In a trip organised by David Hockaday, the former Town man explained how the visit to SN1 had materialised.
“The League Manager’s Association were approached by the Chilean FA who were sending their Under-17 team to England,” he said. “They then asked me to help organise some accommodation and some games for the Under-17s while they were over here - they host the Under-17 World Cup in October. I got them in at Bisham Abbey and organised three games for them – they played West Ham Under-18s, the Bisham Abbey academy side who are national college champions and QPR’s Under-18s.”
He added: “Off the back of that I also contacted Swindon Town and got them in on the Saturday to come and see the Town play.”
Despite the result, Hockaday says that the youngsters and the staff were impressed with what they saw at the CG.
“They were blown away by the fact that was a stadium for the third tier of English football,” he continued. “That’s as good as a lot of teams in their top league. They also couldn’t believe the quality of the pitch. They came on the pitch afterwards and met Lawrence Vigouroux – Lawrence also spoke to their goalkeeping coach. They did a big team photo and the hospitality that Swindon showed the Chile team was exceptional. They asked me to just say a big ‘thank you’ to everybody involved from the stewards, to the car park staff, to the powers that be and to the groundsman – everyone.”
Finally, he outlined the Under-17s’ plan of action before the tournament kicks-off in Chile next month.
“They left on Monday to go to South Africa then they go back to Chile,” he said. “I think they play England’s Under-17s in a preparatory game and have USA, Nigeria and Croatia in their group. They are the hosts so are hoping to make it through the group stages and the lottery of knock-out football.”