|Wednesday, April 9th, 1986
Swindon Town 4 Chester City 2
THEY'RE UP!... Swindon Town finally clinched promotion to Division 3 last night in front of a packed house of 12,000 supporters.
And they did it in a style which would have graced the pen of the late thriller writer Agatha Christie.
Twice behind, they had to search deep into the inner pride and passion that manager Lou Macari has instilled in them before running out worthy winners.
Many sides would have been shattered to find themselves a goal down in less than three minutes.
And many more would have been totally gutted to go behind again in the final minute of the first half to a controversial penalty after battling back to get on level terms.
But this Town side are a bit special... rare enough to rank in the chapters of the club history alongside the immortal Harold Fleming's team; alongside Bert Head's kids who won promotion in '62-3; and alongside the well loved Danny Williams' outfit who won the League Cup and promotion in '69.
That is why they were able to scrape themselves off the floor again, roll up their sleeves and finish the job they had set out to do.
Few games have everything, but this one last night came very close to it. Certainly it had an explosive start.
There could not have been more than two seconds on the watch when Chester's big striker Steve Johnson thundered into Chris Kamara and left him writhing in agony near the centre circle.
Johnson - the man with the tree trunk thighs who was involved in the collision which put former Town keeper Jim Allan out of football a couple of years back - was booked.
Just over two minutes later he was the villain again. But this time it was by using his powerful left leg to blast home the opening goal after Town keeper Ken Allen had fluffed a punchout.
It took Macari's men a further 38 pulsating minutes to haul themselves level.
And the long awaited goal came after Macari had switched the tall Dave Bamber from the right flank to the left to allow Dave Hockaday more room on his overlaps from the fullback position.
Leigh Barnard weighted his pass to Hockaday perfectly in that 41st minute and the converted defender - standing in for the banned Paul Roberts - collected the ball and made the byline.
His deep cross was a beauty and well met by Bamber, who found the net with his header despite an attempt by Chester fullback David Glenn to hook it out with his hand.
The crowd went crazy... but only for a few minutes. For, in the very last minute of the first period Peter Coyne lost control of an attempted clearance and, as he tried to reclaim the ball, Milton Graham went over his outstretched right leg.
From where I sat, it looked like a dive. But Southend referee David Axcell, from a very much better position, thought differently. He pointed straight to the spot.
Johnson beat Allen with a low kick to his left, but then had to re-take the kick because Peter Houghton had encroached into the area.
For a split second it looked as though he had leaned back too far as he lashed in the second kick. But it entered the net just under the crossbar and the Town were behind again.
When Charlie Henry - converted to centre forward in the absence of Colin Gordon, who had gone down with a pre-match chest virus - had an early second half header brilliantly saved from point blank range by Chester keeper John Butcher, I must admit to thinking it would be one of those nights.
But, in the 51st minute, the Hockaday-Bamber combination struck again.
The goal was an action replay of the first. Hockaday raced forward to collect a pass from Barnard, crossed it to the far post, and Bamber rocketed it home with a great header.
"Going up, going up, going up" was the immediate chant from the delighted Town fans. And they went almost into raptures only two minutes later.
The elusive Peter Coyne wriggled his way into the Chester penalty area, chipped the ball over the groping fingertips of Butcher, and Bryan Wade dived forward to head it home.
As Chester rocked visibly, the Town pressed home their newly won advantage. And the County Ground erupted again in the 67th minute.
Henry collected a long ball from the brilliant Colin Calderwood on the right, checked, and knocked it into the penalty area with his left foot.
Wade dived at it but only got the slightest of touches and, as it rolled loose, Barnard quickly won it in a challenge with Barry Butler.
He then drew the ball into a space and beat Butcher all ends up with a fine shot.
If Chester had been a hard side before, they were downright physical after the goal.
Glenn was booked in a brief moment of tension with Coyne and then came a 71st minute flashpoint.
Graham - who has been booked in the first half for time wasting - went in very late and hard on David Cole.
As both players fell to the ground following the unsavoury challenge, Chris Kamara angrily moved in and appeared to tread on the Chester man.
For a few seconds, the centre circle was full of players trying to get in on the action... many of them, including Town keeper Allen, attempting to calm things down.
Mr Axcell eventually drew Graham to one side, booked him and - having cautioned him earlier - had to send him off.
Kamara was next, but escaped with just a booking.
From then on, some of the exchanges were quite frankly brutal.
And, in the 79th minute, Kamara was laid out cold by a well aimed elbow, which looked to be attached to the arm of Chester's Gary Bennett.
The Swindon midfielder was still measuring his length on the turf as Wade took a pass from Bamber inside the box and was brought down by Earle Barrett.
David Axcell again had no doubts and pointed straight to the spot before calling on Town physio Kevin Morris to revive Kamara.
Coyne eventually stepped up to take the spotkick, but keeper Butcher kept it out with his legs as he dived to his right. Bamber quickly drove in the rebound, but again the keeper got his legs in the way.
Cole was booked in the 84th minute for throwing the ball at a Chester player following another foul on Kamara. And Wade had a net bound effort disallowed a minute later because of offside against Henry.
But, in the end, nothing else mattered other than the Town had secured promotion. As the celebrating fans emphasised, it was a night to remember.
Swindon: Allen, Ramsey, Hockaday, Barnard, Cole, Calderwood, Coyne, Henry, Bamber, Wade, Kamara. Sub: (not used) Hall.
Chester: Butcher, Glenn, Barrett, Greenough, Butler, Coy, Kelly, Graham, Johnson, Houghton, Bennett. Sub: (not used) Sconce.