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Soccer Special
& Soccer Hour

HTV Football Highlights 1968-83
HTV was originally launched as "Harlech Television" in May 1968 as a "dual-region" ITV service for Wales and the West of England, the station became known as 'HTV' in 1970. In an area where rugby was regarded as the no.1 sport, local football coverage was sporadic with HTV relaying either London Weekend Television's The Big Match or another region's programme on most Sunday afternoon's. Locally televised matches would go out under the title "Soccer Special" with just the one game taking up the whole programme until season 1977/78 when HTV began showing a shorter edit of their own highlights before joining LWT for the remainder of the one hour slot.

HTV commentators and presenters
Roger Malone (apparently a Bristol City fan) was the regular commentator - Born on 31st May 1933 in Egypt, Malone had been employed by previous Wales & West ITV franchise holders TWW as a continuity announcer, but he went on to become a part of ITV's 1970 World Cup commentary team. Bob Symonds commentated on Welsh matches from around 1973/74 (and continued to commentate for ITV's Welsh service until 2008), Graham Miller could also occasionally be heard voicing/presenting HTV games in the late 1970's/early 1980's (he went on to become an ITN newsreader circa 1990). Hugh Johns joined the station 'full-time' in August 1982 having worked for TWW in the early-mid 1960's before moving to ATV, but he had voiced Wales internationals and popped up on mid-week HTV programmes throughout the 1970's.

The HTV region's league teams 1968-1983
Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town*, Swansea Town, Cardiff City, Wrexham** and Newport County.

*ATV/CENTRAL cameras would also turn up at Swindon's ground.
** Wrexham were covered by GRANADA on a few occasions.

Bristol CityBristol RoversCardiff CityNewport CountySwansea CitySwindon TownWrexham

What matches were shown
The following lists detail all known Saturday matches recorded by HTV cameras for local highlights, the re-edits of other region's matches are not included here (see the other region's pages for those here). For midweek games (which were networked) go here, for full details of networked Wembley Cup finals go here, for European finals see here. Given dates are for when the fixture was played (not the broadcast). Non Wales or West based matches are in italics.

Season 1968/69
All of this season's Harlech football highlights programmes were broadcast in 405-line black & white on VHF only. Harlech showed other region's football programmes when they were not covering a game of their own, but from January 1969 the Times bills "Sport" which may have been a Harlech programme mixing local Rugby with one of the other region's football matches. The title "Soccer Special" first appeared in the Times TV listings in February 1969 but this was only scheduled on the weekends Harlech covered a local match.
30/Nov    Cardiff City 4 (Bird 2, Clark, Jones) Sheffield United 1 (Addison) *Times bills programme as "Football"
14/Dec    Swindon Town 1 (Ropers) Brighton & Hove Albion 0 *Times bills programme as "Football"
11/Jan     Bristol City 3 (Galley 2, Sharpe) Middlesbrough 0  *Times bills programme as "Soccer"
08/Feb    *First billng of "Soccer Special" in the Times, but intended match was postponed (BBC covered Cardiff v Oxford).
22/Feb    Swindon Town 1 (Noble) Rotherham United 0 *"Soccer Special"
15/Mar    League Cup Final - Swindon Town 3 (Smart, Rogers 2) Arsenal 1 (Gould) *Networked highlights
12/Apr    Bristol City 2 (Galley 2) Oxford United 0 *"Soccer Special"
19/Apr    Cardiff City 0 Huddersfield Town 2 (Cherry, Murray(og)) *"Soccer Special"

Cardiff City, managed by Jimmy Scoular, were the region's highest placed club this season finishing 5th in the 2nd tier with John Toshack the division's leading scorer on 22. Alan Dicks' Bristol City - the other local 2nd tier club - finished 16th. But the season really belonged to 3rd tier Swindon Town who not only won the League Cup at Wembley by defeating Arsenal, they also won promotion as runners-up, Don Rogers - the hero at Wembley - was also the division's joint leading scorer on 22. Swindon manager Danny Williams was then tempted away to Sheffield Wednesday during the close season. Fred Ford's Bristol Rovers finished 16th, whilst in the 4th tier John Neal took over as manager of Wrexham in September and they finished 9th, Swansea were 10th and Newport had to apply for re-election in 22nd. Winners of the Welsh Cup gained entry into the European Cup-Winners Cup, Cardiff were this season's hopefulls but they lost out to Porto in the opening round.

