The day Shrimpers shocked Wembley heroes

Last updated : 16 October 2008 By Dad of Dave the Shrimper

Swindon and Southend were both founder members of the Third Division and both played our first game at home on the 28th August 1920, we beat Brighton 2-0 and must have been quite pleased with the result, but Swindon did far better beating Luton 9-1.

The modern fan that has been brought up on goal difference would assume that Swindon would have been top of the league with a +8 goal difference, but of course in 1920 it was goal average not goal difference. This meant that if you hadn't conceded then your goal average would be better than sides that had, therefore we found ourselves above Swindon in the league equal first with six others who hadn't conceded and Swindon having to settle for 7th with a goal difference of 9.

You can imagine how complex this system must have been as the season progressed and remembering that in 1920 you wouldn't have a pocket calculator on you, to work out league positions you needed a) a mathematical mind b) a large piece of paper and pencil and c) time. Can you imagine the situation after the final whistle of the last game when you don't know if you've been promoted till you check your sums.

Probably the biggest game between Swindon and Southend was in the FA Cup in 1969.

Billy Best, who along with Chico Hamilton, grabbed the winning goals in Wiltshire

Away 2-0

Saturday 4 January 1969 FA Cup Rd

Our league form was so erratic, but we knew we were better than that, so perhaps it was the Cup where we could really make our mark. Swindon were a Division higher than us, but as a Third Division side had just reached the final of the League Cup and were challenging for promotion to the second Division. We were allocated 800 seats which were snapped up by Season Ticket Holders, but there was plenty of room on the terraces for the huge contingent of Southend fans in the near 19,000 crowd. We were superb, fully deserving our win and people started to take note of us. Our reward for this massive win: a trip to Mansfield in the Fourth Round. Mansfield? How harsh can fate be. (Who luckily beat us 2-1 and then drew West Ham!)

Before the start of the match scuffles broke out on the terraces behind the goal, with Southend fans being the aggressors, minor stuff really and it petered out before the match started. These days chanting rarely starts before kickoff time, generally fans staying in the pub till the last minute, then fans would get into the ground as early as possible to take up the best positions and confrontation and superiority often sorted out by the time the match kicks off.

We went to Swindon on a party rate by train, for which one ticket was issued for the party not individual tickets, there were loads of us, we probably all had tickets, but when we arrived at the tube station barrier at Euston for showing tickets those at the front would call out to the bemused ticker collector, "Party Rate tickets at the back" then those at the back would call out "Party Rate, tickets at the front" and all rush through.