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Colin Todd appointed King as his assistant during the 2000/2001 pre-season. He joined the club from Sunderland, where he was working as a scout for Peter Reid. During his playing career, he played for Luton, Everton, QPR, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves and Aldershot, scoring 92 league goals.
Whilst Colin Todd was finalising the details of his move to Derby, King was given control of first team affairs, and was given four games to impress Brady. His record stood as won 1, drew 2 and lost 1, and the Town had played reasonably well, certainly better than under Todd - and so Brady decided to offer the manager's position to King. King accepted, and things immediately took a turn for the worse - the Town losing 4-0 at Peterborough and 3-0 at home to Stoke in the next two league games, leaving them third from bottom in the table, and in the middle of a relegation dogfight.
During the remainder of the season, King brought many useful low-cost players to the club, including Ian Woan, Matt Heywood and Steve Robinson, but he also frustrated the Town fans with some bizarre tactical experiments - playing top-scorer Danny Invincibile in a right wing-back role, and employing both Heywood and Antoine van der Linden, both central defenders, as makeshift targetmen. The relegation battle went right into the last week of the season, and the Town looked doomed - as they sat just one point clear of Bristol Rovers, who had two games in hand and a vastly superior goal difference, the final home game of the season against mid-table Peterborough would prove to be vital, especially as Swindon had to visit promotion-chasing Stoke on the last day.
The game was a nail-biter - Swindon taking an early lead, but a bizarre mix-up between Alan Reeves and goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall gifted Peterborough an equaliser. With the game slipping into injury-time, Danny Invincibile volleyed a stunning winner - and with Rovers losing at Walsall, there was still a glimmer of hope - and though the Town were four points clear of them, Rovers still had three home games to play. Amazingly, Rovers lost both of their next two, against Port Vale and Wycombe - results that confirmed Swindon's Second Division status - even though they were thumped 4-0 at Stoke and Bristol Rovers won by the same scoreline, the Town stayed up by a single point.
After chairman Terry Brady left the club in June 2001, rumours were rife that King was to be relieved of his position by Danny Donegan, his successor. The speculation was originally denied by the club - Donegan dismissing it as "rubbish" - but two weeks later on July 31st, just over a week before the 2001/2002 season started, King was removed from his post. Though some Town fans were incensed by the decision, the majority were pleased - although all were in agreement that the timing of it was disgraceful.
In November 2001, the board that dismissed King were ousted in the High Court, having not been appointed in the correct manner. The new board were installed in December, and it soon became apparent that Swindon were £3.5 million in debt with no money to spend on players - then the man who replaced King, Roy Evans, resigned. The new board, who were adamant that King should never have been sacked in the first place, reinstated him as manager, much to the disgust of the majority of Town fans.
King's second stint as manager began with the Boxing Day game at home to Bournemouth. The crowd voiced their disapproval at his reappointment, which led to the Adver describing it as "a reception usually reserved for the pantomime villiain". A respectable mid-table finish temporarily endeared him to the majority of the crowd, before a club record run of defeats at the beginning of the 2002/2003 season left most fans calling for his head.
In desperation, King temporarily installed Steve Coppell as his assistant in an attempt to avoid what seemed inevitable. Things came to a head in Coppell's first match, with the Town going down 2-0 at Cheltenham, players became involved in arguments with fans. Coppell left the club within a month, claiming that even Alex Ferguson would struggle at the County Ground, with the club in the state it was in.
Behind the scenes, and despite King still being in charge, the board interviewed both Mel Machin and Jan Molby for the manager's position. At one point, it was reported that Machin had actually been offered the job - but a 6-1 defeat of Southend in the LDV Vans Trophy came just at the right time for King, who had been lined up as the club's Director of Football. King stated that he refused to work with Machin, and the offer was withdrawn - rumours were rife that the only reason King was allowed to stay was that the club couldn't afford to pay a settlement fee.
Another win the following Saturday was marred by further strange scenes at the County Ground. With the Town 2-1 up over Mansfield, fans in the Town End began a chant of "Lou Macari's Red and White Army", making it clear they wanted King replaced, and the man they wanted him replaced with. The players' confidence visibly dropped, and fans in the North and South stands responded by jeering the Town End fans. Rather optimistically, the board interpreted this as support for the manager, when in reality it was nothing of the sort. King only managed to alienate himself from the fans further by making gestures towards them at the end of the game, and calling them "idiots" in a post-match interview.
Over the next few weeks, the rumours of replacements stopped, and, as results slowly began to improve, the calls for King's head were muted. By the end of the season, the Town had risen from 23rd in the table during the darkest days in October, up to 10th position - and at one point, there was even talk of an outside chance of making the play-offs. It had been a remarkable turnaround in fortunes.
Expectations for the 2003/2004 season were raised when King, again displaying a great eye for a bargain, brought in many good players on free transfers - Tommy Mooney, Sammy Igoe, Brian Howard, Andy Nicholas and England under-21 international Rhys Evans all arriving at the County Ground. Despite an opening day defeat against Sheffield Wednesday, the Town started the season well, remaining unbeaten from then until October - occupying fourth position in the table. They also almost caused an upset in the Carling Cup - going 2-0 up against Premiership Leeds at Elland Road, only to be pulled back to 2-2 after a goal from United's keeper Paul Robinson in the dying minutes of injury time, and finally going out on penalties.
A run of just two wins in the next eleven matches during November and December, in a tight division, saw the Town slump to 14th position (though just five points off a play-off place) - and King's doubters began to resurface. Nevertheless, with his deal expiring in December, King was offered a rolling yearly contract, which he signed. A tactical switch to a 4-4-2 formation improved the club's fortunes, as the Town won nine of eleven games during early 2004 - a run that propelled them up into the play-off positions. The run also resulted in King's first award as Town boss, when he picked up the Tissot Award - a prize given to the manager with the best record in each quarter of the season. An end-of-season stutter meant that Swindon needed a point from the last game of the season to make the play-offs, which they gained, finishing in fifth place.
