Oxford five-point penalty met with wry smile in Swindon
Robins devotee Nick Judd has a conservative chuckle about a rival's misfortune...
This weekÃ¢ÂÂs news that Oxford United have received a five-point deduction has caused as many sniggers in Swindon as a fart in a school assembly.
The Us were punished for fielding a player they forgot to register with the Conference at the start of the season. Seems that someone at OUHQ forgot to register poor olÃ¢ÂÂ Eddie Hutchinson, despite the fact that heÃ¢ÂÂd been at the club for nearly three years.
Still, they won 11 points with him in the side, so they can consider their five-point docking a stern ticking off as opposed to a caning.
Playing without permission: Oxford's Eddie Hutchinson
The news sees their slender play-off hopes lose even more ground. Before the announcement, they were nine points behind Torquay United, who occupy the last play-off spot. Now they/Ã¢ÂÂre 14 points adrift.
DonÃ¢ÂÂt get me wrong, it is pretty funny to see our main rivals pottering about in the Conference, even funnier to see them struggling. This is their third season at that level, but I would much rather be playing them than not.
WhatÃ¢ÂÂs the point in having a rival if you donÃ¢ÂÂt have the opportunity to humiliate them twice a season? For a start, games between us boost the coffers by filling the ground, while for us fans Swindon vs Oxford was always the first game we looked for on the fixture list.
Playing Bristol Rovers just doesnÃ¢ÂÂt stir the same feeling in the loins, while the prospect of playing Bristol City or Reading any time soon is as likely as Jermain Defoe winning best-dressed and most-popular footballer.
IÃ¢ÂÂve had this conversation with my Portsmouth-supporting colleague at work and, like many Town fans, he agrees that he would much prefer Pompey's main rivals Southampton to slip down the football pyramid into a vat of football misery and death than return to play them in the top flight.
The rate Pompey are going theyÃ¢ÂÂll be meeting their rivals in the Championship soon anyway, but many Robins fans feel the same derision for Oxford; theyÃ¢ÂÂd love to see them suffer and tumble into the Conference South and fall foul of the inevitable financial pitfalls that would bring.
No love lost between Pompey and Saints fans
But not me. Some of our encounters with the yellows have provided some of the best Ã¢ÂÂ and worst Ã¢ÂÂ moments in my Swindon-supporting life.
From Steve RobinsonÃ¢ÂÂs incredible double at the Manor Ground in March 2001 to the back-to-back 4-1 home wins in 1997 and 1998, playing Oxford can be the stuff of legend. I can even appreciate the bad times, they make the good even more euphoric.
Losing 5-3 in 1992 was painful, but we got our own back a year later, something weÃ¢ÂÂve not been able to do since our last encounter; the shocking 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup in front of the television cameras.
And despite the hatred we felt for Joey Beauchamp Ã¢ÂÂ who left us to return to whence he came, and score in a 3-0 win on his return Ã¢ÂÂ he made for some excellent terrace banter.
So while weÃ¢ÂÂre playing Huddersfield this week IÃ¢ÂÂll spare a thought for our rivals and their Ã¢ÂÂbigÃ¢ÂÂ game against Altrincham, even if it is with a wry smile on my faceÃ¢ÂÂ¦