Season 1969/70
All of this season's editions of Harlech football highlights were broadcast in 405-line black & white on VHF only. Harlech began the season relaying LWT's "The Big Match" but then took ATV's "Star Soccer" most weekends from October.
23/Aug    Bristol City 0 Cardiff City 2 (Clark, Bird) *Times lists HTV as taking "The Big Match"
27/Sep    Swindon Town 1 (Noble) Leicester City 1 (Glover) *Times lists HTV as taking "The Big Match"
11/Oct    Cardiff City 4 (Toshack 2, Bird 2) Aston Villa 0 *Listed for HTV in Sunday Times
08/Nov   Showed Southern coverage of Portsmouth 3 (Hiron 2, Pointer) Cardiff City 0 *Listed for HTV in Sunday Times
15/Nov   Bristol City 2 (Bush, Garland) Queens Park Rangers 0 *Times bills "Soccer Special"
06/Dec    Swindon Town 1 (Horsfield) Bristol City 1 (Burrows(og)) *"Soccer Special"
13/Dec    Showed ATV's "Star Soccer" - Leicester City 1 (Fern) Cardiff City 2 (Clarke, King)
03/Jan     Showed Granada's "Football" - Blackburn Rovers 0 Swindon Town 4 (Smith, Horsfield, Rogers, Butler) [FA Cup 3rd Round]
10/Jan     Cardiff City 3 (Clarke 2, Bird) Sheffield United 0 *"Soccer Special"
17/Jan     Showed ATV's "Star Soccer" - Leicester City 0 Swindon Town 2 (Horsfield 2)
07/Feb    Swindon Town 3 (Noble, Horsfield, Trollope) Scunthorpe United 1 (Cassidy) [FA Cup 5th Round] *Probably shown on "Star Soccer" as 2nd match
28/Feb    Bristol City 0 Leicester City 0 *"Soccer Special"
21/Mar    Bristol City 3 (Galley, Sharpe, Kellard(pen)) Swindon Town 3 (Horsfield 2, Wimshurst(og)) *"Soccer Special"
28/Mar    Showed ATV's "Star Soccer" - Swindon Town 1 (Trollope) Watford 0
Harlech (now to become known as HTV) first began colour transmissions on 6th April 1970.

Swindon - under new manager Fred Ford - adapted well to life in the 2nd tier finishing 5th, there was also further success for the club in cup competitions - Back on 10th September Swindon became the first ever winners of the Anglo-ltalian League Cup by beating Roma 5-2 on aggregate, they also won an expanded Anglo-Italian tournament at the end of the season, winning the final 3-0 in Naples, and in the FA Cup Town reached the QF's (losing 2-0 at home to Leeds). Cardiff were just a point behind Swindon in 7th (Cardiff also reached the 2nd round of the Cup-Winners Cup) and Bristol City were 14th. The region's sole 3rd tier representatives Bristol Rovers were now managed by Bill Dodgin and his team were only one place short of promotion in 3rd. Rovers would now be joined in the 3rd tier by Wrexham and Roy Bentley's Swansea who were able to climb out of the old Fourth Division, but Newport just had to be thankful for retaining their league status after again facing the re-election process having finished 21st. Wrexham's Albert Kinsey was the leading scorer in all four division's with 27 goals.

Season 1970/71
HTV reverted back to showing LWT's "The Big Match" on weekends when no local programme was produced (with the one exception listed). HTV's own coverage remained in black & white this season.
15/Aug    Bristol City 4 (Sharp 2, Skirton, Wimhurst) Sunderland 3 (Kerr, Baker 2)
12/Sep    Swindon Town 2 (Horsfield 2) Portsmouth 1 (Storrie)
19/Sep    Cardiff City 1 (Clark) Norwich City 1 (Bennett)
31/Oct    Showed ATV's "Star Soccer" - Birmingham City 2 (Vincent, Robinson) Swindon Town 1 (Noble)
07/Nov   Swindon Town 2 (Horsfield, Noble) Bristol City 1 (Galley)
28/Nov   Cardiff City 0 Luton Town 0
19/Dec    Bristol City 2 (Rooks, Sharpe(pen)) Charlton Athletic 2 (Plumb, Wimshurst(og))
09/Jan     Bristol Rovers 1 (Stubbs) Aston Villa 2 (B.Rioch, Parsons(og))
20/Mar    Bristol City 2 (Gow, Galley) Swindon Town 1 (Horsfield)
03/Apr    Cardiff City 1 (Wimshurst(og)) Bristol City 0

Cardiff enjoyed their best season since losing their top flight status in 1962, City finished 3rd (4 points short of promotion) and reached the QF's of the Cup-Winners Cup (losing out to Real Madrid 2-1 on agg after winning the home leg 1-0) but they lost their star striker John Toshack to Liverpool in November. Swindon dropped to 12th, Bristol City to 19th but the red half of Bristol nearly reached Wembley in the League Cup, beaten by Spurs in the SF away leg after drawing at home. The 3rd tier saw top half finishes for all three local clubs; Bristol Rovers in 6th (having been top in November and reaching the League Cup QF's), Wrexham 9th and Swansea 11th. Following a dreadful start to the season (no wins in their opening 25 league games!) Newport County yet again survived the re-election vote after finishing 22nd - Billy Lucas had returned as manager for the 3rd time in November (a then football league manager's record).

