An open letter to Swindon Town

Dear Swindon Town
Firstly, sorry for writing to you en masse like this but I feel it’s time we talked.

Let’s be honest, it’s been a good season for both of us. You are set to win the league and we are continuing our steady recovery from a decade of neglect with real potential for clinching a play-off spot. I guess we had hoped to be higher, but objectively, we’re pretty happy with where we are at the moment. Something you learn when you’re in the doldrums is to keep life in perspective. Who knows, this time next year we could both be in League 1? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Now, I don’t have a massive problem with you to be honest. For example, I quite like your manager. I don’t agree with his politics, but I’m assuming that he’s not actively ethnic cleansing anyone at the moment and a man is more complex than his ideological persuasion. He’s charismatic and funny. I like listening to his interviews. He plays a great villain with his sun glasses and histrionics and all that scarf waving.

I have to say, I feel uncomfortable addressing you as one, like you’re all the same. You’re not all bad. The Washbag, the Swindon blog, has got to be amongst the best on the web. It’s coverage of the derby was first class; intelligently partisan. You should read it, support it and encourage its progress.

And congratulations on Matt Ritchie, by the way. He’s clearly quite a good player. His performance at the Kassam was completely overshadowed by his assault on our ball boy, of course. But he was magnanimous enough to apologise after the final whistle and it was all a bit in the heat of the moment.

We’re pleased to have kept James Constable, he means a lot to us. Be honest, you wanted him. You don’t make three bids and spout lies and nonsense in the press, like your manager did, if you don’t want a player. He didn’t want to go. Because if he wanted to go, he’d have gone. Footballers and clubs are very good at making deals happen if they want them to. And it didn’t happen. If you’re right, however, and Di Canio did pull out due to Constable’s hesitation, you might want to ask why your manager is prepared to risk your club’s money on whimsical big money bids. Believe me, that’s just not healthy; the man has a rampant ego, you might want to watch that. Please stop pretending that you didn’t want Constable and that he wanted to come. It’s just not doing you any good.

And while we’re at it, let’s just keep the Lee Holmes thing in perspective. This isn’t Mo Johnston breaching a century-old religious divide moving from Celtic to Rangers. We signed Lee briefly on loan. He did pretty well for us, including two lovely crosses for the goals in the derby. He has decided to come to you. Surely you don’t believe that he’s moved for anything other than business reasons. He might help you win the title but, you were already going to win that anyway. He hasn’t moved to spite us, he’s moved so that he can gad around as a ‘title winner’ in May and, I suspect, because Southampton got a better financial deal out of your lot. So you’re spending more money on a player you don’t need. I don’t know, perhaps you can afford it, but why are you stockpiling expensive players?

We’ll ignore Mehdi Kerrouche, whose move has been largely inconsequential. He didn’t really ‘do it’ for us, and I suspect he’ll now rot in the reserve for you. No gain there.

Now, let’s deal with one of those portentous phrases you keep using; ‘Forever in our shadow’. Am I right to assume this is some sort of analogy to illustrate how we’re supposedly cowering from your luminous glory? Let’s be honest, neither of us can really claim any great glory in our recent history. We enjoy our clubs and what they stand for, and we enjoy our successes when they happen. But your glories are not so bright as to cast a significant shadow over anyone.

Sorry, you’re just not that important. There’s nothing for us to be jealous of. In two years time, no one will remember your League 2 title. I’m sorry, they won’t. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for us to win a title, that will be very important to me and my club. But I don’t expect it to cast a shadow over anyone else, including you. And just because we’re not winning the title doesn’t mean I’m bothered that you are. Your self importance is a bit bewildering and somewhat overstated. You just don’t cast a shadow over us, or anyone (nor do we, but then we don’t claim to). I go to games all the time and, honestly, nobody is talking about you. We’re too busy talking about us. Which is just how it should be.

And then there’s this whole ‘our cup final’ thing about the actual derby games. It seems to me that you make a a lot of noise about everything to do with Oxford and Swindon except the actual games. I guess that’s because we won both of them this season. It’s still quite odd that you don’t seem to even acknowledge them. I have to say I enjoyed the games immensely this year, particularly the home game, which was epic in every sense from the setting to the nature of our win. And, of course, you played your part magnificently. You surely have to recognise that it was dramatic, even though the result wasn’t one you were looking for.

