Swindon Town

Charlie Colkett: How a move to Holland may be the making of the Chelsea midfielder

A Chelsea youth product signing a season-long loan deal at feeder club Vitesse Arnhem is nothing new, but the Dutch club being the making of one of those players just might be.

The love-in between the current Premier League champions and Vitesse of Holland has always been a contentious one, not least because it practically never leads to Chelsea promoting any of the loaned-out kids to the first-team fold.

What Vitesse have managed to do, however, is be the first step, at least, to a more successful career, more often than not, away from Stamford Bridge.

Nemanja Matic, who was one of the first to move to Arnhem in 2010 when the link was first born, is the most, and arguably only notable success of those that remain in west London, but even he was sold to Benfica, and then bought back a few years later.

Patrick van Aanholt have all gone on to establish decent career for himself at the likes of Sunderland and Crystal Palace while Christian Atsu and Bertrand Traore have departed this summer after different successful loan spells at Newcastle and Ajax.

Even Dominic Solanke, who had a decent spell at Vitesse two seasons ago (scoring seven goals in 25 games) got sick of being patient and declined a new contract at Chelsea to move to Premier League rivals Liverpool for a fee pending tribunal.

He wasted no time in showing Chelsea what they might end up missing, as he was named the best player at this summer’s Under-20 World Cup, which England won.

Meanwhile, Charlie Colkett, who captained Chelsea to back-to-back UEFA Youth Leagues (the under-19 Champions League) and back-to-back FA Youth Cups, is already in the process of having to rebuild his career somewhat, at the tender age of 20, after two loan spells in England’s third tier that left an awful lot to be desired.

A loan move to Bristol Rovers did not go quite as planned, with Colkett struggling to really set fire to the Gas, who Colkett admits never suited his playing style anyway. So much so that Chelsea recalled him in January and immediately sent him back out on loan, to West Country rivals Swindon.

Swindon over the past few seasons have garnered a reputation for a passing style of play, or a “footballing background” which Colkett says attracted him to the Robins, but with Town in a perilous position, easing their way down into League Two, Colkett was on a hiding to nothing through little fault of his own.

Irate fans are not going to take easily to a Fancy Dan trickster while getting out-fought and out-thought by Scunthorpe.

However, with Vitesse being a good standard of side – they qualified for the Europa League last season, it should give Colkett more freedom to be, Charlie Colkett.

Off the pitch, in interviews at least, Colkett is painfully shy and rarely answers a question with more than one sentence, but when on grass, all that fades away and, to use a well-worn cliche, he lets his football do the talking.

Even when not having the best of times at Bristol Rovers and Swindon that was more than apparent, with a couple of flicks against MK Dons and Coventry soon lashed into ‘Best Skills’ compilation videos.

In a league such as the Eredivisie, which has always favoured the flashy and the flamboyant, a player such as Colkett should thrive, much like fellow English midfielder Lewis Baker did last season, as he netted 15 goals in all competitions, which made him their second-top scorer last campaign.

Realistically, Colkett will never make the grade at Chelsea but if and when he is sold on for a healthy profit like so many more before him, he could well be looking back at his year in the Netherlands more favourably than the English lower tiers.

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Tim Sherwood and Swindon Town: ‘One of the Biggest Miscalculations the club has ever made’

November 10, 2016. A huddle of journalists are gathered at the ‘Imagine Cruising suite’ – the room where Swindon Town make their significant statements to the press, as opposed to the more ‘cosy’ area for the post-match evaluation.

All they have been told is at that half-past one Swindon will be making a ‘major announcement’. The press officer is eluded to what is about to happen just 10 minutes before the big moment of Tim Sherwood being named as the club’s director of football.

It was not immediately clear then that that would not only be the first time Sherwood addressed the media in person, but the last as well.

Swindon Town are the sort of club you would describe as ‘modest’, if you were trying to appear respectful, but mindful of causing offence to its loyal, but now disenchanted fan base.

Its finest hour came almost 50 years ago, with the 1969 League Cup win over Arsenal, and it has graced the Premier League only once, over two decades ago. They conceded over 100 goals, finished bottom (then 22nd), and got relegated again the season after.

Ever since, they have been trying to get back, without success. This season they got relegated back down to League Two, after escaping it in the spring of 2012.

Like many clubs of its stature, it predominantly prides itself not on league titles, or cup victories (minus 1969 of course), or, nowadays, even derby wins, but on the ‘we made him’ sort of badge of honour you get when a player achieves great things not at your club, but because of said club.

Those, too, are fading now. Even Charlie Austin, the true 21st-Century Swindon Town poster boy, poached from Poole Town in 2009, has had just one call-up to the England squad. He didn’t play.

Managers though are a different kettle of fish. Glenn Hoddle cut his managerial teeth in the West Country, guided the Robins to the Premier League, and went on to manage England, with a stint at Chelsea in the middle.

