THE LIST: 17 Swindon Town one-game wonders

Chris Smith, who made his one and only Town appearance against Bradford in May 2012

Chris Smith, who made his one and only Town appearance against Bradford in May 2012

First published in Sport
Last updated

SWINDON Town's history books are littered with accounts of players who have represented the club for years on end. This lot haven't. For good or for bad, here are 17 Swindon Town one-appearance wonders.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

1. Mauro Almeida vs Brentford, September 2007

The Portuguese was one of the “Three Amigos” signed by Town as part of the BEST Holdings takeover saga six and a half years ago, making his debut within hours of penning a deal at the County Ground.

He was a defender but couldn’t really defend and managed to get on the bench on one further occasion, three months later, before riding off into the sunset to fabulous Sligo Rovers.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

2. Adrian Bakalli vs Stoke City, March 2001

The Belgian produced perhaps the most forgettable debut in living history. He joined on a short-term deal and knew he had to impress to earn a longer stay in Wiltshire.

That he was part of a back line that conceded four first-half goals at the Britannia Stadium, was booked, got substituted at the break and never featured for the Robins again was probably not part of his grand plan.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

3. George Ephgrave, vs Clapton Orient, April 1939

You spend all week preparing for your big break in the Swindon Town first team, get a hold of your nerves, dust off your goalie gloves and get ready to make an impression. And then you concede five goals.

It was the worst possible start to life with the Robins for the goalkeeper. Ephgrave was part of the Town team beaten 5-0 in London and that was the beginning and the end. He never played for the club again.

4. Ray Barlow, vs unknown, 1945

Barlow went on to make over 400 appearances for West Bromwich Albion and also played for England. Thanks to www.swindon-town-fc.co.uk we also know he played for Swindon once at the end of the Second World Ward – scoring twice from left half-back.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

5. Chris Smith, vs Bradford, May 2012

The second winner of Samsung’s Win A Pro Contract competition went one better than his predecessor Jordan Pavett, in that he actually played for Swindon, but his run-out in the dead-rubber final game of the season at Valley Parade was his only appearance for Town.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

6. Dean Casserley, vs Brentford, January 1987

Only 1,100 fans pitched up at Griffin Park to watch the centre-back, in illustrious company with the likes of Colin Calderwood, Steve White, Fraser Digby and David Hockaday, concede four goals as they were beaten in the Football League Trophy.

Casserely, a product of the club’s youth academy, took the traditional route out of the pro game after that – with spells at Cirencester Town and Swindon Supermarine.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

7. Geoff Crook, vs Bath City, November 1960

As a goalkeeper, you’d rather not concede four goals on debut. Crook did just that against the might of Bath in an FA Cup tie. Thankfully for the stopper, Town managed six to win the tie but, on the flipside, Crook never played for the Robins again.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

8. Andy Lonergan, vs Hereford Utd, November 2006

What is it with goalkeepers and one-appearance wonders? Lonergan was drafted in as caretaker manager Ady Williams’ only signing, figured between the sticks as Town were beaten by the might of Hereford United.

Lonergan was soon sent back to parent club Preston after suffering blurred vision in a Wiltshire Premier Shield clash with Salisbury. A worthwhile loan, then.

9. Billy Brewer, vs Cardiff City, December 1913

Brewer’s is a tragic one-game wonder story. The centre-forward made his debut against Cardiff but not long after was conscripted by the British army.

A sergeant in the Wiltshire regiment, Brewer was killed in action within weeks of the outbreak of the Great War, in November 1914.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

10. Ronald McDonald, vs Bournemouth & Boscombe, September 1934

Not many people know this but the fast food clown was once a left-back and, 80 years ago, he made a solitary appearance for Town in a 3-0 defeat at Bournemouth. Reports suggested that his oversized boots and giant red nose got in the way.

You’re right, it’s all nonsense, but we like the idea.

11. Arnold Broadhead, vs Gillingham, 1924

How Swindon would kill (not literally, we hope) for a goals to games ratio of Broadhead right now. The forward registered twice against fierce rivals Gillingham, back in the days when the Gills were just another team in Kent, in his only match for the club.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

12. Danny Blanchflower, vs unknown, 1946

Blanchflower went on to play for Northern Ireland and captained Spurs to the double in 1961, so the fact he was drafted in as a ringer at the end of the Second World War by Town probably didn’t feature high on his list of career achievements.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

13. Alex Meechan, vs Wolves, October 1997

Meechan must hold the record for the fewest number of minutes on the pitch of all of our one-appearance wonders.

