Skip to main content Skip to site footer

County Ground memories…

Looking back at some of the stand out moments in the history of our great stadium...

27 March 2023

With the County Ground purchase now over the line, we caught up with some familiar former players to reminisce about their fondest memories of playing at our historic stadium.

The legendary John Trollope and Don Rogers took time to speak to our media team last week to recall some of their most memorable moments at our home.

We also spent some time with lifelong Robins fan David Wallis, and young season ticket holder, Alfie Howlett - both of whom are regular contributors to our matchday programme - to hear some of their standout recollections from attending games at SN1. 

John Trollope...

John Trollope.jpg

Having been born in the town and lived here all my life, the County Ground was pretty much the most iconic building in the area for me, even when I was younger I’d always dreamed about playing football there.

The stadium has always been a big part of the community and still is to this day, and when I was a young schoolboy, aged 14, that was when it all started for me.

We would play reserve games on the County Ground pitch and that was amazing, even with only a few supporters watching.

I turned 17 in June of 1960 and made by debut two weeks later in a 1-1 draw at home to Halifax. I’ll never forget walking out the tunnel for the first time and hearing the crowd roar.

Having only ever played in front of a handful of onlookers previously, all of a sudden I was being watched by over 15,000. It was incredibly surreal.

Of course the more games I played you’d get a mix of clapping and jeering, but that was football. It was just fantastic to be out there playing for my hometown club and I loved every minute.

I stayed with the club my entire career and the County Ground is a really important part of my life.

I’ve seen a fair few changes over the years, especially with the facilities. The original dressing room was similar to that of the cricket pavilion.

We had a pokey treatment room and there was no gym, so we’d train on the running track nearby, often changing in portable cabins in the car park.

One of my fondest memories was during the 1962/63 season, and we’d had terrible weather for a couple of months.

We were due to play QPR but it had snowed so much it was pretty much up to our waists. We cleared the pitch ourselves with shovels before the game, which was the only one going ahead in England that day due to the conditions.

That was the day we wore basketball shoes as you just had no grip with boots. You’d run one direction and couldn’t stop yourself to go another.

We won 5-0 that day under manager Bert Head, who amazingly brought his car onto the pitch the morning of the game with a railway sleeper attached to it to clear the bulk of the snow away! 

Don Rogers...

Don Rogers (4).png

The County Ground means the same to me now as it did all those years ago. It feels the same when I walk out onto the pitch now and I have more than 60 years of memories that will never leave me.

I remember when I first started as an apprentice at 15, I was tasked with reseeding the corners of the pitch for two years in the summer.

It’s just what you did when you were young and coming through the ranks. Others would do maintenance, from painting and decorating to cutting the grass.

I remember when I had just turned 17, and we were playing Everton in the afternoon. I was on the pitch the morning of the game shoveling sand!

This before taking on the best team in England at the time who had a squad full of internationals! You’d never see that now.

I also remember us playing Arsenal in the FA Cup in 1972, and we had more than 31,000 crammed in the stadium. People were sat on benches around the side of the pitch, but the atmosphere was incredible.

I made my debut at the County Ground in 1962 in a game against Southend United when I was 17. I don’t remember too much about it but it was such a surreal day. I hadn’t expected to play but was called up to replace an injured team mate, but every game I played here meant the world to me.

One of my fondest memories was actually challenging some of my fellow apprentices to see how many of us could climb one of the floodlights!

There was about 12 of us. I didn’t fancy it myself and only a few made it to the top!

It’s fantastic the ground has been purchased, especially with the fans. It means a lot and I’m really excited to see how it’s developed over the coming years.

I must pay tribute to all those involved who have helped get this over the line, especially the Supporters Club who have worked tirelessly over the past seven or eight years. The future is looking bright for this great club.

David Wallis…

Dave Wallis.JPG

My first visit to the County Ground was in 1969, and as someone who has since been a season ticket holder for almost 50 years, it’s amongst my biggest regrets that my attendance had nothing to do with Wembley. Or promotion. Or even the first team.

With my family having just moved to Rodbourne, our new neighbour invited my Dad and I to join him at a match.

My Dad couldn’t care less about football, but we stood on the Town End watching a Town youth team play Bristol City, and for this 10-year old it was the start of something big.

Within months I’d gone from not being able to find Swindon on the map, to commencing a Swindon Town passion which has now lasted 54 years.

My early visits were spent on Stratton Bank, attending games with a school friend and his father. When his Dad had to work one Saturday, I decided to go to the match on my own anyway.

I would have been eleven or twelve, and I never let on to my Mum or Dad that I was going to football unaccompanied.

Then, as always, the weather could be pretty bleak on the Bank, but in these pre-seated days it was possible to walk around the ground.

When the rain was at its worse, supporters used to gravitate onto the Shrivenham Road terrace for shelter, and any short kid who followed the crowd, couldn’t see the pitch.

I realised that there was a ledge under the Stratton Bank clock at the back of the terrace. It was possible to stand precariously on this six-inch shelf behind the fencing, just peering over the top of the corrugated iron which mostly protected me from the driving rain.

I wonder if the ledge is still there.

