|Tuesday, June 1, 1993
SWINDON'S superstars are on top of the world after reaching the promised land of the Premier League.
Glenn Hoddle's rocking Robins triumphed in a seven-goal thriller at Wembley yesterday.
And now the Wiltshire wonders will play their first game in the top flight next season - 99 years after they turned professional. Yesterday's play-off final was the second Swindon have won. But after Ossie Ardiles led them to victory over Sunderland in 1990, they were kicked out of the top flight for financial irregularities.
That sour memory was all but forgotten as nearly 74,000 fans were treated to one of the greatest games Wembley has ever staged.
Fittingly, Hoddle led the charge as he guided his side to a seemingly invincible 3-0 lead. But Brian Little's Leicester, losers at this stage last year, drew level with three goals in 12 minutes.
Then, just seven minutes from time, Welsh international Paul Bodin, slammed in the winner from the penalty spot after sub Steve White was impeded.
And Wembley belonged to Windon Town.
HERO HODDLE UP AND AWAY!
By Ian Whittell and Lee Clayton
GLENN HODDLE led Swindon into the top flight for the first time.
But he still left Town fans wondering who their manager will be next season.
Hoddle set them on their way to a mesmerising play-off win over Brian Little's plucky and unlucky Leicester.
But he did nothing to dispel the mounting rumours that link him with the vacant manager's post at Chelsea.
The presence of Blues supremo Ken Bates in the Wembley crowd just poured fuel on to the speculation.
And as Hoddle hugged his chairman Ray Hardman on his way up to the Royal Box, the question Swindon fans were asking was: Is that a good-bye hug?
Hoddle would only say: "When all the dust settles I will have to look at things and decide where my future is.
"I am sure the people of Swindon would want me to stay and I'm under contract for another year so there's no question to be answered at present.
"I want people to read about Swindon's promotion on the back pages, not about Glenn Hoddle. I'm not going to get involved in maybes."
Hoddle could have killed off such speculation by simply confirming he will still be at the helm when Swindon kick off the Premier League season in August.
But he added: "I'd be silly to put myself in that situation."
The day was always going to be about the former England great from the minute he scored the opener - his ninth goal in 22 Wembley appearances spanning nearly 14 years.
The victory finally provided justice for the West Country club, denied promotion after winning the play-offs three years ago because of financial irregularities at the club.
Hoddle said: "I think it's my proudest and best moment in football, because of the circumstances."
"We've only spent £100,000 this year and I've had to sell £2m-worth of players over the past couple of seasons.
"This also wipes the slate clean for what happened three years ago. I feel very pleased for the supporters and players who were here then. They have seen there is justice in life."
That applies especially to match-winner Paul Bodin, the coolest man at Wembley as he converted a controversial 83rd-minute penalty.
The Welsh international led the chorus, begging Hoddle to stay at Town.
He said: "Hopefully we've given him a headache by going up and hopefully he will stay."
The winner came after a long ball from midfield caught out Leicester and Swindon's fresh-legged sub Steve White charged through.
He was challenged by keeper Kevin Poole and Harrow referee David Elleray judged the challenge illegal.
Bodin's delight contrasted so notably with the Leicester team - play-off losers for the second year running. Many of them collapsed sobbing on the pitch after the final whistle.
Last year heartbroken boss Little had seen his team lose in the final to a dubious Blackburn penalty.
He choked back the tears yesterday, and insisted: "I honestly felt it was the wrong decision.
"Our keeper assures me he made no contact and I didn't think there was any. It was just people brushing into each other.
"At 3-2 down I thought we had a chance, at 3-3 I thought we were the only winners. But our lads were just exhausted in the closing minutes.
"There were quite a few tears on the pitch and in the dressing room after the game. But I've had a few ups and downs in my career. I'm like a yo-yo me. I'll be all right."
It was certainly a yo-yo game and the opening goal was the best of the lot. It came after 41 minutes and when Craig Maskell back-heeled the ball to Hoddle and he stroked it around the diving Poole.
John Moncur played a one-two with Maskell after 47 minutes and Swindon's top scorer curled the ball home.
Six minutes later, central defender Shaun Taylor made it three but within four minutes Leicester had pulled a goal back in front of this near 74,000 Wembley crowd.
Lee Philpott sent over a deep cross, Steve Walsh's header struck the post and teenage prospect Julian Joachim touched in.
Philpott again raided the left wing after 68 minutes and his cross was headed in by Walsh.
A minute later Philpott once more got down the left and as the ball came in Steve Thompson surged from deep before stabbing the ball wide of the advancing Digby.
LEICESTER: Poole 7, Mills 7, Whitlow 7, Smith 6, Walsh 8, Hill 6, Oldfield 7, Thompson 8, Joachim 7, Agnew 7, Philpott 7.
SWINDON: Digby 7, Summerbee 6, Bodin 7, Hoddle 9, Calderwood 6, Taylor 7, Moncur 9, MacLaren 6, Mitchell 7, Ling 7, Maskell 7. Subs: White 6, Hazard 6.
*STAR MAN* - JOHN MONCUR (Swindon). His boss will get the headlines but the tiny playmaker had the same effect and his passing destroyed Leicester.