Division Four - Swindon Town vs Crewe Alexandra (BBC)

In Lou Macari's second season in charge, the Town won the Division Four championship at a canter, breaking the league record for the number of points gained in a season (a record which stood until 1999), and seventeen other club records along the way.

Amazingly, the season started terribly, with Swindon taking just five points from their first eight matches, and they sat in 21st position in the table - their only wins coming from home games versus Torquay and Northampton. Swindon also knocked Torquay out of the Milk Cup, with a 4-3 aggregate victory, the decisive goal being an own goal.

It wasn't until October that things started to turn for Swindon. A shock 3-1 win over Sunderland in the Milk Cup was sandwiched between six straight league wins, and only one goal conceded. At the end of the month, Town performed another giant-killing act, beating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 at home in the third round of the Milk Cup, the goal coming from Peter Coyne.

November brought four league wins in five matches, the odd one out being a 1-0 loss at Orient. The Town were also dumped out of both Cup competitions - the League Cup run came to an abrupt end with a 6-1 defeat at Ipswich, whilst Bristol City ended Town's hopes of a run in the FA Cup.

The winter months brought harsh weather - a Freight Rover Trophy match with Hereford was postponed five times! Just four matches were played in December - all four were won by the Town, the last of which being another win over Torquay, which sent Swindon to the top of the table for the first time. They remained there for the rest of the season.

The last defeat of the season came on January 4th, when Town fans helped to clear a snow-covered pitch at Tranmere, only to see their team beaten 3-1. The remaining 21 games of the season saw Swindon win 16 games, and draw 5.

After that Tranmere game, Swindon won their next eight matches on the trot - six of them away from home. During a weather-hit February, not a single League goal was conceded, and the top-of-the-table clash with Chester was postponed. A draw with Port Vale at the end of March brought a run of fourteen consecutive home wins to an end. It didn't matter - by now the Town were seven points clear at the top, with three games in hand.

Fate contrived to make the rearranged match with Chester the one that could hand Town promotion. In a bruising, nail-biting encounter, Chester took the lead after just two minutes - Steve Johnson, the man who had ended former Town 'keeper Jimmy Allan's career, pouncing on a mistake by Kenny Allen. Swindon equalised five minutes before half-time with a goal from Dave Bamber, but the joy was short-lived - Chester scored in the last minute of the first half, with a controversial twice-taken penalty kick, to send the Town in at the break 2-1 down.

After the break, Swindon took control. In a carbon copy of the first goal, Bamber headed home a cross from Dave Hockaday, just five minutes into the second half. Then, just two minutes later, Peter Coyne chipped the ball over the Chester 'keeper, and Bryan Wade headed home to put the Town in the lead. Leigh Barnard added a fourth in the 67th minute. The last twenty minutes were just as exciting - Chester had a man sent off, Chris Kamara was knocked out by a flying elbow, Coyne missed a penalty, and Wade had a goal disallowed for offside. Eventually, the final whistle blew, sparking a pitch invasion by the fans, celebrating the Town's promotion.

Swindon wrapped up the championship three games later, in a one-all draw at third-placed Mansfield, in front of 2,000 travelling Town fans. With four games to play, and with the Town on 90 points, the League points record was there for the taking. Victories over Aldershot, Orient and Halifax followed, meaning that the final game of the season, Crewe at home, would decide if Swindon would gain the League points record.

The crowd were forced to wait for seventy nail-biting minutes before Peter Coyne finally scored for the Town. Swindon held on for the last twenty minutes - therefore breaking the record, set by York City two years previously, by one point.

Seventeen club records were broken or equalled:

  • Most league points in a season (102 points)
  • Most home league points in a season (62 points)
  • Most away league points in a season (40 points)
  • Longest unbeaten league sequence (21 matches - previous record 15)
  • Most consecutive away league games without defeat (11 matches - previously 8)
  • Fewest defeats in a Football League season (8 matches - previous record 9)
  • Most consecutive home league wins (14 matches - previous record 13)
  • Most consecutive away league wins (6 matches - previous record 5)
  • Most league wins in a season (32 matches - previous record 27)
  • Most home league wins in a season (20 matches - previous record 18)
  • Most away league wins in a season (12 matches - previous record 9)
  • Longest league sequence without a draw (29 matches - previous record 22)
  • Longest league sequence without conceding a goal (592 mins - previously 578 mins)
  • Longest away league sequence without onceding a goal (516 mins)
  • Fewest away goals conceded in a Football League season (24 - previously 25)
  • Best goal difference in a Football League season (+39 - previous record +36)
  • Highest position in a Football League division (1st)