In January 1972, Town played Arsenal in the FA Cup. A big crowd was guaranteed and I bought my ticket well in advance… which I think cost 15p.

On the way to the ground, I had the ticket stolen from my pocket, and I went back home upset, knowing the game was a sell-out.

My Dad, well aware what Town now meant to me, drove me back to the County Ground to plead for my entry, and somehow obtained an adult ticket (for a huge 35p) to get me in.

There were 32,000 in the ground that day. Thanks Dad!

At the time, the old wooden North Stand was being demolished. The roof and seats had been removed, leaving just the wooden terraced floor. To relieve the congestion, supporters were admitted onto the remnants of the stand, from where I watched Town lose 2-0.

Ten days earlier, the new North Stand had been officially opened when the County Ground hosted an England Under-23 match against Wales. I was in attendance in our swanky new accommodation to watch England triumph 2-0.

My only experience of the old Shrivvy Road, upper seating area also came in the FA Cup, this time in January 1975. Having drawn at Upton Park, Town faced West Ham in a replay just three days later. Almost 27,000 were in the ground.

Town lost 2-1.

By the mid-seventies and now earning a few pounds as an apprentice, I reasoned that as I was watching every game anyway, I’d buy my first Town season ticket. It’s been renewed every year since.

So, realising that I was never going to grow any taller, I made the decision to switch to the comfort of the newly built ‘North Stand’, which is now known as the John Trollope Stand.

Since then, in contrast to the 32,000 against Arsenal, I was one of the 1,681 who comprised our smallest ever league gate against Darlington in April 1984. I was one of 12,788 who attended a reserve game against Birmingham City, a match which saw the distribution of vouchers for the forthcoming FA Cup game against Everton.

I’ve watched a couple of games from the Don Rogers Stand (the covid-restricted matches in League One in December 2020), but other than that I’ve been in the New/North/Arkells/John Trollope Stand ever since.

A quick total up suggests that’s over 1,260 County Ground matches all told.

Alfie Howlett…


As far as first memories go, nothing trumps my first visit to the County Ground.

The date was the 7 January 2012, a prestigious weekend in the football calendar with the FA Cup third round, where David had the opportunity to meet Goliath.

After victories again Huddersfield and Colchester, Swindon had their own opportunity to test their credentials against Premier League Wigan Athletic.

Managed by future Belgium and now Portugal gaffer Roberto Martinez, the top flight outfit arrived at SN1 to be welcomed by a sold-out County Ground.

After pleading with my parents to go, I got my wish on Christmas Day when my mother handed me a small present to unwrap.

To my joy it was my first ever football ticket, allowing me a seat to the hottest fixture in Town.

I was only five at the time, and my memory is slightly hazy to say the least, however, there’s certain highlights which remain embedded in my mind.

Firstly, I recall my Dad buying me my first ever programme, complete with a glossy cover boasting the FA Cup in the shadows of Wembley Stadium, which remains a piece of memorabilia I still own and cherish to this day.

Next, I recall my initial memory of the stadium itself - The Arkell’s Stand.

As I turned through the clunky turnstiles I was greeted with a mountainous set of stairs.

They seem like a stroll now, but considering I had the legs of a five-year-old, I can assure you it was quite the work out.

Once I had made my way to the concourse, next on the agenda was my first sight of the hallowed County Ground turf. I recollect that my seat was in close proximity to the famous Arkell’s Stand pillars, however my view was just perfect.

As for the game itself, I can still picture the short-lived elation when the visitors missed an early penalty, only for The Latics to convert the rebound.

However, Swindon were not to be deterred as they bombarded the Wigan penalty area with dangerous crosses, and it would be one of those that saw us level the tie.

Alan Connell glanced home future Premier League star Matt Ritchie’s ball in for the equaliser, and my first Swindon goal.

Then in the second half, Town completed the turnaround as Paul Benson diverted a Ritchie strike into the back of the net to spark pandemonium.

It might not have been remarkable, but it was special and remains my favourite Swindon goal to date.

The full time whistle was greeted with a deafening roar from the Town faithful as The Robins had made national headlines with a giant killing.

After such a joyous game, I remember walking down County Ground Road desperate to go to the next match, and I did just that and some, despite being a youngster.

In terms of recent memories, I can’t look past a cracking home game against Exeter City.

This particular contest is much fresher in my mind, with it dating back to early February 2020.

The Grecians arrived in Wiltshire as the closest challengers to Richie Wellens title chasing side.

As is often the case when the top two in the league collide, the atmosphere was incredible.

After a special January deadline day, Swindon were on a crest of a wave after the homecoming of Eoin Doyle and Jerry Yates.

As a result, members of the crowd came equipped with ginger wigs to celebrate the return of the ‘Ginger Pele.’

With The County Ground rocking, Swindon took the lead thanks to a wind assisted corner, only for the visitors to respond immediately, levelling the contest through a great team goal.

But on the stroke of half-time, Hallam Hope leapt like a salmon to convert Diallang Jaiyesemi’s cross to hand Town the advantage.

The Robins hung on to secure the win and add to the memorable moments I have stored away which will never leave me.


Advertisement block

iFollow Next Match Tickets Account