Oxford United and Swindon Town share an intense rivalry that is equal in intensity to many of the traditional rivalries higher up the footballing ladder. Despite both clubs having been around for a long while, the first competitive game between them was as late as 1965. Since then the two clubs have met 50 times in the league, with Swindon currently holding a far superior record over their rivals, having won 24 games to Oxford’s 14. Since 2000, there have only been seven meetings between the clubs due to the respective decline of the two clubs throughout the 2000s.
As is well known, Oxford United suffered a spell in non-league football between 2006 and 2010, during which time Swindon flitted between Leagues One and Two without pulling up many trees. It wasn’t until a year after Oxford rejoined the Football League in 2010 that the first derby between the clubs for many years was finally played, following Swindon’s relegation from League One under Paul Hart. Despite Swindon ending the season winning the League Two title at a canter under the stewardship of Paolo Di Canio, Oxford did the double over the team from the West Country for the first time in their history. Swindon’s did, however, gain promotion, therefore putting a premature end to league derby games between the two sides.
Luckily for the fans, if not the police, two of the following three seasons saw the two clubs drawn together in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Di Canio was again unable to inspire his side to a win against the Us, and nor was Mark Cooper’s Swindon side.
It has been something of an enjoyable fixture for Oxford fans, who very much hold the local bragging rights. Their club has now gone five games unbeaten against the Robins. Swindon fans can look forward to the opportunity to set the record straight, however, as Oxford finally won promotion from League One in 2015-16, meaning that the derby will finally be revived in the league this season.
Swindon have won two, drawn two and lost one so far in the league, leaving them mid table. Their one loss this season, a 1-3 drubbing away at Chesterfield, was a concerning affair, but since then the club has bounced back to beat a strong Port Vale side and came from behind twice against Peterborough to earn a respectable draw. Both were encouraging results after Swindon left preparations late, making the majority of their new signings on the day before the season began. The signings of Michael Doughty and Lloyd Jones have shown that they are good additions and if the new strikers in the side can find their shooting boots Swindon could be a dangerous prospect at the Kassam Stadium.
Oxford, have won two, drawn one and lost three, and sit just three places and one point behind their rivals, although Swindon do have a game in hand after their game against Bristol Rovers was rained off. Oxford initially struggled, with defeats to Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood Town causing anxiety before an upturn in form after two wins in their next three games suggested that the side has begun to adapt to League One levels. The club brought in a number of new players over the summer which may have affected their early season form as they bedded into their new team.
Swindon’s fans will be desperate to win this game. For one thing, they have suffered enough against their bitterest rivals in recent years and will be itching to set the record straight. Additionally though, it would be nice to get the win in order to bring some cheer to a fanbase that has been hit with needless controversies by their club’s ownership in recent weeks, involving the decision to charge non-season ticket holders full price to watch the rearranged fixture with Bristol Rovers. This matter has divided certain sections of Swindon’s fans, and a win over their local rivals would do wonders to restore some positivity amongst the ranks. For Oxford, another win would propel them further up the table and away from danger, but more importantly it would extend their recent dominance in this fixture to six games and the bragging rights would be well deserved.