On February 16th 1929, Swindon Town hosted Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal at the County Ground in the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup.
Swindon Town’s prolific centre forward was a feared front man who Chapman (a former Town player) recognised as a player to had to be contained or his side would be dumped out of the competition.
Chapman’s tactic was to instruct his centre half Herbie Roberts to position himself just behind the defensive line. The Sweeper role was created and it worked! Town failed to score that day but still earned a replay but lost 1-0 in London in front of just under 50,000 supporters.
The Arsenal fell at the next hurdle, losing 1-0 at Aston Villa. The Cup was eventually won by Bolton Wanderers.
16/02/1929: SWINDON TOWN 0-0 ARSENAL
S: Ted Nash, Wally Dickenson, Tommy Wylie, David Low, Danny Bew, Bob Archer, Bertie Denyer, Joe Eddleston, Harry Morris, Les Roberts, Alec Thom.
A: Dan Lewis, Tom Parker, Eddie Hapgood, Alf Baker, Herbie Roberts, Bob John, Joe Hulme, David Jack, Jimmy Brain, Harold Peel, Charlie Jones.
A Town legend. He joined from Swansea Town in 1926 and became an insanely good forward for the Robins scoring 47 in 41 during his debut season alone!
In total he scored 215 goals in 260 league games before being shipped off to Clapton Orient.
As a footballer he was a bit of a nomad, playing for over ten clubs in just over a decade. This included a brief spell in Wiltshire with Swindon Town in 1899. He played 3 times – his debut in the 3-2 loss at Bristol City. He scored twice against Chatham Town in his next appearance and Chapman’s final outing coming in the 1-1 draw at Reading. He joined Kent outfit Sheppey United after departing Swindon.
As a coach, Chapman is considered one of the pioneers of the modern game. He managed Northampton Town first and survived the fallout of scandal with Leeds City before finding major success with Huddersfield Town and then with Arsenal.
297 league games for The Arsenal between 1926 and 1937.
He picked up an F.A. Cup winners medal with the Gunners in 1936 – alongside Arsenal legends Cliff Bastin and Ted Drake.
Sadly, Roberts died of illness while serving as a lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers during the Second World War, aged 39.
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