Unfortunately, the promotion dream wasn't to be. The Town met Brighton in the play-off semi-finals, and despite dominating possession for long periods in the first leg, and hitting the woodwork twice, Albion stole a 1-0 win with their only (deflected) shot on target. The second leg saw Parkin equalise for the Town to send the game into extra time, then Rory Fallon put Swindon ahead on aggregate - but the Town succumbed to another injury time goal, and Brighton progressed to the final on penalties. It was a cruel way to end what had been a successful season, and King's doubters had been silenced.
Over the 2004/2005 pre-season, King found his budget was cut again - so after losing influential striker Tommy Mooney and spending £70,000 on defender Jerel Ifil, he was told he had no more to spend on players, and a deal to bring Newcastle midfielder Bradley Orr to the County Ground fell through as a result. After losing the opening two games of the season though, King was allowed to bring targetman Darius Henderson in on loan from Gillingham, and after a successful spell, the Town clawed themselves to around the play-off spots again - though a permanent deal for Henderson fell through when his agent allegedly requested a payment of £20,000 to complete the deal. Eventually, King bought Christian Roberts from local rivals Bristol City - but by now, like the same period in the previous season, inconsistency seemed to reign - with the Town squandering a 2-0 lead at Walsall to lose 3-2, a 3-0 lead at bottom club Stockport to draw 3-3, and a 3-1 lead at home to lowly Torquay to draw 3-3 - but also, an amazing final 12 minutes at home to Sheffield Wednesday saw them recover from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Swindon seemed to be able to raise their game for the big matches, but struggle against the lower sides - at the beginning of December, their record against sides in the top half of the table was the third best in the division, but their record against the bottom-half teams was the fourth worst. As the inconsistent form began to frustrate the Town fans, a run of six games without a win was exacerbated by a terrible, gutless display in a televised FA Cup tie against Notts County that denied the Town a home tie against Premiership Middlesbrough - and once again, some fans began chanting for King to be relieved from his duties. January brought another awful cup performance, this time at League Two club Southend in the LDV Vans Trophy - the Town losing 2-0 in the Area Semi Final as the highest placed team still left in the competition.
The following Saturday, a three minute spell in a home match with Stockport saw Swindon score three times, and the win seemed to spark a mini-revival - an undefeated February gave the Town a realistic chance of a second tilt at promotion, and it also handed King a Manager of the Month award. The first game in March was seen as a six-pointer - a win against 6th placed Bournemouth would have seen the Town leapfrog them into the playoff zone - but the Manager of the Month jinx struck, as the Cherries went 1-0 ahead after less than a minute, and left the County Ground win a convincing 3-0 win, putting them four points clear of Swindon with a game in hand.
Despite this, an inconsistent division handed the Town another chance, and as they hovered around the edge of the playoffs come April, they were faced with another six-pointer at fifth-placed Hartlepool. Again, a win would have put the Town back in contention - another 3-0 defeat meant that Swindon slipped to 11th place, and any promotion hopes were shattered. Six games later, the Town ended the season in 12th position, which was viewed as somewhat of a failure considering the previous campaign.
At the end of the season, many players' contracts were up for renewal, and with the board seemingly only willing to offer one year contracts, seven players left under freedom of contract, including Matt Heywood and Grant Smith, who were both snapped up by Bristol City. Smith had scored ten goals in an impressive second half of the season to become the Town's second top scorer. With the Town squad decimated, worse was to follow when Ipswich paid an undisclosed fee for Sam Parkin, who had scored 73 goals during his three year stay. The fee for Parkin was believed to be £450,000, for a player whom King himself had signed for just £50,000.
King attempted to rebuild the squad, signing both Jamie Cureton and Tony Thorpe to replace Parkin, but nevertheless, by the time the season started, the club still only had nineteen professionals on the books - two of which were first years, and King had attempted to persuade another, Alan Reeves, to retire from playing at the age of 37. The tipsters obviously didn't know what to expect - in some papers, the Town were tipped to challenge for promotion, yet others predicted a relegation dogfight.
The season started badly, with two defeats - and though a couple of wins brought the Town up to a mid-table position at the end of August, the rot soon set in again. After a home defeat by Wycombe in the Carling Cup, a loss at Tranmere triggered a run of five straight defeats - and the home game with Bradford at the end of September attracted an attendance of just 4,590 fans. After the game, a group of seventy fans gathered outside the club's main entrance to protest for King's departure. As a result of the demonstration, King was asked to leave through a back door by police - a point at which King later acknowledged that he realised the end was nigh. The following Monday, with the Town second from bottom in the league table, the board announced that King was to be relieved of his duties as manager.
During his interrupted tenure at the County Ground, King's achievements went almost in full circle - just avoiding relegation in 2001, gradually up to the play-off season of 2003/2004, then back down to the slump at the beginning of the 2005/2006 season. Over that period, he managed to completely split the Town supporters - some pointing to his excellent record in the transfer market and his ability to work on a tight budget, others citing a perceived lack of tactical nous, questionable man-management skills and unprofessional, often contradictory, media interviews as reasons to get rid of him. The latter ensured that his time at Swindon was never comfortable, and having alienated a number of fans (not to mention opposition managers and supporters) with his outbursts, there were always a group of supporters waiting for the next failure. They were muted when the Town were successful, but returned with a vengeance when results were going badly - ultimately, the discontent at the club forced King out of his job.
MANAGERIAL RECORD AT SWINDON:
date of birth