And what about your claims around our imminent financial meltdown? Where has that come from? Your insults would have more resonance if they had some credibility, perhaps some wit. Instead, you guess and lie and believe stuff that satisfies this odd fantasy that you’ve created in your head. It makes you a bit daft.

You see, Swindon Town, my problem is that we’ve played our games and we’ve moved on. The more you badger on about signing Lee Holmes, or your youth team victories, or beating Dagenham or the fact you’re top of the league, or the shadow you cast, or that you have four stands or the way you put #oufc in your tweets about things which are only vaguely related to us, leads me to but one thought.

I don’t care.

Really, I don’t care.

Seasons are better when we’re together; we’re good for each other because it gives us something to look forward to. Big games are really fun, much better than run-of-the-mill games against anyone else. But the excitement, our rivalry, is about the games. Nothing else. I don’t care about your grandstanding, I don’t care about your league position, I don’t care about your decidedly average achievements, I don’t care about your players, even if they’ve played for us in the past. I have children and a job and a house to renovate, and a blog to write. I don’t really have much time to care about you. I just don’t. And yet, there you are, going on and on and on about how wonderful you are. Your not going to convince me, and if I’m not listening, then you’re talking to yourself. That way madness lies.

I do think your manager is funny, he makes me laugh and I think he’s actually added to the drama this year. I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have the mental stability, loyalty or ability to take you much beyond where you are. But he’s done well and he’s your problem.

You’re going for the title, we’re going for the play-offs. We have different objectives. Your only influence on us now is if you take points off teams around us. If you beat them, which I’m sure you want to, then we’d be very grateful. Perhaps you’ll deliberately lose to them to spite us, but that would be silly. Then again, given that the rivalry appears to centre on everything else BUT the actual games we play against each other, perhaps you will.

Your obsession with us is worrying, you might need help. Is your team not enough for you? Really, we’re flattered by your attention, it’s sweet, but it’s getting a little creepy. You expend so much energy talking about us, I’m beginning to think, well, you really love us. If you didn’t like us, you’d go and do something else, but you don’t. I do suggest you find a hobby or something to fill up the time you currently spend thinking about us, because you’re lovely, but you’re not really my type, thanks.

So, turn around, walk away. Enjoy your season and your club. Clubs like ours don’t enjoy success very often, so you should savour it while you can. I’m sure we’ll meet again, and we can renew the argument about who is best on the pitch. In the meantime, I hope you’re happy in all you do.

Lots of love
Oxblogger

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Oxblogger

Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

9 thoughts on “An open letter to Swindon Town

  1. Oh dear fellow supporter it seems to me that you are the one obsessed with Swindon Town FC & not vice versa. I have been a Town fan for 50 years & have seen many up's & downs along the way, most memorably of course our great League Cup win over the team then known as The Mighty Arsenal. The Macari, Ardiles & Hoddle era was indeed very special & seeing the great Glen Hoddle caress the ball & then hit an inch perfect pass will live with me forever. Your blog started off reasonably well & I thought at last someone with some common sense, but no it followed the same patern as the rest of the rants from both counties. I have no issue with Oxford whatsoever & wish them well. I have listened to your manager & he talks a lot of sense & does a good job within the constraints of his budget.For me the game between our two sides has no more consequence than when we play the Bristol sides or Reading. Over the years I have been to all those away matches, plus going many times to The Old Den at Millwall. I have had friendly banter with all their supporters & have never felt threatened. However the same cannot be said for a large section of Oxford supporters as for some reason which is beyond my comprehension have a real hatred for Swindon & over the years on my visits to Oxford the experience has been extreemely uncomfortable for me & frightening for my wife & I liken it to my previous visits to Wolves & a section of their fans. Therefore I will never be taking my grandchildren to either ground. I condone the terms The Pox & Swindon Scum as it is completely unnecessary & shows a lack of respect towards an opposing team.I do not have rose coloured glasses on when it comes to our manager PDC, but for now we as a teams are playing nice football as we have always done since the days of the great Mike Summerbee & Co, so for now will sit back & enjoy the ride.