Season 1971/72
14/Aug   Cardiff City 2 (Clark 2) Burnley 2 (Casper, Dobson) *First colour edition of "Soccer Special"
11/Sep    Bristol City 4 (Galley 2, Fear(pen), Gow) Hull City 0
30/Oct    Swindon Town 0 Middlesbrough 1 (Maddren)
27/Nov   Bristol Rovers 2 (W. Jones, Jarman) Plymouth Argyle 2 (Allen, Hutchins)
04/Dec   Intended match Cardiff City v Oxford United was postponed
15/Jan     Showed YTV - Leeds 4 (Giles 2(1pen), Lorimer 2)  Bristol Rovers 1 (Allan) [FA Cup R3] *Sunday Times
22/Jan     Bristol Rovers 2 (Higgins, Stephens) Brighton & Hove Albion 2 (J.Napier, Irvine) *Not listed in the World of Sport Almanac
05/Feb    Probably Cardiff City 1 Sunderland 1 [FA Cup 4th Round] *Not listed in the World of Sport Almanac
12/Feb    Swansea City 3 (Slattery, Thomas(2pens)) Bolton Wanderers 2 (Byrom, Greaves)
18/Mar    Bristol City 1 (Spiring) Sheffield Wednesday 0 *Times bills LWT's "The Big Match"

Bristol City emerged as the region's strongest side this season by finishing 8th ahead of Swindon in 11th who were now managed by Dave Mackay, Cardiff (after going so close to promotion the previous season) dropped to an alarming 19th despite 21 goals from Brian Clark (they were just 1 point better off than relegated Charlton). In the 3rd tier, Bristol Rovers repeated last season's achievements with a 6th place finish and another appearance in the League Cup QF's, Swansea dropped to 14th and Wrexham to 16th. In the 4th tier, Newport finally improved to 14th.

Season 1972/73
30/Sep    LWT's "The Big Match"  - Queens Park Rangers 3 (Givens 2(1pen), Bowles) Cardiff City 0
11/Nov   Bristol City 1 (Galley) Queens Park Rangers 2 (Givens 2)
02/Dec   Intended match Swindon Town v Cardiff City was postponed

Bristol City cemented their claim to be the region's top club by finishing 5th, Swindon were 16th (with new boss Les Allen taking over in November) but Cardiff were again dicing with death and only stayed up thanks to a better goal average than Huddersfield - it was also the last season in which the 3rd bottom club stayed up (the number of promotion/relegation places was about to increase from 2 to 3). Don Megson took over as manager of Bristol Rovers and, after winning the pre-season Watney Cup, Rovers continued to do well in the 3rd tier, this time taking 5th spot with Bruce Bannister the division's leading scorer on 25, Wrexham were 12th but Swansea were relegated as the next to bottom club (Harry Gregg took over as the Swans manager in November). Newport were desperately unlucky not to replace them having finished on the same number of points as Aldershot who snatched promotion ahead of County who had to settle for 5th. Wrexham were this season's Welsh representatives in the Cup-Winners Cup, and they only missed out on a QF place on the away goals rule.

Season 1973/74
13/Oct     *Possibly a local football programme this weekend, Times bills "Soccer" (Yorkshire TV's show of that name had Huddersfield v Plymouth)
03/Nov    LWT's "The Big Match" - Fulham 2 (John Conway, Busby) Bristol City 1 (Tainton)
01/Dec    LWT's "The Big Match" - Brighton & Hove Albion 2 (O'Sullivan, R.Howell) Bristol Rovers 8 (Bannister 3, Fearnley, Warboys 4)
08/Dec    Bristol Rovers 4 (Warboys 3(1pen), Jacobs) Southend United 0
15/Dec    Cardiff City 0 Bristol City 1 (Gillies)
09/Mar    Bristol City 0 Liverpool 1 (Toshack) [FA Cup QF] *Brian Moore comm for LWT's "The Big Match", no "Soccer Special" this weekend
23/Mar    LWT's "The Big Match" -  Crystal Palace 3 (Possee 2, Rogers(pen)) Bristol City 1 (Whitehead)

Not a good season for the local 2nd tier sides, Bristol City slumped to 16th (although they did reach the FA Cup QF's having knocked out Leeds in the 5th Round), Cardiff again clung on to 2nd tier status in 17th (2 points above the drop zone after Frank O'Farell took over as manager in November) and Swindon finished rock bottom despite the return of manager Danny Williams in March. But in the 3rd tier there was good news as Bristol Rovers finally broke into the promotion places, finishing 2nd with Alan Warboys netting 21 of their league goals (Rovers were unbeaten in the league until February), Wrexham were not far behind in 4th (and they reached the FA Cup QF's). In the Fourth Division Newport were 9th, Swansea 14th.

