Abby Rugg

Name: Abby Rugg
Qualification: Gold Standard NCTJ Multi-Media Journalism Diploma. (Including 100 words-per-minute shorthand)
Employment: Worked at BBC Sport and Deltatre for London 2012.
Future Aim: To work in broadcast/production television.
Blog: Started in November 2011. Published on The Sports Investor and Value Horse Tips. Please comment on a post or follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


Swindon Town 5 - Port Vale 0 

For those who are following me on Twitter, you know already that I watched Swindon play at home against Port Vale in a bid to win League Two.

It was the first football match I had ever attended: my father, who is a Swindon fan, decided to take me a the game to see another side of sports journalism.

As you know I write about horse racing, but as the NCTJ sports journalism exam is 50 per cent football related, I needed to gain experience on writing football commentary.

I wouldn't say that I hate football, but I dislike it. I think there is too much attention surrounding the sport and too much money goes into it.

I believe that other sports should receive the attention football gets, but that's another argument for another blog post.

But experience is experience, and I needed some. We sat in the side stands near the press box and before the 3:00pm kick-off approached, Swindon's mascot, the Rockin' Robin, came on to the pitch and started strutting his stuff.

When I say 'strutting his stuff', I really mean trying to dance but ending up looking daft. Nevertheless, it was the first football mascot I had ever seen and it did bring out a smile.

Swindon had already been promoted from League Two last week but if they won today they would win the League title.

I watched the players from Port Vale and Swindon run on to the pitch with five minutes to go until kick-off and the crowd roared. 

Swindon started okay in the first half: I thought they were nervous as they had a lot riding on the game. Port Vale put up a good fight in defence and even though Paolo Di Canio's team did not attack as well as I anticipated, it was still a good half to watch.

Simon Ferry played well and had a few good attempts at goal. Matt Ritchie also performed well and didn't let his side down.

Ritchie scored the first goal in the first half and what a super goal it was. He powered the ball into the corner of the net and cheers exploded out of the stands.

From that moment on, captain Paul Caddis could see that his team relaxed a little. Swindon grew in confidence and they gained control on the ball. 

The second half was a lot better to watch: Port Vale tried to defend as well as they did in the first half but were unable to keep Swindon's confidence at bay.

I wouldn't say that Port Vale under-performed on the day, but Swindon had a lot to prove in the game and they had more ambition than their rivals to win the match.

Wes Foderingham put up a real fight in his corner. Port Vale had four or five opportunities in the same minute and Wes was kept the opposition's score at nil.

Swindon's Paul Benson scored two wonderful goals, putting Swindon 3-0 up. Now the team had rhythm and Port Vale knew that they would find it difficult to come back from it. 

Aden Flint also scored, giving Swindon a 4-0 advantage. From this moment the Swindon fans began to sing in chorus, knowing that their bid for the title was becoming a reality.

Substitute Alan Connell scored the fabulous fifth and Di Canio, who was standing on the sidelines, saluted the crowd.

When the match ended, the stadium erupted. It was an odd experience for me because I had never witnessed such an explosion.

Swindon won 5-0 and were awarded the trophy on the pitch. The crowd cheered, cried, sang and danced and it was actually quite pleasant to see.

My first football match consisted of a win, a presentation of a trophy, watching a manger salute the crowd, a Rockin' Robin attempting to look good and a delighted crowd.

I still find football exhausting but attending the match on Saturday made me appreciate the sport more than I used to and I will no longer dismiss it immediately. 

I thought that the match would be my last as well as my first, but as we were driving home my father turned to me and said: "Well, as it was a 5-0 win to Swindon you'd be welcome to come again."

Maybe it's his attempt to make me a lover of football rather than horse racing but the latter is my hobby and I'll be happy once I'm back watching Midnight Chase jumping the last at Cheltenham.

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