The Town youth academy product came off the bench in the final minute of a 3-1 defeat to Wolves, barely got a touch, and never saw the light of the first team again, released as he was the following summer.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

14. Lloyd Opara, vs Rushden & Diamonds, August 2004

Opara impressed in the reserves, earned a pro deal, played once for an hour in victory over Rushden and then left the following month saying he simply couldn’t settle in Swindon.

15. LNT Pearce, vs Marlow, October 1888

The earliest example we can find of a one-appearance wonder, Mr Pearce (no one knows his real name) was part of a Town team that lost 5-2 to Marlow in the FA Cup.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

16. Alistair Sperring, vs Bristol Rovers, August 1984

Sperring came in on loan three days before this League Cup clash against local rivals Rovers and subsequently let in five goals in a 5-1 defeat, didn’t play for the club again and went back to parent club Southampton the following month.

There really is a trend of rotten luck for keepers at Swindon.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

17. John Sutton, vs Crewe Alexandra, December 2002

The younger brother of former England international Chris, Sutton was only on Town’s books for 10 days – during which time he proved that goalscoring talent isn’t necessarily genetic, Sutton came off the bench against Crewe, didn’t score, barely managed to hold the ball up and was quickly discounted as a feasible option.

 

(Pics: http://www.swindon-town-fc.co.uk/)

Comments (7)

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6:20pm Mon 17 Mar 14

petercoyne says...

No 6 Dean Casserley.....we didn't get knocked out of the FRT that night, we got to the semi-finals and lost 3-2 at home to Aldershot after being 2-0 up before Fraser was sent off.
No 6 Dean Casserley.....we didn't get knocked out of the FRT that night, we got to the semi-finals and lost 3-2 at home to Aldershot after being 2-0 up before Fraser was sent off. petercoyne
  • Score: 2

7:05pm Mon 17 Mar 14

cornishrobin says...

What about Charlie Smithson? One appearance against Bristol City in 1900/01. He was my grandfather !
What about Charlie Smithson? One appearance against Bristol City in 1900/01. He was my grandfather ! cornishrobin
  • Score: 6

9:50pm Mon 17 Mar 14

Oxon-Red says...

Bit harsh Sam, thought Chris Smith did okay having been thrown in at the deep end for his appearance after Nathan's injury. I don't disagree with the Samsung deal but at least he did appear for Town.

COYMR
Bit harsh Sam, thought Chris Smith did okay having been thrown in at the deep end for his appearance after Nathan's injury. I don't disagree with the Samsung deal but at least he did appear for Town. COYMR Oxon-Red
  • Score: 2

6:33am Tue 18 Mar 14

Red Tuareg says...

Interesting article, there are a few others down the years who we might have wished had only played one game ?
Interesting article, there are a few others down the years who we might have wished had only played one game ? Red Tuareg
  • Score: 2

3:14pm Tue 18 Mar 14

MisterD says...

A truly interesting article.

I realise that there must be considerable time- consuming research involved, but such facts could make a great book.
A truly interesting article. I realise that there must be considerable time- consuming research involved, but such facts could make a great book. MisterD
  • Score: 1

11:19am Sun 23 Mar 14

Septimus Poynter-Brown says...

Seek and ye shall find !

If you look in Paul Plowman's 1879-2009 book you will see on page 10 that the first name of L N Pearce (no 'T') was Lemuel.

Oh, and Ray Barlow played against Bournemouth and Danny Blanchflower v Reading
Seek and ye shall find ! If you look in Paul Plowman's 1879-2009 book you will see on page 10 that the first name of L N Pearce (no 'T') was Lemuel. Oh, and Ray Barlow played against Bournemouth and Danny Blanchflower v Reading Septimus Poynter-Brown
  • Score: 0

11:55am Sun 23 Mar 14

FLOGGITLAD says...

dont know about first games, has Mr Ward played his last....
dont know about first games, has Mr Ward played his last.... FLOGGITLAD
  • Score: 0

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