TOWN legend Ray McHale was at SN1 recently to pick up his Hall of Fame tie.
The midfielder, who played over 200 times for Swindon and scored 42 goals between 1976 and 1980, was delighted to have been awarded such an accolade.
“It’s great,” he said. “I was contacted by Mark Isaacs about 12 months ago and, now that I’m retired and in and out of the country, this was the first possible chance I got to come here.”
“The highlight of my career with Swindon would probably have to be the League Cup run when we played Arsenal (in 1979),” he recalled. “I remember we were 3-1 up then they scored two in the last five minutes to make it three-all. I remember Bobby (Smith) the manager sitting us down in the middle and we were all bit frustrated. Then we were fortunate enough to score later on in extra-time - I think it was Andy Rowland who got us to 4-3. It was a great night.”
He continued: “We also had a good run in the FA Cup and played a Fulham side with (George) Best, (Rodney) Marsh and Bobby Moore playing. We drew at Fulham then we had a packed house here - 30,000 - and we beat them 5-0. To do that with ‘Bestie’ and everyone here - I can still remember trying to push it through his legs and he just rubbed my hair. It was a great club and a great time in my career.”
Now living in Spain, McHale has fond memories of the Swindon side from the late 1970s.
“It only happens to you once or twice in your career that everybody fits in and everybody compliments each other,” he said. “I used to love being a midfielder. If you got the ball you just put it in the space for Ian Miller because he was like lightning - he was so quick. Then you know that if he was going to get the ball in, Andy Rowland and Alan Mayes were going to get 20 goals apiece and if we could get a few from midfield, Roy Carter and myself get you ten or twelve, then you know we’re not going to be far away. We liked to go and win games 4-3 or 3-2 and that’s probably where we went wrong. We didn’t know how to defend and if you look at the good teams nowadays they have 20 clean sheets and they win a lot of games 1-0. Looking back at that Swindon team, we just enjoyed the football.
“I’m fully retired now and spend a few months in Spain playing a bit of golf then I come back here. This is probably my first year out of football. My last job I was doing Level One coaching. I can honestly say I do miss it a bit but sometimes you want to hit that 40-yard pass and it only goes 10 yards you realise you’re getting on a bit so sometimes you’ve got to be realistic. I did take a veterans team in Spain and started coaching them. I must admit I thought I could just sit in midfield and pass it but they’re very passionate over in Spain, even the veterans’ football.”