Swindon Town: Better than Roma & Chelsea...

Town fan Nick Judd casts an eye on Swindon's pre-season schedule...  

Swindon Town are better than Roma and Steaua Bucharest and as good as Chelsea (stop laughing at the back) if this week’s friendlies are anything to go by.

On Saturday we beat CFR Cluj, who you’ll remember toppled the Italians in their own back yard and held Big Phil Scolari’s side at the Dr. Constantin Rădulescu Stadium in Group A of last season's Champions League.

On Wednesday, Town beat Universitatea Craiova, who last year did the double over Bucharest in the Romania’s Liga 1.

Cluj conquer Rome 

OK, so my theory might be a bit far fetched, but once upon a time – as a young fan who didn’t know any better – I would have believed such logic.

Of course, I now know that a pre-season friendly in Heidi’s back garden has no relevance to the Romanians’ Champions League exploits, but it’s nice to dream.

The sad fact is that such pre-season trips like ours to Austria is the nearest we’ll get to playing in Europe, but it just goes to show how meaningless games like this really are.

I’m sure that if Town were to meet Cluj again in a proper game, with points or qualification at stake - and more than seven fans in attendance - they’d beat us with as much ease as Butterbean knocking out Johnny Knoxville in Jackass, The Movie.

The same thing happened last year.

Simon Cox scored a wonder-goal against Fenerbahce as we held the Turks during another pre-season tour of Austria.

Roberto Carlos, aged 107, played at left-back, but we all dreamed of a season culminating in automatic promotion.

By December, however, we were embroiled in a relegation dogfight, our FA Cup dream was ended by Histon and our manager was on his final legs.

The best case of false hope I remember came ahead of the 2000/01 campaign.

Colin Todd had been appointed manager by a board with a few quid to spend, and together they signed approximately 7,639 players in an effort to build a team capable of returning the club to the Championship.

Among the new boys were Juan Cobian (nice bloke, terrible player who apparently had played for Boca Juniors), a supposed Finnish international called Mark Tuemelo, and Gary Alexander.

Alexander cost us £200,000. Sadly, he had feet shaped like a 20p (and not the ones fetching £7k on eBay), such was his inaccuracy in front of goal.

Our new dream team thrashed Southampton 3-1 (take that, Hoddle) in an early pre-season friendly, drew with Cardiff and West Brom and only lost to West Ham 1-0 as a result of a Paolo Di Canio wonder strike.

Yet by the end of August we were without a league win, we’d been thumped twice – by Walsall and Port Vale, no less – and lost to local rivals Reading.

"Take that Swindon!" 

Todd was sacked and assistant manager Andy King was left with the unenviable task of trying to keep us in the division with a squad comprising 7,639 terrible players.

Needless to say that should we return from Austria unbeaten this year, I won’t be getting too excited (although Anthony McNamee’s goal is a bit tasty, you wouldn't see Didier Drogba doing that, would you?).

Instead, I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve seen the first few matches of the new campaign. Pre-season friendlies are for giving trialists a game and nothing more.

Still, it’s nice to talk about football again as opposed to transfer rumours!


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