In 1989, Ossie Ardiles was in the dugout of the County Ground in a red tracksuit winning promotion to the first division with an Argentine blend of tiki-taka, 11 years post-World Cup ticker tape. The promotion shortly became a demotion due to financial irregularities, but as the memories of that sting, the on-the-pitch triumphs do not get forgotten.

Nor do the accolades of other ‘big names’ Lou Macari, Steve McMahon, a certain Paolo Di Canio or the coaching team of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet, who sowed the seeds of a Swindon League Two promotion-winning campaign in 2007, before they upped sticks to Leeds and Paul Sturrock carried on from where they left off.

It was therefore a bold claim when now-chairman Lee Power described the appointment of Sherwood as: “One of the biggest appointments the club has ever made,” which was preceded by him being labelled “one of the top, young English managers.” Not modest statements for this modest club.

Two days after the unveiling, Swindon thrashed Charlton Athletic 3-0 to much fanfare, in front of the Sky Sports cameras. The assorted media stuck around for this post-match press conference at least, but their questions were answered by still-head coach Luke Williams, instead of the man recently given full control of “all football-related matters”, which consists of “transfers, tactics, and training,” as well, it would turn out, team talks.

The wins dried up, Sherwood never turned up, the non-local media stopped coming and Williams was answering press questions and facing fan forum backlash for a team that was no longer his.

If there was one manager you could say is no stranger to the cult following social media brings, Sherwood might be it. His Jack-the-Lad persona that saw him reach Vine ‘fame’ for throwing his trademark Gilet and kicking door-opening buttons was only exacerbated when the ‘Director of Football’ began an FA Cup first-round replay against Eastleigh in the stands and ended it in the dugout. The first, and only, time he did so.

The BBC pondered: “Does Tim Sherwood manage the Robins or not?” while JOE declared that: “Tim Sherwood has gone full Football Manager at Swindon Town.” The second jibe became remarkably literal in February.

Not managing actual football teams of course.

With Swindon hovering just above the relegation zone, reeling from a 1-0 loss at local rivals Bristol Rovers and in the middle of what would turn out to be a five-match losing streak, Sherwood appeared – doing a Q&A, not for the media, but for Squawka in a promotion for the computer game, Football Manager.

Four days later Swindon had, and lost, another derby – against Oxford. Sherwood was absent. Power told TalkSPORT on Valentine’s Day, no less, that firstly Sherwood’s hiring was “one million per cent an old pals act” and then revealed that Sherwood was not at the Oxford match as he was doing some “football business for that club” that could only be done on that day.

That was after Town fans had twigged that Sherwood’s birthday was the day after the Oxford game.

Williams was put back in charge of on-pitch activity but Sherwood was back in the stands for the trip to Bury the week after. That was until half-time, when Sherwood launched into a tirade at the referee, calling him a f****** mug for awarding the Shakers a penalty.

On February 23, he was slapped with a two-game stadium ban for his comments. Swindon won both of those games. The first time they achieved back-to-back victories in over a year.

He was back for the home game against Chesterfield. Swindon lost. The Robins didn’t win again until a home match against Millwall, 1-0. Sherwood stayed away from that one. Maybe if he stayed away every week Swindon would have survived.

Alas, they were relegated, which confined Swindon’s to next season’s League Two and, on June 14, just over seven months after arriving, Sherwood’s departure was confirmed.

“Tim’s gone.” Those were the cold words of Power on a hot summer’s day in Swindon at the introductory press conference for the club’s new manager, David Flitcroft. No clouds were in sight that day, not even the biggest one in the club’s recent history.

 

 

Kasim thanks fans after winning Swindon Town poll

Yaser Kasim has lavished praise on his fans after he was voted Swindon Town’s greatest player of the 21st Century in a recent poll by BenjaminWillsBlog.

“It’s a great achievement, I personally want to win football games rather than awards but I’m thankful for all the people that voted and thankful that the Swindon fans have taken me to their heart.”

The Iraq International, 23, has made a huge impact in Swindon since he arrived from Brighton and Hove Albion on a free transfer last summer.

So much so that he captained the side in a 1-1 draw against Coventry City on August 30 2014 due to regular skipper Nathan Thompson missing the game through suspension – becoming the first Iraqi to do so in English professional football.

“Yes, very much so! (This is a proud honour for me), considering I’ve only been here for a year. I’m particularly proud of the team right now also and enjoying the football a lot.”

A huge contingent of Kasim’s votes came from his native Iraq and the midfielder described his loyal fan base in glowing terms.

“They are a big part of why I want to achieve so much with the national team. Their love for their own is beautiful.”

Iraq are set to play in the Asia Cup in January 2015, something Kasim is “very much” looking forward to but his feet are firmly on the ground.

“It’s all about preparation. We still have a month and a bit to go”.

