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Swindon fan Nick Judd on a rapid elevation which has raised hopes
It’s been fairytale stuff in Swindon this week.
The town was chosen to be DisneyWorld’s first twin town in it’s 38-year-old history (cue gags about us being a Mickey Mouse club, or our season being a rollercoaster ride) while new signing Charlie Austin is reflecting on a remarkable three weeks that have seen him become the stuff of legend.
The 21-year-old joined us from Poole Town in October after spending five months combining part-time football with getting up at 5.30 in the morning and working for his dad on the building sites of Basingstoke, Reading and Swindon.
He’d started his football career for Thatcham and Hungerford and joined the Dolphins in 2007 when his family moved to Bournemouth.
In 2008/09 he scored 46 goals in 46 games, followed by 18 in the first two months of this season.
Naturally, this attracted the interest of the nearby Cherries – and Swindon boss Danny Wilson.
Cash-strapped Bournemouth were prevented from signing him as a result of their transfer embargo, and their loss has been our gain.
Wilson took a punt on the youngster in a 'gamble' he hoped would unearth a 'nugget'.
I’d say Wilson’s truly struck gold.
In his first league start, despite not scoring, Austin did more in 20 minutes in our 1-0 defeat away at Norwich than the rest of the team had managed in the previous 70.
Eleven days later, he scored the winner away at Carlisle, followed quickly by the winner against Huddersfield and then the two deciding goals that saw off Leyton Orient on Saturday.
Suffice to say he’s quite popular in SN1.
“We seem to be blending well,” strike-partner Billy Paynter told the Swindon Evening Advertiser.
“Charlie is Mr Johnny-on-the-spot, he’s been tremendous. His story is what dreams are made of. He works hard and he’s very honest, and he’s reaping the rewards and getting the goals.”
It’s Austin’s hard work, more than his goals, that strikes a chord with most fans.
Even before he made his first team debut, Wilson told us that Austin hadn’t been fazed by the step up, that he was working on his match fitness and putting in extra hours to adapt to the speed of League football.
In games he runs himself into the ground, working hard holding the ball up, bringing others into play and creating space for others.
Everything else, like his ability to find the right place at the right time, seems to come easily.
How he hasn’t been picked up before now I don’t know, but I’m delighted he’s slipped through the net.
Unfortunately Austin will be forced to sit out next month's trip to Fulham in the FA Cup Third Round because he played for Poole in the qualifying rounds, but there’s a growing belief that he can help fire Swindon into the Championship.
We’re sitting in sixth with two games in hand, and with Austin complimenting Paynter – arguably in the form of his life – in a side showing few weaknesses elsewhere, I’m probably more excited than I’ve been for 10 years.
On and off the pitch things are moving in the right direction. Long may it continue.
And should the lads achieve the dream this season, maybe those big-eared chaps in Florida could treat them to a trip to the States?
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This boy has breathed new life into the support. Everybody likes to see the man off the street come in and succeed and being a local lad (he runs to his mates in the crowd when he scores) only adds to his cult status. We have been strong in defence and tigerish in midfield all season, now hopes are high we have a strike pair to fire us onto to greater things.
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