Over 170 Robins players and parents enjoyed a superb day out at the Swindon Town v Yeovil Town game on Saturday 18th April, courtesy of the club's brilliant Pro-Red initiative, of which Robins are a founding member.
All the Robins teams gathered excitedly behind the Town End shortly after 2pm – in a sea of Red & White, but Robins not Swindon Town Red & White! With tickets distributed Robins players, family and friends headed to their seats in the Arkells Stand, excellent seats which gave our young players a great view of the game. As the excitement built, at 2.40pm the Robins players made theirw way down to the pitch to make a parade around the pitch before the teams came out. With the Robins FC banner proudly displayed at the front of the parade, little Ned Drummond of U7 Reds proudly flew the Robins FC flag at the rear, so that everyone in the crowd knew exactly who we were! There's a brief video clip of the players leaving the pitch here
The parade was well received, as the crowd generously applauded the Robins players as they made their way round the pitch, then as the teams came out, a mixed group of U5s/U6s, U9s, U10s and U13s players formed a guard of honour at the tunnel entrance as the STFC and Yeovil Town players took to the pitch. Then we scuttled back to our seats to watch the first half, a half that Swindon had the better of, but couldn't convert their chances!
As half-time approached, the U7 and U8 players made their way to pitch side to prepare for a half-time match on the pitch – plenty of subs meaning that over 20 players were able to get a taste of action on the hallowed turf! The players provided a fantastic advert for what Robins FC are all about with a well-contested match full of enthusiasm, commitment, no shortage of skill and lots of smiles. The players also demonstrated how Robins can deal with anything that is thrown at them when the sprinkler suddenly started up in the middle of the game but they just kept playing their football!! A final lap of honour at the end of the half-time match again drew generous applause from the STFC faithful, as our players left the pitch to ringing chants of "You Reds! You Reds!" from the Town End.There's a brief video clip of the half-time match here and the lap of honour here
While the second half wasn't as good we'd have liked from Swindon's point of view, the Robins contingent kept up their vocal support throughout. The Football in the Community guys commented after the game how even as the crowd were kept quiet by Yeovil's goal, they could still hear the Robins group belting out their support, loud and proud to be Swindon fans and Robins players!
Once the game was over we all headed to Bar 71 for refreshments with an unexpected treat in store! We had a prolonged wait for the STFC players as they were receiving an extended dressing down from Mark Cooper following a disappointing display. So how do you fill time with a roomful of excited young players? With an unscheduled Q&A session with Town legend Jan-Age Fjortoft that’s how!! The players sat listening in rapture as Jan gave up a good 20 mins of his time to tell the Robins players how he came to become a professional footballer, his route to Swindon Town and all the clubs he has played for over the years spanning several countries. When asked what one piece of advice he would give the young Robins players, he summed up Robins' ethos in one simple sentence "Have fun and just enjoy your football"!
As one Town legend departed two current players entered in the form of captain Nathan Thompson and rising star Ben Gladwin. The players put their disappointment at the game's result behing them to enthusiastically answer all the questions put to them and explain their route into professional football. Interesting to hear 6ft 2 Ben Gladwin explain how he was released by Reading aged 13 for being too small! Still far too many English clubs judging players on physical attributes alone - Messi would have been written off before he'd even started if he was English. Ben and Nathan kindly stayed until every last autograph was signed with programmes, shirts and several football boots anointed with the star signatures! Ben and Nathan were also very happy to pose for photographs and were a real credit to themselves and the club.
The day then drew to a close. Great day, great weather, great advert for the club, the chance to meet some stars past and present and the Robins players did themselves and the club proud! Pro-Red is an excellent scheme to introduce youngsters to the excitement of supporting their local team. It's a great way to remind them that football's not just a programme on TV but all the more exciting when you watch it in REAL 3D - live!
There's a gallery of photos from the day on our photos section here.