The competition may see Kasim line up against tournament hosts Australia where club team mate Massimo Luongo plays his International football.

“It would be weird to play against him but would be fun at the same time. It might be very exciting!”

Kasim’s Iraq will contest Group D with Japan, Jordan and Palestine while Luongo’s Socceroos are joined in Group A by South Korea, Oman and Kuwait.

The Asia Cup is played from the 9-31 January which means the pair will miss a maximum of four Swindon matches (Coventry away, Chesterfield home, Bradford City home and Sheffield United away).

 

Who have you voted Swindon Town’s greatest player of the 21st Century?

Relegation, Promotion and the threat of Administration, twice. The 21st Century has not been a boring one for Swindon Town fans but while 2000 onwards will be best remembered so far for Wembley heartbreak, more Wembley heartbreak, Paul Hart and Paolo Di Canio, who have been the players that put smiles on Swindon folks’ faces?

10) Paul Caddis: One of only eight players who stayed at Swindon following the side’s relegation from League One in 2011, Caddis was given the task of leading the club back from whence they came after taking over as captain from Oliver Risser that October.

His consistent high performances during that campaign were rewarded with a League Two winner’s medal and a spot in the League Two Team of the Year. He only missed seven league games, scoring four goals in those 39.

That season, and Caddis’ Swindon career, would end on a sour note though. Di Canio reportedly stripped Caddis as captain due to a “change of attitude” in the Scot.

Di Canio told BBC Wiltshire: “He’s not the same player, not the same attitude, so it’s time to make the decision,”

“Now is the moment to change and send an important signal to everybody because Di Canio is the same.”

“If he wants to jump again he has to not only come back as he was last year but better because my demands are higher this year.

“If I had the same Caddis as last year it would already be a good base because there was availability and desire to improve.

“They have to follow me. And if they don’t want to follow me then they are out.”

It was a sad end to a story that looked liked it had plenty more chapters to come and duly Caddis is showing what Town are missing out on as he continues to impress in the Championship for Birmingham.

Paul and Paolo during happier times

Paul and Paolo during happier times

9) Alex Pritchard: Out of the four loan signings from Tottenham in the 2013/14 season (a further two joining permanently), one young Hotspur stood out from the crowd. So much so that on Tottenham’s first game since Pritchard’s return to North London he was named on the bench away to West Ham.

Voted the second best player in League One and short-listed for the Football League Young Player of the Year Award, the tiny midfielder certainly made a huge impact during his short Swindon spell.

The five foot six inch winger ended his time in Wiltshire with six goals in the league to his name, one of them being a fantastic free-kick away to MK Dons on the Sky Sports cameras and arguably an even better one during a visit at Port Vale, it is something he is fast picking up a reputation for.

He also pitched in with 13 assists over the course of the campaign showing how vital he was in his one season.

Pritchard’s tenure at the County Ground was a brief one but he will be fondly remembered by Swindon supporters.

8) Massimo Luongo: Swindon’s Australian asset Luongo has come on leaps and bounds since his 2013 Summer transfer when he joined for what now looks like a bargain at £400,000.

Luongo initially arrived at the County Ground in March of the same year, signing on loan until the end of the season, scoring two goals in five games, firstly in a 4-1 home win over Crewe Alexandra and then the opener against Brentford in the first leg of the Play-off Semi Final.

Since his permanent swtich, Luongo has established himself as one of Town’s key men, forming a formidable part in the heart of the Robins’ midfield with Yaser Kasim and Louis Thompson.

The Socceroos starlet represented Swindon on the International stage in June of this year, becoming the third player in the club’s history to go to a World Cup while contracted at the County Ground. Alan McLoughlin for Ireland in 1990 and Jan Aage Fjortoft for Norway in 1994 are the other two.

Sadly he didn’t feature in any of Australia’s three games (all of which they lost) in Brazil but regardless, the future looks bright for the 22-year-old.

ML PO Goal

7) Nathan Thompson: Only Fraser Digby (twice) and Shaun Taylor join Nathan Thompson in the short list of players that have won back to back Player of the Year awards, something the current Swindon captain is very proud of.

Speaking to BenjaminWills’Blog Thompson announced:

“What makes this award so special is that it’s voted for by the fans, and each game I try to give 100% for them and the club, so to be recognised in this way is very humbling indeed.

“It goes without saying I’m immensely proud to captain a club that I’ve been at not just for my professional career, but for my Centre of Excellence years and youth development too. I take the role extremely seriously – working hard to ensure the team morale is high – so that this team gives back to the fans and the club.”

Youth product Thompson contributed two assists in his debut season as Swindon skipper as Town finished 8th in League One and at the time of writing has led a team with an average age of 22 to the play-off spots in League One.

