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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN
5:30am Saturday 8th September 2012 in Sport
IS AWAY FORM GOOD ENOUGH TOP SIX?
AS A Swindon Town fan, what do you make of the last two weeks?
We’ve had a glorious win at Premier League opposition, a humbling in the league, an in-house controversy and a defeat to the old enemy.
So how do we judge the events of the past fortnight?
Well, from a personal point of view it has certainly been eventful. I’ve had my say on the Wes Foderingham saga, so I’ll leave it there, but one thing I think needs to be addressed is the difference between Town’s recent home record and their form on their travels.
I’m not privy to the internal dynamic behind the scenes at Swindon Town, and how it affects the Robins on the road, but away from home, since April 6, the statistics tell their own story.
On Easter Monday the Robins beat Morecambe away from home by a goal to nil. I wasn’t there, but by all accounts it wasn’t pretty,
Much can be said of Swindon’s results on the road since then. Defeat at Aldershot, defeat at Gillingham (albeit tempered by the guarantee of promotion), a stalemate at Bradford, another stalemate at Hartlepool, brilliance at Stoke, a thumping at Preston and frustration at the Kassam.
When Raffa De Vita told the assembled media earlier this week that Town don’t want to become that “average team” that win their home games but struggle on foreign soil, I sat up and noticed.
The County Ground has become a fortress in the Paolo Di Canio era, no doubt, and for a period last season Swindon dominated on their travels.
But any momentum away from SN1 seems to have ground to a halt since then and the question has to be asked – why?
It would be wrong to speculate on the specifics, after all only the management and playing staff know why life away from Swindon has been rocky while games on familiar territory have passed without a hitch. But is there room for concern?
Honestly, I think the answer is yes. It has been long enough now to question why on the road Town have not been able to replicate, nay even partially forge, their successes in Wiltshire.
I’m convinced the Robins will soon buck the trend, and that in due course those fans who pay big money to follow the team all over the country will be rewarded for their investment .
But for now there remains a lingering worry. A top-six team need results away from home, a top-six team needs to find their feet when they’re not surrounded by home comforts.
Today we return to the County Ground – where Swindon are unbeaten in more than a year – but the Robins are due a result when they visit Carlisle next week.
WHEN THE INTERVIEWER BECOMES THE INTERVIEWEE
I THINK the Adver sports desk might need to employ a press officer while Paolo Di Canio remains in charge of Swindon Town.
Over the course of the past six days my colleague Andy Warren and I have fielded three separate interview requests.
The nationals love Di Canio, and why not? He’s the opinion machine who’s been causing a stir up and down the country.
Monday – so what’s all this about Wes Foderingham kicking a bottle? Tuesday – so, after Wes Foderingham kicked a bottle, what’s going to happen next?
Wednesday – so did Wes Foderingham kick a bottle at Oxford? Don’t get me wrong, we can all be just as bad.
It’s just strange to be the interviewee and not the interviewer. So, with that in mind, applications are welcome.
Just remember, the successful applicant must be able to juggle non-stop attitude, violent mood swings and a penchant for analogy. And that’s just me!
THEY'RE SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE
SO IT turns out the older generation are just as bad as the yoof of today. A couple of weeks ago I had a good old, cricket-based rant about ignorant kids chatting porn and class C drugs on the boundary at Collingbourne.
And now I’m going to have to apologise - because I may have done their age group a disservice in singling them out for criticism.
While their levels of respect stretched as far as a rheumatic fast bowler and their language was limited to monosyllabic curses and grunts, I have since realised that I was picking on the wrong demographic.
Last weekend I made a fairly rare appearance for my local village side. I won’t name names as I’m no tell-tale. Okay, well only a little bit…
Anyway, we were batting and, having been dismissed for a score somewhere between 21 and 24 (our scorers are still debating this), I had to fulfil my five overs of umpiring.
I’m no Dickie Bird or Simon Taufel, and I’m more lazy eye than Hawk-Eye, but I know the laws of the game and I’ll always be honest with a decision.
So you can imagine my reaction when, having given a teammate not out, I was thanked by the bowler with a veritable torrent of abuse.
He tried to hide it under his breath but was about as subtle as a half-cut elephant. There’s no need for that.
If we want to teach those younger than us, like the children obsessed by women and weed on the Collingbourne boundary, then we have to inspire by example.
The bowler in question barely shook my hand at the end of the game. Then again, we had bowled then out for less than 100 and the gent I’d given not out had hit him for consecutive sixes. Still, the point stands.
INSPIRED BY THE PARALYMPIANS
IMAGINE you had lost a leg, or an arm. Imagine you had been living your life through the onset of cerebral palsy.
Imagine you had been born blind. Would you have the strength, the courage, the resolve or the sheer, unbridled determination to shrug off any lingering sense of self-pity, any personal insecurity or any fears of failure to become a world class athlete?
For many of us, including myself, I expect the answer would be no. And for that we could all be forgiven.
But for a few short days in the dying British summer we have watched those who said ‘yes’ and dedicated their lives to prove that a disability is a disability only in name.
Be it Ellie Simmonds flying the GB flag or Alex Zanardi, the former F1 driver desperate not to let a tragic accident end a sporting career, swapping sports to extraordinary results, the Paralympic Games has wowed me from start to finish.
They may not be global superstars like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps, but these Paralympians represent values and qualities to which the majority of us can only aspire.
To think some members of our society would make up a series of lies for a blue badge and a benefits package. They should live in shame.