Swindon look for justice

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The Independent Online
IF the Football Association thought their problems with clubs who dislike their decisions had ended with their climbdown over Spurs, then Disgruntled of Wiltshire has some news for them.

Swindon Town of the Endsleigh First Division, denied promotion to the top level in 1990 after they too were caught making irregular payments to players, are considering legal action against the game's rulers. "Although none of the present board was involved with the club in 1990, we feel angry at the decision," their chairman, Ray Hardman, said before yesterday's 2-2 home draw with Tranmere Rovers.

"We estimate demotion cost us £3m and we have instructed our lawyers to take the matter further. In the meantime, we will ask the FA for a meeting.

"We are not ruling out legal action but we are taking things a step at a time. Our main question to the FA must surely be `Why the difference?' We want the FA to look at how the Swindon Town punishment relates to that now received by Tottenham Hotspur and how that decision affects the club, the fans and the community in general."

Meanwhile, disgruntlement too at Ayresome Park, where the First Division leaders, Middlesbrough, were beaten 2-1 by Southend United, only their second away win of the season. Put it down to a hailstorm.

After offering stubborn resistance for most of the first half, the visitors took the lead when Julian Hails swivelled on the edge of the box to shoot into the far corner. Graham Bressington added a second and, although John Hendrie pulled one back, the Shrimpers had netted the points.

Graham Taylor, the Wolves' manager, gave his £600,000 Dutch signing John de Wolf the captaincy before their home match against lowly Notts County. The former Feyenoord centre back, on his 32nd birthday, proved an inspirational leader.

But it was Molineux's old favourite, Steve Bull, who scored the goal that won the game with a right-foot strike from James Smith's cross. It was his eighth goal of the season and lifted Wolves above Tranmere to second place.

Although Taylor did not quite say "Do I like that!" of De Wolf's debut, he did vouchsafe that "to see him play a first game like that was very pleasing. He is a natural leader and his long hair and beard probably hide the fact he is a quality player." Really? "Whether he hit the ball long or short, I can't remember him giving it away very often," Taylor added. Never mind, he'll soon get the hang of it.

In the Second Division, Oxford stayed top after a 1-0 win over Cardiff. But they had their leading scorer, Paul Moody, sent off alongside City striker Garry Thompson. Wycombe finished with 10 men, but came from behind to beat promotion rivals Huddersfield 2-1, thanks to Simon Garner's late winner. Birmingham, 4-0 winners at Chester, stay second.