FOOTBALL: Cox joins not-very-select group

IT WAS a shame we couldn't celebrate the fully fledged-debut last Saturday of Simon Cox, the first £200,000+ transfer capture at Swindon since Gary Alexander (£300,000) from West Ham seven and a half years ago.

Is it any wonder the club has been so circumspect in the transfer market?

The year after the Premiership fiasco in 1993/4, an attempt was made to buy our way back to the top level of football.

The previous club transfer record was topped twice in pre-season to bring in Joey Beauchamp (£850,000) and Mark Robinson (£600,000). It didn't work as the 1994-5 campaign ended in a second consecutive relegation.

Since those headless days, you can count the number of £200,000 transfers on the fingers of one hand - Alexander following George Ndah (£500,000), Wayne Allison (£475,000), Darren Bullock (£400,000) and Chris Hay (£330,000) - and all with patchy results.

Let's hope Cox has a more lasting effect on the team. Apart from his penchant for batting the ball into the net with his hand, he's a genuine talent in the Jimmy Davies mould and a crowd pleaser.

Chief executive Nick Watkins claimed no one was to blame for the delay in registering Cox as a Swindon player, but knowing at 6pm on Friday night that he was unavailable for selection, the club are being disingenuous to suggest they kept his non-appearance a secret to confuse opponents Northampton.

Town Flier was just one of almost 1,000 enticed to swell the normal gate in the expectation of seeing new-boy Cox.

What we got for our £23 was some of the most uninspiring football seen at the County Ground all season.

Only Comminges - on international duty for Guadeloupe this week - and the bandaged Aljofree came out of the game with any credit.

As his number one fan, it pains me to say that Brezovan was at fault for the Cobblers goal, making only a half-hearted attempt at coming for the corner - and that just five minutes after receiving a ticking-off from Lee Peacock for not coming for an earlier cross.

Two shots on target was the sum total of the Swindon entertainment over 90 minutes - Sturrock's well-taken goal and a goal-bound Peacock effort that was astonishingly blocked by Northampton's Mark Little.

By some way, Little was the best player on the pitch, though he was run close by barrel-chested winger Jonathan Hayes. It is no coincidence that both are on loan from the Championship.

Watching in the stands, Cox must have wondered whether he had joined the right team after tossing up between the Robins and the Cobblers earlier in the week.

Welcome aboard Andrew Black, the co- founder of the Betfair betting exchange, who chose his own internet blog to reveal last week that he was, indeed, the final mystery investor in Swindon Town FC.

As a Queen's Award to Industry winner, Betfair has proved one of the best business ideas of the last decade and given that he is on sabbatical from the firm he founded at the moment, here's hoping Black is not seen just as a cash cow for the Andrew Fitton group. His brain is too sharp to be wasted.

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