By Gerry Prewett.
With both the West Country clubs being regular members of the League’s lower Divisions, it is no surprise that they have met a total of 98 times and the record is pretty even. Town have won 44, Rovers 38 and there have been 16 draws.
They clashed for the very first time in 1891 when the Robins ran out 5-2 winners in Swindon, just 2 months later the two teams met again and fought out a 2-2 draw.
The first League meetings took place in 1920-21 season with both home teams’ winning. The biggest winning margin for Rovers was 5-0 way back in 1938-39. Rovers had a sensational 5-1 League Cup victory in Swindon on 27 August 1984, Brian Williams, Paul Randall (2) and David Williams (2) on the scoresheet.
Certainly, the home teams don't dominate in these games and perhaps that should give Rovers hope. It's maybe a reflection of Swindon's topsy turvy existence that sees such a record. Of the first 6 games played at Eastville after the War, Rovers won 5 and the other was a draw, Swindon's second victory at Eastville came on 7thSeptember 1965 in front of a 15,855 crowd in a very entertaining game. A flashing 25 yard drive by Don Rogers just 6 minutes from the end of the game gave the points to the team from Wiltshire.
Less than a month after that 1-0 Swindon victory at Eastville in 1965 Rovers travelled up to Wiltshire but came away empty handed once more. This time the score line was 4-3. Bobby Jones and Harold Jarman gave Rovers an early lead, but Eric Weaver and Roger Smart equalised before halftime. Harold Jarman restored Rovers lead on 49 minutes Then Denis Brown and Roger Smart struck within a two-minute spell to put Swindon in front for the first time. Rovers pushed up desperately looking for an equaliser, but Swindon defended well and took both points (only 2 for a win then!).
Rovers gained their revenge just over a year later with a decisive 3-0 victory with goals by Doug Hillard, Harold Jarman and Ian Hamilton. At the County Ground Rovers secured a 4-0 victory on 6 March 2010, Jo Kuffour Paul Heffernnan, Chris Lines and Jeff Hughes were all on the scoresheet for the Gas. On 13 October 1990 goals by Tony Pounder and Ian Holloway gave the newly promoted Gas a 2-0 win.
Rovers last visit to the County Ground was on 20 September 2016 was remarkable for very many reasons. Lloyd Jones gave the Robins a 6th minute lead. That was the way the score remained for a long time but the Referees notebook was almost full after Swindon’s Yaser Kasim 43 minutes, Darnell Furlong 67 minutes, Conor Thomas 70 minutes and Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair 31 minutes, Rory Gaffney 43 minutes, Billy Bodin 44 minutes, Lee Brown 50 minutes, Tom Lockyer 87 minutes and Ellis Harrison 90 minutes all collected Yellow Cards. Darrell Clarke also made one of his remarkable triple substitutions on 62 minutes. Replacing Charlie Colkett for Stuart Sinclair, Jermaine Easter for Billy Bodin and Ellis Harrison for Rory Gaffney. Rovers went in search of an equaliser and Chris Lines' free-kick was tipped on to the bar by goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Midfielder Ollie Clarke thought he had levelled the scores for his team in the second half, but he was denied by the post after his shot had the Swindon goalkeeper beaten. Rovers were awarded a penalty in the closing 10 minutes after Raphael Rossi Branco fouled Easter and Matty Taylor made no mistake from the spot to score his sixth goal of the season.
Clumsy defending from Swindon saw Branco turn Easter's cross into the back of the net for the winner moments later.