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Flashback: 1969

15 March 2013

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FORTY-FOUR years ago, eleven Swindon Town players clad in all-white stepped out at the Empire Stadium, Wembley and wrote their names into the club's history books. 

After 120 minutes of football, club captain Stan Harland led his team up the famous steps to collect the League Cup after a 3-1 victory over Arsenal, the club’s first and only major honour to date.

Swindon’s run to the final had seen them knock out First Division sides Coventry City and Burnley and on 15th March 1969, 100,000 supporters crammed into the national stadium to see Third Division Town take on top-flight giants and overwhelming favourites, Arsenal.

With 35 minutes on the clock, Town stunned Wembley by taking the lead. Native Swindonian Roger Smart blocked an attempted clearance after a mix-up in the Arsenal back-line and ran the ball into the empty net.

For the next 50 minutes, Danny Williams’ side produced a fine rear-guard performance to keep the Gunners at bay, helped by the heroics of the inspired Peter Downsborough in goal. 

With four minutes to play, Bobby Gould charged down a clearance from Downsborough and stole in to head an equaliser, ensuring that the teams would have to play out an extra half-hour.

Just short of the break in extra-time, Swindon took the lead once again. A deep corner from the Town right eventually landed at the feet of Don Rogers who stabbed the ball home from six yards.

As Arsenal pushed forward in search of a second equaliser, Rogers notched another goal with a minute to play. The effervescent Joe Butler won the ball inside his own half before finding Roger Smart. The scorer of Town’s first goal turned provider this time as he knocked a pass towards Rogers who was free ahead of him.

The winger streaked forwards before bearing down on goal. As goalkeeper Bob Wilson came out to meet him, Rogers whipped the ball onto his right side, rounded the stricken Wilson and clipped his shot into the empty net.

Since that day, subsequent League Cup runs have always evoked memories of that victory and the Town side that gave the club arguably its greatest day.

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