Rockin' Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

Rockin’ Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

6) Wes Foderingham: Touted by many as the best Goalkeeper Swindon have had since Fraser Digby, Foderingham has been something of a revelation since he arrived on loan from Crystal Palace in October 2011.

A relative unknown quantity, Foderingham had only previously had spells at Conference North and South sides Boreham Wood, Histon and Bromley before being thrust into the line up of a side expected to win League Two.

Foderingham was calmness personified however, marking his first Football League appearance with a clean sheet in a 0-2 win at Accrington Stanley.

Four more games would pass without Foderingham’s goal being troubled, and the England Under-19 International would become the first Swindon custodian to keep five clean sheets in his first five home matches (Gillingham, Bradford City, Aldershot Town, Morecambe and AFC Wimbledon).

Another two would follow in games at home to Macclesfield Town and Crawley Town. If Shrewsbury didn’t breach his goal, he would have broken a Swindon clean sheet record that stretches back to the days of a certain Mr.Digby.

5) Matt Ritchie: Out of all the players featured in this list, Matt Ritchie is the most successful in terms of personal accolades earned during his tenure at the club.

Swindon’s triumphant League Two title winning campaign of 2011/12 saw 39 players in total make league appearances in some way shape or form but Ritchie at times made it look like a one man operation.

Alan McCormack would be awarded Player of the Year that season but Ritchie would be given everything else, being named in the League Two team of the year and League Two player of the year itself, not forgetting.

One more honour would follow – Swindon Town’s Goal of the Season, for his rasping long range effort in the 2-0 home win over Gillingham.

The following season he picked up the League One Player of the Year award as Swindon finished fifth in their first season back in League One, however Ritchie departed the County Ground for Bournemouth in January for what was pittance fee £500,000 considering Paolo Di Canio once valued him at £10 million.

4) Sam Parkin: Su-per, Super Sam, Su-per, Super Sam, Su-per. Super Sam, Super Sammy Parkin! It is no surprise the Chelsea youth graduate features highly on this list, but what is a surprise is the impact he made at SN1.

Only 11 goals in 64 games in four loan spells at Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers, Oldham Athletic and Northampton Town over two years saw him sold by his Premier League club and snapped up by maverick manager Andy King.

Paltry Parkin became potent Parkin in no time at all, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Barnsley on the opening day and ended the season with 26 goals in 48 games (all competitions) overall as Swindon finished 10th in the old Division Two.

The 2003/04 season would see less goals for Parkin, 19 in 40, but Swindon would enjoy a higher league position, finishing fifth only to lose to Brighton in the Play-offs.

Mid table mediocrity would rear its ugly head once again the following campaign but 23 goals in 41 games did give the Town faithful something to smile about anyway. 73 goals in 124 games makes ‘Super Sam’ Swindon’s top scorer in the 21st Century so far.

3) Charlie Austin: Very much the poster boy of Swindon Town in the 21st Century, Charlie Austin joined the club from non league Poole Town in 2009  after Bournemouth were denied the striker due to a transfer embargo.

He made an instant impact at Town, scoring three minutes into his debut start away at Carlisle in November and then netting a 58th minute winner in a 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town in his County Ground bow.

Another 18 more would follow and Austin finished the  2009/10 season on 20 goals, it could have been one more if it wasn’t for that Wembley bobble but the less said about that the better.

Austin formed a formidable partnership with Billy Paynter, the pair providing 56 goals between them but Paynter’s departure to Leeds during the Summer did not hamper Austin.

The then 21-year-old scored 12 in 25 in the 2010/11 season and despite his January move to Burnley, he finished Swindon’s top scorer that season as the Robins were relegated to League Two.

2) Simon Cox: As this list proves, Swindon have had somewhat of a penchant for a gifted striker this past decade and Cox was arguably the best of the bunch.

He may have failed to make an impact in the Premier League, unlike Charlie Austin for example, but 48 goals in games makes him Town’s 30th top scorer of all time.

Cox signed for Swindon on January 31 2008 after initially impressing during a loan spell earlier on in the season, netting eight in 19 and he finished with 14 in 36.

What stands Cox ahead of the likes of Austin and Parkin in the eyes of many is his ability to seemingly score from everywhere.

Famous volleys such as his pre-season strike in Fenerbache and another one closer to home against Walsall are still fresh in the memory and go some way into indicating why he was voted Swindon’s Player of the Year in the 2008/09 season.

1) Yaser Kasim: The Iraqi Xavi or the Iraqi Pirlo, whatever your preference there is no denying the talent of the player plucked from obscurity.

Kasim, a man who saw first team chances at Conference Premier side Macclesfield Town limited, took like a duck to water two tiers up when he was signed by Mark Cooper last Summer.

His rise has not gone unnoticed, bizarrely after impressing in a 0-2 League Cup win at Queens Park Rangers, Harry Redknapp reportedly enquired about taking his services to Loftus Road just two months after he signed the dotted line at the County Ground.

