Craig Easton arrived at The County Ground during the summer of 2007 on a free transfer from Leyton Orient, where he had been popular with the Orient faithful. He was signed by Paul Sturrock, who had managed the midfielder during his time at Dundee United.
Many Town fans had held ‘Eastie’ in high regard due to being a contributing factor behind Oxford United’s relegation into Non-League in 2006.
He made his first appearance for Swindon during the first half of the first Pre-Season friendly at Swindon Supermarine, a 6-2 victory for the Robins.
Easton was an unused substitute for the opening day clash of the 2007/08 season at Northampton Town. Sturrock opted to go for Michael Pook and fellow new signing Steve Adams instead. It was a shakey opening day performance that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Easton made his competitive debut in the Carling Cup against, the then top flight outfit, Charlton Athletic at the County Ground. Easton played the whole 90 minutes as strikes by Darren Ambrose and an Andy Reid penalty gave the visitors a 2-0 victory.
The former Scottish Under-21 international’s League One debut came during Swindon’s first fixture at home against Luton Town, who were much fancied to go back into The Championship at the first attempt. Lee Peacock gave Town the lead before David Edwards levelled for the Hatters. However, with only minutes left Craig Easton struck the winner for Swindon. Easton was expected to start on the bench again but Steve Adams was injured during the pre-match warm-up.
Easton never really looked back as he became the one of the clubs most valuable players during the season. However, Steve Adams never recovered and soon departed the club for Torquay United.
During Easton’s first season at the club, Paul Sturrock left to rejoin Plymouth Argyle and was replaced by fellow Dundee United legend Maurice Malpas.
Malpas used Easton as an extra midfielder in what was then a much debated 4-3½-2½ formation.
Easton played 40 times in the league for Swindon Town and was runner-up to Miguel Comminges for the Swindon Advertiser Player of the Year award. He scored six times – against Luton Town, Walsall, a brace against Huddersfield Town (in a bizarre 3-2 win which saw Easton finis off good work by Anthony McNamee while Lee Peacock and Billy Paynter are sent-off and Town concede two penalties!), Brighton and the one during the 6-0 tonking of Port Vale.
However, despite his solid debut campaign, Easton’s second season was was not a happy one.
Maurice Malpas brought in veteran Frenchman Lilian Nalis from Plymouth while the Town manager also preferred Michael Pook at times.
He scored twice over the season including the equalising goal at Stockport County in September.
By the mid-way point of the season Maurice Malpas was finally sacked for his sides dismal displays and was eventually replaced by Danny Wilson.
Easton suffered a calf injury during Danny Wilson’s first couple of months in charge (missing the whole of February and March) but returned to assist in helping Swindon avoid relegation.
Craig Easton’s third and final season was disappointing for the Scot as he was resigned to playing a bit-part in Town’s Play-Off push. The form of the influential Jonathan Douglas and Simon Ferry meant that both Easton and Michael Timlin acted as cover on the new 7-man bench.
Easton remained actively involved by writing a column for the Swindon Advertiser and could be seen encouraging players while warming-up (especially during the closing stages of the season).
In the 12 league appearances Easton made during the 2009/10 campaign only two were starts – in the 1-1 home draw with Norwich City and the 3-2 win over Brentford at the County Ground.
At the end of the season many thought that Craig Easton would be released by the club but to the surprise of Easton he was offered a new one year deal. However, despite this Craig Easton decided to reject terms and try and find a new club.
Craig Easton had an up-and-down career with Swindon. His best efforts within a mediocre campaign while injury co-incided within a dire team going through another transition which was saved by Danny Wilson. Easton could have walked into many League One sides but was kept out of the Town team by two very good players. The Scottish midfielder could have slapped in a transfer request or gone out on loan but he stayed put and worked hard and was rewarded by getting more game time as the season progressed. At 31 it’s more than understandable why a footballer will want to try and find a club where a first team start is more likely.
VITAL SWINDON WOULD LIKE TO ONCE AGAIN THANK CRAIG EASTON FOR HIS EFFORTS
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