The side that finished one place above us last season, and five points better off, Swindon Town are old rivals from way back, our first league meetings happening in January 1921 in the inaugural Third Division season. Swindon were 2-1 winners on 15th January, while Rovers won 3-1 the following week.
The clubs had previously met each other as Western and Southern League clubs and both had been crowned champions of the latter competition, Rovers in 1904/05 and Swindon in 1910/11 & 1913/14.
The total number of league meetings now stands at 91, with Rovers having won 34, Swindon 41 and there have been 16 draws.
Although there were two FA Cup meetings between the clubs, in 1900/01 and again the following season, there have only been three FA Cup ties involving both clubs since then. In 1945/46 Rovers were 4-2 aggregate winners, losing at the County Ground 1-0 and winning 4-1 at Eastville.
In 1948/49 Swindon were 1-0 home winners when the clubs met again in the competition and their paths haven’t crossed in FA Cup action since.
There have been two meetings in the League Cup, in 1984/85, Rovers winning the First Round, first leg tie 5-1 at the County Ground and Swindon winning 1-0 at Eastville in the second Leg a week later.
In addition, the clubs met in the Football League Trophy in 2017/18 and 2019/20; Swindon were 4-2 winners at the Mem in 2017/18, while Rovers were 1-0 winners in the 2019/20 tie, which was also played at the Mem.
Swindon did the double over Rovers last season, winning 1-0 at the County Ground in Paul Tisdale’s first game in charge of the Gas and winning by the same score at The Mem by which time Joey Barton had replaced Tisdale.
Only one man, Fred Ford, has managed both clubs, while Town’s goalkeeping coach Steve Mildenhall has also played for both clubs. In addition, former Rovers manager Graham Coughlan turned out in three games for Swindon in 1997.
Central defender Tom Broadbent, midfielder Kyle Bennett and striker Tyler Smith are the most recent players to have turned out for Rovers and Swindon, but the list is a long one, as you will see!
Chic Bates, Jon Beswetherick, Charlie Colkett, Steve Book, Billy Bodin, Colin Gordon, Jamie Cureton, Richard Dryden, Gary Emmanuel, Rhys Evans, Rory Fallon, Nicky Hammond, Andy Gurney, Giuliano Grazioli, Jerel Ifil, Sammy Igoe, Jo Kuffour, Rollin Menayese, Michael Meaker, Kaid Mohamed, Andy Monkhouse, Cristian Montano, Tim Parkin, Gary Waddock, Mark Walters, Steve White, Andy Williams, Brian Williams, Nicky Tanner, Ricky Shakes and Bill Roost all appear on the list.
Former Rovers manager Paul Trollope, who also played for the Gas, is the son of former Swindon legend John Trollope and although Paul began his career with Swindon he never appeared in a league game for them.
As for memorable games between the sides, I’m sure there have been a few, but the clash at the County Ground on March 6th 2010 takes some beating. Rovers won 4-0 that day, thanks to goals from Jo Kuffour, Paul Heffernan, Chris Lines and Jeff Hughes.
Then there was the game at The Mem in 2007 which saw Rovers win 1-0 to edge into the top six with just one game to play. The atmosphere generated by the crowd of 9,902 that day was electric when Rickie Lambert’s 26th minute goal was the difference between the sides.
(photo courtsey of Neil Brookman)
As for the County ground game that was abandoned in game that was abandoned in August 2016, it’s probably best not to go there, except to say that Rovers won the game when it was eventually played, though Gasheads had to pay again.
I think it would be fair to say that there’s very little love lost between Gasheads and Swindon fans and Rovers will be looking to avenge last season’s two defeats at the hands of their Wiltshire rivals in the 2021/22 campaign.
From BS7 to the County Ground it’s a distance of 40 miles.