The baller from Baghdad has become a lynch pin in the heart of Swindon midfield, dictating play and contributing four assists and two goals along the way.

He has made continued in the same vain this campaign and has two assists and two goals so far to his name.

Swindon fans and staff will be hoping he isn’t missed too much when he departs for the Asia Cup in January with Iraq.

 

Swindon Town have found their ideal captain in Nathan Thompson

At 23-years-old, Nathan Thompson is the second youngest captain in League One leading the youngest side in the division, Swindon Town – a team with an average age of just 22, but while experience at the County Ground may be low, the ambitions are high.

“I look at the talent and potential we have in our team and I think the Championship is where we belong”, Thompson insists.

“The ethos of football we play is different to any team in League One, and arguably the Championship and Premier League too. In my opinion it is the way ‘the beautiful game’ should be played and, when we are in form, the opposition can’t compete with us.”

It is big talk from the sprightly Swindon skipper who seems completely unfazed at the task of captaining such a youthful side.

“The fact I’m the longest serving player (at the club) helped me take to the role and my team mates have been extremely supportive of me, so I’m grateful they’ve helped make the transition a smooth one”.

His team mates may well be the secret to his success but it was Thompson that took the plaudits after Town’s 0-3 win at Chesterfield last Tuesday night.

Swindon’s two games previous had ended in a 2-3 loss and a 2-2 draw on their own patch to Rochdale and Colchester respectively in what were disappointing results considering the Robins were the fourth best team at home in League One last season.

Thompson missed those two games due to a suspension but his return match ended with Swindon securing their first clean sheet since September 27 where they beat Barnsley by the same score at Oakwell.

This is even more impressive given the fact that Thompson is now playing a sweeper role in a three man defence instead of his favoured full-back position.

Nathan Byrne, arguably Town’s stand out performer so far this season, is occupying Thompson’s right wing-back spot while the left has been covered by former loanee from Liverpool Brad Smith and now Amari’i Bell who has joined temporarily from Birmingham City.

“Throughout pre season I trained in the wing-back position and I only switched to centre back a couple of training sessions before our first game”, Town’s back-to-back Player of the Year explains.

“It was a shock but I didn’t have time to dwell on it – which I think has helped me. As time’s gone on and I’m learning more about the position, my confidence has grown and I enjoy the new role I play during games”.

This attitude is a testament to Thompson’s character who genuinely gives his all for the club he has been at since the age of 12.

When asked how he felt about being awarded Swindon’s Player of the Year award for two years running he responded:

“What makes this award so special is that it’s voted for by the fans, and each game I try to give 100% for them and the club, so to be recognised in this way is very humbling indeed.

Top of the Tree: Rockin' Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

Top of the Tree: Rockin’ Robin Thompson with the first of his Player of the Year awards

“It goes without saying I’m immensely proud to captain a club that I’ve been at not just for my professional career, but for my Centre of Excellence years and youth development too. I take the role extremely seriously – working hard to ensure the team morale is high – so that this team gives back to the fans and the club.”

Giving back, as he puts it, is clearly very much at the forefront of the man’s mind as he is also an ambassador for the girls’ Centre of Excellence as he “feel(s) it’s important to show them I was in a similar position once, and with perseverance they could be in my boots one day too”.

Said perseverance and more importantly hard work have reaped the awards for “Thommo”, something he did not forget as he recalled the time he first put pen to paper on a professional deal for the Wiltshire side in 2009.

“When I think back to to when I first signed my professional deal this club had a very different ethos in developing young players. The average age of the first team was around 26 and not many players remained at the club past their scholar.

“While there were occasions of concern and anxiety (that he would never get his chance at Swindon), I had a very strong support network around me and that helped me to keep focused and determined to break into the Swindon Town first team.

Interest from Premier League teams Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur around that time did not distract him either.

“One thing I have learned is to keep attention focused on my game and, at that point in particular, leave off-field discussions to my parents and third parties.

“It’s often seen where youngsters leave lower league teams to join top flight clubs and too often it’s unsuccessful. Therefore, while it’s always flattering to have interest from these sorts of clubs, the last thing I wanted to do was get carried away so I was committed to establishing myself at Swindon.”

That sort of attitude will be music to the ears of many a Swindon Town fan I’m sure. The future of SN1 is in a safe pair of feet with Nathan Thompson with a wise and selfless head on those young shoulders too.

Follow me on Twitter: @BenjaminWillsSJ

Vote for me in the Football Blogging Awards: http://www.footballbloggingawards.co.uk/about/categories/best-young-football-blogger/

Feature: The rise and rise of Charlie Austin

Charlie Austin’s first Premier League goal was not like most others this weekend, his strike against Sunderland symbolized how far the striker has come in the last five years.

