A couple of years ago I was travelling on a train from Bath towards London with some foreign colleagues who did not know Britain well. We came to Swindon and they asked what sort of town it was. I gave them the usual spiel about the Great Western Railway and the more diversified economy of today which includes Honda.
I refrained from saying that Swindon is one of those towns that one would avoid living in if one could, although housing is cheaper there than it is in some parts of the M4 corridor. I know at least one keen Addick who lives there.
I have had some mixed experiences with Swindon, which have the old Charlton nickname of the Robins. I used to quite enjoy the relatively short trip through the Cotswolds to the County Ground. One year, of course, we got soaked on the open terrace as we sang 'Singing in the Rain' and were acknowledged by that great player Johnnie Robinson. That event has been eclipsed by this year at Yeovil when those who went experienced 'one hell of a soaking'. It merits a commemorative T shirt.
During the season we won the Championship I sponsored the match ball for the match against Swindon who were bottom and, naturally, I invited the Swindon Addick I know. Dean Kiely let in a soft goal and we never scored, leading to a rare home defeat.
The current Swindon team is sponsored by 4-4-2 which leads to some interesting articles in what I think is a good magazine (I must, however, mention When Saturday Comes which recently gave me a Silver Award, although apparently it is just a virtual award). A recent feature was about loan players and I was astonished to learn they were being put up in a hotel in the Cotswolds where I have stayed - but not at my own expense as I doubt whether I could justify the cost. Swindon are not exactly a club flush with cash.
Swindon are on a good run. We lack the suspended Lloyd Sam, the victim of a ridiculous decision by a referee full of his own importance, although he would have got his fifth yellow sooner or later. Despite his inconsistent performances in any one game, he is one of our major attacking threats. Frazer Richardson is 50-50 which means he probably won't play given Monday's match with Brentford. Omozusi isn't as good, but he is better than a lot of people have claimed.
I would play Wagstaff on the right and, rather unconventionally, I would put McKenzie on the left with Luke Holden to replace him when he tired. Burton would be accompanied by Akpo Sodje up front. This would be a very attack oriented formation to take advantage of Swindon's leaky defence. Probably just as well that I don't pick the team.
I am going for a 2-1 win by Swindon. Feisty Philippa Nicholson will be covering the match while I expect to be the only Charlton blogger at Harbury Lane. Why is it that trains run in other countries in Europe on Boxing Day, but to a very limited extent in Britain?