There is no refuting that Swindon is an active town, bursting with sports clubs, activity groups, and leisure centres, plus plenty of green space for runners and cyclists. The town has a proud sporting history across all manner of athletics and games. A love of sport forms an undeniable part of the town’s identity, and we wanted to highlight just a few examples of Swindon’s high-performing teams. Each example has a dedicated following of fans and a budding ametuer scene inspired by the success of local athletes, and perhaps you too might find yourself inspired to take to the pitch or the rink. So, without further ado, here are some of the most dynamic, well-loved, family-friendly sports upon the Swindon scene right now.
Swindon Town F.C.
Where else to start but with football? Swindon Town are currently eyeing a promotion to League One, hovering just above Exeter City at the top of their category. It is an exciting time at the club. Richie Wellens, Swindon Town Manager, has recently explained how spending a season at a well-performing League Two club is more beneficial to a player’s career than joining a League One club that’s resting upon its laurels. “If you end up picking the team or the manager and you improve, you will end up going back up,” he said, in reference to the excellent quality loanees who have gone on to flourish after their time with Swindon. This attitude helps craft a local team striving for challenge and excellence whilst creating an infectious energy for fans both in and out of the stadium.
The Energy Check Country Ground, situated next to Swindon’s infamous Magic Roundabout, has a capacity of fifteen thousand, and is an important landmark within the town centre. Wellens has said that “without the fans, success is impossible”, a philosophy that has formed the basis of the new ‘My Seat’ campaign. A ‘My Seat’ ticket holder is entitled to the whole season’s admittance at a great price, plus other exclusive benefits, and the emphasis has been to encourage fans across all demographics--young and old, men and women, fully abled and disabled-- to form stronger bonds with local football. “It’s about your relationship with the County Ground and the people that you share your Saturdays with,” claims Wellens. Can’t argue there! With an encouraging ethos behind the club’s image and a passion for performance and success, this is a fantastic time for the whole family to fall in love with the beautiful game in Swindon.
Swindon Robins Speedway
You know what’s cool? Speedway is cool. Growling motorbikes churning up the dirt of a racecourse whilst leaving blossoming trails of dust in their wake. It’s awesome. If you’re unfamiliar with this niche motorsport, speedway bikes are designed for intense bursts of acceleration, breakneck speed and precision control. Zooming into action faster than a Formula One racer, speedway bikes tear up the course, skidding into the corners in electrifying displays of power and dexterity. There’s an intensity to the experience that no amount of armchair viewing can replicate; the roar of the engines, the scent of the burning fuel, the serious competition and shared respect between the riders. It comes as no surprise that the Swindon Robins and their home Abbey Stadium are enjoying a surge of popularity.
The meets themselves are typically composed of fifteen races, each consisting of four riders from two teams. The winning rider scores the team three points, second place two, third place one, and nothing but sweet jealousy for the rider in last place. This multiple-racer dynamic makes for an unpredictable experience as the teams jostle for lead position.
What’s more, final approval has been granted for the £5m redevelopment of the Abbey Stadium. Resident concerns over noise have been successfully mitigated and developers are ready to start work. The new stadium will have modernized facilities both for the eager fans and for the professional speedway teams gearing for their next fixture. It shall also host greyhound racing, as has traditionally been the case. With the new stadium due to be completed by the end of 2020, it will soon be the perfect time to get involved with this thrilling competitive sport.
image by Les Aubrey
Swindon Wildcats Ice Hockey
Recalling fondly the times I spent in the Link Centre in West Swindon as a wee lad, I remember seeing plenty of advertising and trophies celebrating the Swindon Wildcats, our local Ice Hockey champions. Currently enjoying a sterling season, nipping at the heels of league frontrunners, the Telford Tigers, the Wildcats offer some of best and most exhilarating sporting performance in Wiltshire.
The team makes a fabulous effort to engage with their fans; players often skid over to the barriers to fist-bump supporters and a few always hang around after the match for greetings and signings. You can even organise a photo with the whole team, or arrange a specially-crafted birthday party, for the young superfan in your life. The Wildcats also run a community outreach scheme named SWITC (Swindon Wildcats In The Community) that advocates for Ice Hockey participation, healthy lifestyles, and personal development. They are a passionate team with strong links in the local sporting scene, and that is repaid in kind by the devotion of their fans. Contact the Better Link Centre for opportunities to get involved, learn to play, and enjoy the latest season of competition on the ice.
The Link Centre, Whitehill Way, West Swindon, SN5 7DL