Austin, now 25, is a million miles away from the life he had at Poole Town in 2009 where he played in front of just 200 people. At QPR’s Loftus Road he is strutting his stuff to a loyal London crowd of 20,000, when Manchester United away comes around, that amount will quadruple to 80,000.

It was humble beginnings for Austin, released by Reading in 2004 for being too short he was out the game for three years before joining Berkshire based Kintbury Rangers in England’s 10th tier where he netted 20 goals in 27 games in his one season at the club.

A move to hometown side Hungerford Town followed but this spell was less fruitful, Austin found the net just five times in his 30 games there.

He relocated to Bournemouth after his unsuccessful season at Hungerford and joined Poole Town where he scored 48 goals in 42 games over the space of a season and a half whilst being a bricklayer as the day job.

Building for the future: Bricklayer Austin scores for Poole

Building for the future: Bricklayer Austin scores for Poole

Bournemouth themselves, then in League Two, tried to sign Austin in the 2009/10 season after the striker’s successful trial at Dean Court but a transfer embargo put an end to that transfer.

Shortly after, Swindon Town a division up offered Austin a trial after Swindon chief scout Ken Ryder “stumbled across Charlie (Austin) playing for Poole Town…and he scored four goals…and then the following week he scored three or four”.  Austin scored a hat-trick against Swansea reserves and was snapped up immediately.

His Football League debut came at Carrow Road, coming on as a 70th minute substitute against Norwich City where he did not score but the wait was not long, his first goal coming in his first start away at Carlisle United after just three minutes.

Goal number two came soon after, in his home debut three days later, nabbing a 59th minute winner against Huddersfield Town.

During his time at Swindon, Austin forged a superb working relationship with Billy Paynter. They played together once for the reserves against the Reading equivalent and both scored two. League One’s finest strike partnership was born.

Paynter ended the season second top scorer in League One with 26 goals behind a certain Rickie Lambert on 30 while Austin himself grabbed 20.

Swindon reached the play-off final that year, losing 0-1 to Millwall at Wembley, it might have been different had the cruel turf at England’s national stadium not prevented Austin with a goal, the ball bobbling before Austin could pull the trigger leading to an uncharacteristic miss.

He did score in the first leg of the semi final against Charlton Athletic however.

Rocking Robin: Austin during his breakthrough Swindon years

Rocking Robin: Austin during his breakthrough Swindon years

The following season was a more frustrating one for Austin, suffering a dislocated shoulder in September but when back on the pitch, goals duly followed, 12 of them in fact which led to him joining Burnley in January after he failed to agree personal terms with Ipswich Town.

Former club Swindon were relegated and despite Austin’s January departure, he remained their top scorer that season.

Burnley beginnings were tough for Austin, a relapse of his earlier shoulder injury dampened his start, playing just four games in the remainder of the season, scoring zero.

It was business as usual the next season though, scoring 16 goals and finishing at the top of the team’s scoring charts.

In his third term at Turf Moor Austin became a club record breaker. A brace against Bristol City saw him equal Ray Pointer’s 1958 club record of scoring in eight consecutive appearances and a fortnight later Austin became the quickest Claret to reach 20 goals in a season and ended the campaign with 25.

Austin is of course now a Premier League player but the top flight have been calling since last summer. Hull City had a bid accepted from Burnley but Austin failed his medical and instead joined QPR for £4 million.

Once again Austin was the top marksman for a club, scoring 17 in 31 as QPR were promoted back to the Premiership at the first time of asking via the play-offs.

If he can adapt to the play of the Premier League in the same ilk as he has done with League One and the Championship then Austin may well be in with a shot of making the England team.

Big time Charlie: Austin will relish Premier League life

Big time Charlie: Austin will relish Premier League life

Lambert has made the step from League One to England national team and Austin is six years younger than his former third tier counterpart.

The world is at Charlie Austin’s feet, and his feet have treated him well so far.

 

2014/15 League 1 Prediction

1) Bristol City
——————————————–
2) Sheffield United
——————————————–
3) Barnsley
4) Preston North End
5) Peterborough United
6) Doncaster Rovers
——————————————–
7) Leyton Orient
8) Swindon Town
9) Yeovil Town
10) MK Dons
11) Notts County
12) Chesterfield
13) Bradford City
14) Fleetwood Town
15) Coventry City
16) Scunthorpe United
17) Port Vale
18) Rochdale
19) Walsall
20) Gillingham
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21) Crawley Town
22) Oldham Athletic
23) Colchester United
24) Crewe Alexandra

Brentford sign Alex Pritchard on loan

Championship side Brentford have confirmed that Alex Pritchard will spend the 2014/15 season at Griffin Park on a season-long loan deal.

The promising English winger, 21, spent last season on loan at Brentford’s then League One rivals Swindon Town where he scored six goals in 35 league games.

Pritchard also netted in a Capital One Cup tie away at Queens Park Rangers where Swindon ran out 0-2 winners.