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  2. OK, I recognise the apparent anomaly of not caring and writing a long letter about it. This is quite simple. a) I am a blogger and I write things b) I am so bored of my Twitter feed being full of Swindon fans boasting about things which are nothing to do with us and then including #oufc in order to draw our attention to you. I can't get into a reductive argument on every issue, so I just wanted to put it all in one place – hence the length. And point out that most of it means nothing at all. I just want to move onto something else now.I know you're not all the same.

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  3. I cannot help feel your attemat Pragmatism,really highlights the contrary to all you write. It should also be noted that all the negative things you mention about Swindon are equally applicable to Oxford. That football!

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  4. Is a bit strange to write a big blog post telling swindon you don't care about them. It buged me when scumdon sang “we don't care about you” coz they obv did enough to sing a song about it. A bit like this blog. Shame as i like every other one you have done.

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  5. OxbloggerEnjoyed reading that. I thought it was a thoughtful and humorous blog. But it wasn't without its contradictions.The first, and most obvious, of the contradictions is the one pointed out above by Newbury Robin. The very existence of this blog entry is testament to the fact that you [i]are[/i] irritated by the barbs and 'Forever in our shadow' needling by Swindon fans on the internet and have not 'moved on'. While this may not come naturally to you as a blogger, the only way to demonstrate that you really don't care is to look the other way and ignore it. Completely.There is a second, more important, point, however – and that is that you make the mistake of extrapolating views expressed by a relatively small number of Swindon fans on the internet across the whole of the club's fan base. Add together the traffic on twitter.com and other fan specific sites such as thetownend.com and (as you rightly point out, the excellent) thewashbag.com and you will get a snapshot of views and opinions from a cross-section of Swindon's support. But is that cross-section representative of the fan base as a whole? I would argue that it almost certainly is not – because the cross-section is self-selecting. It may be diverse in a number of respects, but all of the contributors writing about (for example) Oxford United have one thing in common…they all have something to say about Oxford United. Those that do not, don't post comments.How many fans contribute regularly to all of these sites? Maybe a couple of hundred. And how many form the fan base as a whole? Take 7,000 regulars and exiles/occasionals numbering several times that number, and you will have several tens of thousands. And this is the important bit. The vast majority of that number care very little for Oxford United, or any other club, other than in the days immediately before and after a game between the clubs.So you can rest easy. The majority of our fans stopped fretting about the defeat at the Kassam approximately 3 days later when we came back to the County Ground and put 4 past Dagenham without reply. When we followed that win up with another against Cheltenham at the weekend, the Oxford defeat was a distant memory. Of course we don't like losing – least of all to a local rival like Oxford – but it's hardly the end of the world…especially with a title very much there for the taking and the prospect of our first cup win for 43 years (to the day, as it happens).Very few of our fans display the 'obsession' that you appear concerned with. Sadly, most of those that do will find an outlet for their obsession on the internet. I am sure this is equally true for both sets of fans.

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  6. An entertaining read Oxblogger. Of course it's contradictory, but its just a bit of fun.I'm seeking out more of these sites to get my online fix as I have felt the need to remove myself from the likes of Twitter and Yellowsforum. This site, and sites like thewashbag offer insight, wit and humour in a way that is very rare on the likes of Twitter. I find my own excesses flamed by the broader social media and I don't think, at least for me, that's a good thing. That's especially true in the case of OUFC vs STFC. I'm extreme enough on that issue without having to provoked by nonsense from Wiltshire (and I know the opposite will be true)and the latest spat has seen me off to calmer and funnier climbs.I think there is definitely a good piece to be written on the negative aspects of social media and football. I certainly and not convinced at all that those two things make for a healthy couple.Keep writing!Thanks

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  7. Thanks for your comments. Especially those who 'got' the point of it. I'm a bit loathed to write any more on this, recognising that it might be construed as more hypocrisy.This was supposed to be a bit partisan and a bit tongue in cheek. I know it's not all Swindon fans and I know that Oxford fans have their moronic moments. I know all this.I know it's a bit long. But it's my blog. I was just something I wanted to say.Thanks.

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