could everyone sit back and relax.

Looking back on the Town's performance, I'm just glad they were facing a side like Burnley, without very much fire power.


For, despite being terribly nervous and uptight, they still held far too many guns for the Lancashire outfit.

Burnley manager Tommy Cavanagh was the first to admit that afterwards as he congratulated Town boss Lou Macari.

"You were always the better side," he told his former Manchester United colleague.

Frankly, though, it was not Burnley who worried me during the game as much as the Town themselves.

Their obvious nerves led them to try and play far too intricately and for most of the opening half they seemed to bamboozle themselves as much as Burnley.

But, in the 37th minute, they looked to have made the breakthrough needed to settle them.

David Cole knocked a high ball forward, Colin Gordon got up on the left to head it square across the edge of the Burnley penalty area and there was Charlie Henry, racing through, to volley home a goal worthy of England skipper Bryan Robson.

It was a tremendous goal, for a piece of direct, open play.

And, if Dave Bamber's close-in header a minute later had gone in as well instead of clipping the outside of the post, I think the Town would have gone on to win at a canter.


But it didn't... And, with the first half in its final minute, Burnley scored a shock leveller.

Cole, faced by an easy clearance, changed his mind and tried to head the ball back to keeper Ken Allen.

Instead, it went straight to Les Lawrence, and the Burnley striker simply chipped it over the head of the stranded Allen to bring a loud groan from the fans.

And, once again, the tension became almost unbearable.

Fortunately, with the second half just 13 nervy minutes old Bamber paid back most of his recent 15,000 transfer fee by scoring when it really mattered.

He was virtually unchallenged as he rose to meet a right wing corner from Leigh Barnard, and his header seemed to clip off the body of Neil Grewcock before beating keeper Joe Neenan.


That was the big turning point. From then on, Macari's men all began to look composed as their team-mate Colin Calderwood had been throughout.

Calderwood, to me, was the vital figure in this Town performance. For, if Burnley contained a big threat, it was in 20-goal striker Alan Taylor.

But the cool Scot never gave the Burnley goal ace a kick - at least, where it showed.

And the Town relaxed a bit, another goal always looked on the cards.

And it came just five minutes from the end.

Peter Coyne, who had not enjoyed one of his better games, created a bit of space for Dave Hockaday on the left.

The subsequent cross was perfect and Gordon, throwing himself full length, rocketed a header past Neenan.

All that remained was for Waterlooville referee Alan Robinson to bring down the curtain with the final whistle.

Then, and only then, did everybody let out a big sigh of relief.

Even so there was a twist to the nerve-tingling afternoon... with Burnley leaving one of their players behind at the County Ground.

With Macari phoning the police to have the team coach turned back, they finally returned to collect the unfortunate Jim Heggarty (actually, I did not think he played that badly!)

Town:  Allen, Ramsey, Hockaday, Barnard, Cole, Calderwood, Bamber, Henry, Gordon, Coyne, Kamara. Sub: Wade (on for Bamber 89th minute).

Burnley: Neenan, Hird, Hampton, Malley, Overson, Heggarty, Grewcock, Deakin, Taylor, Lawrence, Hoskins. Sub: Devine (not used).

Attendance:  7,212