Before beginning this piece, I would like to make clear; I am neither a fan of Swindon, nor football.
Football, I can take it or leave it, and Swindon, when given the choice, I will almost always leave it, as shown by my moving to London at the first opportunity.
But since leaving the cultural desert of Swindon, the town in which I grew up, and where the majority of my family and friends still live, I have become uncharacteristically loyal to the North Wiltshire town, most famous for non-negotiable roundabouts and teenage pregnancies. I am now often caught defending the town at any chance, and saving newspaper clippings about the towns twinning with Disneyland.
This recent loyalty has even spread to the football team – Swindon Town Football Club. Throughout my life football has been of little interest to me, further than what the likes of Colleen and Cheryl were wearing in the stands, but at 13 I decided I would support the local team and purchased a Swindon Town strip with MACLEOD emblazoned on the back.
The shirt was this week dug out and lovingly worn as Swindon took on local team Millwall at Wembley.
Swindon was a-buzz with excitement, with countless friends on Facebook dedicating their status to their beloved team. On the other hand, friends I have made since moving to London all had anti-Swindon statuses, one even claiming they would hit any “lairy Swindon fans with a Millwall brick” (which I have since found out is a rolled up newspaper, used as a weapon because if arrested, it looks unsuspicious) My protective side kicked in and I wanted to defend my home team.
Since my knowledge on either team is limited to what colour strip they wear, and evidently, the weapons they prefer, I decided to ask my friend, life- long Swindon Town fan John Bamford, 54, why he deems Swindon Town a better team than Millwall, and I was surprised by his answer. John didn’t cite the merits of Swindon being better players, or nicer people, but of the town that they come from: “Swindon Town are better because they live in a better environment which helps to produce a different sort of footballer. Milwall players live in a big city with all the pollution and stress that goes along with that. The Swindon team benefit from a cleaner environment and are closer to the country side. Just to the south of the town lies the Wiltshire countryside and the ‘downs; with its invigorating air. The town players train on a country estate outside the town and benefit from a stress free and healthy lifestyle”
He went on to discuss the reason why Millwall, described at the UK’s second roughest football team, may have reasons for being quite so aggressive: “Due to the traffic conditions in London, their players spend a lot of time in traffic jams and are known to suffer from stress. This obviously affects their physical condition which is a paramount concern.”
It was interesting to me that Swindon supporters such as John, not only love their team, but also the town they come from. It led me to thinking that perhaps positivity towards the location, as well as the team itself leads to a better team overall.
While Swindon lost the match 1-0, supporters stayed loyal to their team and town, with one friend telling me: “Millwall played better and deserved to win. Of course I am fed up with the result, but as always I am just looking forward to getting back to home turf and watching the boys play again in August. Come on you reds!”