A hat-trick at Stoke City in the Capital One Cup second round saw summer signing James Collins quickly secure fans’ favourite status with the Town faithful.
The 21-year old striker produced a fine performance at The Britannia Stadium to help earn Town a place in the third round stage of the competition for the first time since 1996/97 when the Robins travelled to
Old Trafford to face Manchester United. Whilst Collins and co won’t be mixing it with Sir Alex Ferguson’s finest in the third round stage this time around, the most recent cup draw saw Town drawn at home to
Burnley and few would bet against another bout of cup magic for Paolo Di Canio’s men.
Collins arrived at The County Ground on the back of two productive seasons with Shrewsbury Town. He rejected the offer of a new deal with the Shrews and has now scored 28 goals in 71 league starts in a
promising start to his senior career.
The official matchday programme - COYR - sat down with the striker ahead of the Leyton Orient game to gauge his views on a busy start to life in Wiltshire and what he hopes to achieve as the 2012/13
season unfolds. If you missed out on a copy of the programme, here’s the best of it…
How do you feel you have settled into life at The County Ground?
Things are going well and we have had a half-decent start to the season too. We have had some good performances and the cup displays against Brighton and Stoke have stood out as well.
What has surprised you most since joining the club?
Nothing has really surprised me because when I met the gaffer before I signed he told me exactly what he wanted and what he expected of me this season. Last Sunday’s result at Preston aside, we have generally played really well and hopefully shown people that we mean business this season.
Is it true that you had to cut your holiday short to return for pre-season training?
Yeah! I had booked my holiday quite a while in advance and at the end of last season didn’t expect to be coming back so soon for training. You have to make sacrifices when you start a new job and cutting
short my holiday was a small price to pay for signing for a club like Swindon. I lost a few days break but all the fitness work we have done is paying off now.
Was the Stoke game the most memorable of your career so far?
I’d say so because I scored my first goal for Swindon on the night as well as my first competitive hat-trick. It was a memorable tie for me, the club and the fans. It’s not often that you go to a Premier League
side and beat them on their own ground.
Which goal gave you most satisfaction?
The second goal. We had worked really hard on the routine in training during the week before the game to get across the marker and it came off. It was the one that I was happiest with because of the hard
work that went into creating and finishing the opportunity.
You thought about taking your shirt off during the celebrations too didn’t you…
I had a bit of a mad moment as you’d expect in the circumstances but I couldn’t even get the shirt off to be honest because of the sweat! It was great to be able to celebrate what proved to be the winning goal
with the rest of the lads and the Swindon fans behind the goal.
What’s the best goal celebration you have ever seen?
I like Nani’s celebration with all his back-flips but there’s no chance of me doing those! The Jimmy Bullard one was pretty memorable as well. It was after Phil Brown gave them a teamtalk on the pitch at
half-time. Bullard then scored and recreated it as a celebration.
Do you have a trademark celebration?
I don’t really. When you score you go into a little zone for a few seconds and then just see what happens in terms of a celebration. It’s a great feeling to score a goal and when it’s a winner it’s up there with the
best feelings around.
You had a decent run in the Capital One Cup last season too, beating Derby County and Swansea City en route to round three at Arsenal…
They were good sides as well. Both Derby and Swansea had quality in their side and they were quality wins. I then managed to score at The Emirates which was another special moment and the cup run last
year was fantastic. Hopefully we can continue in the cups this year and have more success.
You’ve scored a total of 29 goals in the last two seasons with Shrewsbury. Which is your favourite strike and why?
The Emirates one is probably the most memorable but not the one that meant the most to me. I scored a goal for Shrewsbury against Dagenham in the final home game of last season which secured
promotion with a 1-0 win. Overall I enjoyed my time with Shrewsbury. The gaffer was great to me and having brought me in from Aston Villa reserves, he gave me the chance of regular football. I had the
chance to show what I can do which ultimately got me the move here to Swindon.
Fitness is a key weapon in Town’s armoury, how fit do you feel compare to previous campaigns?
I do feel in great shape and can feel the extra half yard that helps you go for a bit longer and to make the extra effort. Italy was a lot of hard work but that’s all paid off now and going 120 minutes against Stoke,
an established Premier League side, was a testament to that.
What have you made of The County Ground so far?
I remember the great atmosphere here when I played for Shrewsbury against Swindon and that really stuck out for me. The fans have been great this year both home and away and there have been some
good performances at home already. I must mention the away support too which has been really impressive. There were about 500 away fans at Hartlepool on the opening day and given the distance that was a great turnout.
Do you have a specific goal target for the campaign?
If I beat last year then I will be happy with that. My aim is to do that and if I can do that then it will hopefully have helped towards a successful season for the team, the fans and for the club.