Cup King: Pritchard celebrates his goal against QPR.

Cup King: Pritchard celebrates his goal against QPR.

Brentford’s new signing has also earned three caps for the England Under 20 side, two of which came in the 2013 Under 20 World Cup but England failed to make it past the group stages.

Tottenham winger Pritchard has also signed a two year contract extension that will keep him at White Hart Lane until 2016.

Pritchard made his Tottenham debut in the club’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa, coming on as an 83rd minute substitute.

Stephens could be set for Swindon return – Chairman Power

Lee Power, chairman of League One side Swindon Town, has confirmed that the club are trying to get Southampton defender Jack Stephens to return to Wiltshire.

Stephens, 20, impressed during his brief loan spell at the County Ground towards the end of last season making ten appearances as the Robins finished eighth.

He is yet to make a senior appearance for Southampton since he arrived at St Mary’s from Plymouth Argyle in 2011.

The centre back is only expected to be returning to the County Ground on loan.

Power is keen to set up an affiliation with the Saints as Swindon’s partnership with Tottenham Hotspur has ended following the dismissal of Tim Sherwood who is closely connected to the Swindon owner.

Swindon and Southampton are set to meet in a friendly on July 21st and more members of the Premier League side’s academy could be set for a brief stint in Swindon in the near future.

Top 10: Best young League 1 players

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10: Dele Alli (MK Dons)

The first, and youngest, member of this top 10 list, Bamidele Jermaine (Dele) Alli is a real star in the making. A third tier regular at the tender age of 18 (having been 17 for the majority of the season), making 26 appearances for Milton Keynes this season and scoring six goals in the league along with two assists does not go unnoticed.

Those six goals makes him the third highest goalscorer at Stadium:MK and his impact would have both surprised and delighted his boss Karl Robinson who is a young Manager himself.

Alli has already got International recognition, with nine England Under 17 caps to his name.

Despite being so young, Alli has already scored his first senior hat-trick in a 1-3 away win at Notts County.

“He’s one of the most gifted 17-year-olds this country has ever seen” Robinson announced at the final whistle. High praise indeed.

9: Luke Freeman (Stevenage)

Stevenage’s go to man for success is former Arsenal man Luke Freeman.

The 22 year old winger is the Boro’s third leading scorer with six strikes and the club’s main provider with a further six assists. Freeman sadly couldn’t save Stevenage from the drop back down to League 2 but without him the Hertfordshire club would not have been as close to survival as they were.

Dartford born danger man Freedman is attracting attention from clubs in the higher divisions and following Stevenage’s relegation, it seems even more unlikely that he will stay at Broadhill Way.

8: Matt Tootle (Crewe) 

It would not be a list of young talents in League 1 without a Crewe player, would it? The Alex’s esteemed youth academy that has developed talents such as Leeds United’s Luke Murphy, Dean Ashton, Nicky Maynard and most notably Manchester United’s Nick Powell, has found another gem in Matt Tootle.

A Crewe regular since 2009, the 23-year-old has already notched up over 150 games for the Gresty Road club and has been an ever present, not missing a single game as the Railway Men avoided relegation from League 1 for a second successive year.

If Tootle keeps this sort of form up, don’t be surprised if the latest export from Alex’s Academy goes on to bigger and better things like many before him.

7: Harry Maguire (Sheffield United)

In a season that has seen Sheffield United perform well below what they are capable of, Jacob Harry Maguire has been a rare consistent performer at the back and was one of the key men during the second half revival under new boss Nigel Clough.

Thanks to Clough and also to Maguire’s performances at the heart of the Sheffield defence, the Blades soared from relegation fears to finish just one place outside the play offs in 7th along with an FA Cup run that would see them eliminated 5-3 by Hull in the Semi Finals.

Maguire has been a key figure at Bramall Lane since 2011, missing only nine league games in the last three seasons as Sheffield United seek to return to the Championship after three disappointing seasons in League 1.

With an ever improving Maguire, next year might just be their year.

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6: Nouha Dicko (Wolves)

11 August 2013 and Nouha Dicko comes on as an 86th minute substitute for James McCarthy at Wembley as Wigan go down 2-0 to Manchester United in the Community Shield. Fast forward eight months and he’s at Wolves in League 1.

Dicko had spent a brief loan spell in Wolverhampton last season, four appearances, all off the bench, one goal. Not enough as Wolves found themselves in the third division having been in the top flight two years previous.

Five goals in five goals for Rotherham United from November to January was all it needed to convince Kenny Jackett to bring Dicko back to the Midlands and the Frenchman’s goal scoring form has not slowed down with him netting 12 in 19 for Wolves as they powered to the League 1 title.

The winger/striker, who is also eligible to play for the Mali international team scored two goals on his return debut at Molineux, a 3-1 home victory over Bristol City while he also grabbed a hat-trick in a 6-4 win over Rotherham, showing no love for his former club.

21 year old Dicko finished the season as Wolves’ second top scorer, with only one behind Bakary Sako on 13. Not bad for a bloke who only joined in January. Wigan could yet rue letting this boy go.

5: Moses Odubajo (Leyton Orient)

Arguably the division’s surprise packages this season, Leyton Orient have sealed themselves a play off spot thanks to a number of quality performances from their young squad.

None more so than from 20-year-old midfielder Moses Adubajo. The Leyton Orient club graduate scored 10 goals from midfield this season and added six assists to his season tally.

Premier League clubs have been alerted to the goal scoring midfielder’s achievements with Tottenham among the clubs reportedly after his signature this Summer and if Russell Slade’s side fail to cross the promotion line then it may be difficult to keep hold of Odubajo.

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4: Callum Wilson (Coventry)

Few would have predicted how much of an impact Callum Wilson would make this season following a poor showing this time last year. His total of one goal in 11 last season became 21 in 36 after just a year.

Wilson enjoyed a prolific partnership with Leon Clarke in the first half of this campaign but while Clarke’s goals dried up as he switched Midlands allegiances, Wilson continued to flourish.

21 goals makes Wilson the joint third top scorer with Rotherham’s Kieran Agard, some achievement for a man who missed ten games and being part of a side with -10 points at the start of the season. On top of that, every match being theoretically an away trip with Coventry playing their “home” games 33 miles away at Sixfields in Northampton.

Coventry finished the season in a very respectable position of 18th considering their points deduction and small squad, in addition to losing Clarke midway through the season. Without Wilson, it could well have been a very different outcome.

3: Britt Assombalonga (Peterborough)

Powerful striker Britt Assombalonga has proved to be the signing of the season in League 1 this term. A relative risk by Darren Ferguson to sign him as the Zaire forward had never played third tier football, and had never scored for Championship Watford (playing five games).

Five goals in five for Conference side Braintree Town in 2011/12 and 15 in 43 for League 2 Southend the following season though was enough to convince Ferguson Jnr to snap up Assombalonga for a club record fee, which is unknown, but the 21-year-old proved he was worth his weight in goals, notching 23 in 40 games.

He would turn out to be a villain to Swindon fans, first netting on his Posh debut at London Road in a 1-0 win over the Reds and then leveling the scores in the JPT second leg to force the tie into penalties. Peterborough won to book a spot at Wembley.

Assombalonga would keep up his JPT scoring habits, slotting home a penalty in Posh’s 1-3 win over Chesterfield to win the competition for the first time in their history.

The former Watford man will be looking to show the Hornets what they have let go next season with Peterborough looking to bounce back to the Championship at the first attempt via the play offs. Should Posh earn promotion, they have a certain Ferguson risk to thank.

2: Alex Pritchard (Swindon)

Out of the four loan signings from Tottenham (a further two joining permanently), one young Hotspur stood out from the crowd. So much so that on Tottenham’s first game since Pritchard’s return to North London he was named on the bench away to West Ham.

Voted the second best player in League 1 and short-listed for the football league young player of the year award, the tiny midfielder clearly has a huge future ahead of him.

The 5 foot 6 inch winger ended his time in Wiltshire with six goals to his name, one of them being a fantastic free-kick away to MK Dons, something he is fast picking up a reputation for.

Pritchard may find himself back out on loan next season, quite probably a division or more up from this term with QPR reportedly keen on him but the 21 year old has expressed his desire to prove himself at Tottenham after signing a two year contract  in January last year to quash interest from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

One thing is for sure is that he will be fondly remembered by Swindon supporters and the feeling is mutual. Pritchard calling this “the best season of my career”. Hopefully many more to come for the England Under 20 International.

1: Adam Forshaw (Brentford)

League 1’s player of the year, Adam Forshaw has been exceptional in the Red and White of Brentford, contributing eight goals and four assists from the centre of midfield as the Bees recovered from the sting of losing out on promotion on the final day of last season.

Brentford also had to show mental toughness to bounce back after then suffering more heartbreak that season, losing the play off final to Yeovil.

The Griffin Park faithful finally saw their side gain promotion to the Championship thanks largely to Forshaw’s performances and Manager Mark Warburton keeping the ship steady midway through the season following Uwe Rosler’s departure to Wigan in early December.

Everton reserve player of the year 2012 Forshaw, 22, was linked with a move out of West London in January but committed his future to Brentford stating “My aim is to get promoted with Brentford. I’m really enjoying it here.

“I feel I’m gaining a lot of experience playing regularly. Last year was a massive learning curve for me.”

Bees fans will be hoping Forshaw shys away from speculation for a second successive season in the Summer and stays on at Brentford with the club looking to establish itself as a Championship side.

Forshaw will very much be key to any chances of that.

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