Season 1974/75
31/Aug    Cardiff City 0 Manchester United 1 (Daly(pen)) *Highlights archived
14/Sep    Bristol Rovers 2 (Warboys 2) Aston Villa 0 *Tape log says it is unedited
28/Dec    Bristol Rovers 1 (Fearnley) Bristol City 4 (Fear 2, Mann, Tainton) *Archived (unedited 90 minutes + interviews)
01/Feb    Showed Granada's "Football" - Manchester United 0 Bristol City 1 (Gillies)
08/Feb    Showed Tyne Tees' "Shoot" - Sunderland 3 (Towers(pen), Morgan(og), Robson) Cardiff City 1 (Anderson)
25/Jan     LWT's "The Big Match" - West Ham United (Jennings) 1 Swindon Town 1 (Eastoe) [FA Cup 4th Round]
29/Mar    Bristol City 0 Norwich City 1 (Suggett)

It was the two Bristol clubs who now began to dominate the local scene, City were much improved on last season and finished 5th whilst Rovers (following promotion) stayed up in 19th. Having threatened to take the plunge for some time, Cardiff - now managed by Jimmy Andrews - were finally relegated in 21st, crowd trouble had also become a problem at Ninian Park and in the home game v York the referee was punched in the chest by a supporter as he left the field at half-time and another fan then poured a cup of tea over him. In the 3rd tier, Swindon were close to achieving an immediate return from the drop but had to settle for 4th (Peter Eastoe bagged 26 of their league goals), cash strapped Wrexham were 13th. In the basement league, Newport were 12th and Swansea - now managed by Harry Griffiths -  had to apply for re-election in 22nd.

HTV Soccer SpecialRoger Malone
14th September 1974, Roger Malone presenting from the ground.

Season 1975/76
30/Aug    Bristol City 1 (Cheesley) Bristol Rovers 1 (Bannister) *Highlights archived
04/Oct    Cardiff City 3 (Dwyer 2, Evans) Wrexham 0 *Times bills "The Big Match" which didn't include this game
15/Nov   Bristol Rovers 0 Plymouth Argyle 0 *Sunday Times
07/Feb    LWT's "The Big Match" -  Crystal Palace 3 (Taylor(pen), Chatterton 2) Swindon Town 3 (Stroud, Syrett 2) *Swindon's Dave Moss missed pen
24/Apr    Bristol City 1 (Whitehead) Notts County 2 (O'Brien, Benjamin) *held by BFI, Fred Dineage listed as commentator(???)

HTV would finally have a top flight club to cover as Bristol City (still managed by Alan Dicks) won promotion in 2nd place to join the elite for the first time since 1911, Tom Ritchie was the Robin's leading scorer in this famous league campaign with 18 goals. Bristol Rovers finished 18th. In the 3rd tier, Cardiff won an instant return with promotion as runners-up (Tony Evans was City's top scorer on 21), Wrexham were not far behind in 6th but Swindon slumped to 19th. In the 4th tier, Swansea improved to 11th but Newport dropped into the bottom four and had to survive another re-election process. Wrexham reached the QF's of the Cup-Winners Cup losing 2-1 on agg to Anderlecht.

Season 1976/77
21/Aug    LWT's "The Big Match" -  Arsenal 0 Bristol City 1 (Cheesley)
28/Aug    Cardiff City 2 (Alston, Showers) Blackburn Rovers 1 (Mitchell) *inlcuded on "The Big Match"
04/Sep    Bristol City 4 (Mann, Tainton, Ritchie, Gillies) Sunderland 1 (Robson)
30/Oct    Bristol Rovers 1 (Fearnley) Charlton Athletic 1 (Flanagan)
06/Nov   Bristol City 0 Coventry City 0 *Sunday Times
27/Nov   Cardiff City 0 Nottingham Forest 3 (Withe, Chapman, Woodcock) *Sunday Times
04/Dec    Abandoned match - Bristol City 0 Leeds United 0 *Ref abandoned this at half-time, "Soccer Special" was scheduled
22/Jan     Bristol City 2 (Cormack 2) Arsenal 0 *held by BFI
29/Jan     Swindon Town 2 (Syrett, Stroud) Everton 2 (McKenzie, Latchford) [FA Cup 4th Round] *inlcuded on "The Big Match"
12/Feb    Bristol Rovers 2 (Day, Williams) Fulham 1 (Mitchell)

Bristol City clung on to top flight status in 18th (1 point above the drop). 2nd tier Cardiff also narrowly avoided an immediate return to a lower level - this time on goal difference, Bristol Rovers were only 3 points better off in 15th. The 3rd tier saw Wrexham continue to push for promotion with Graham Whittle netting 28 goals, but they lost a crucial penultimate game of the season to Crystal Palace who snatched promotion 1 point ahead of the Welsh club, manager John Neal was then lured away by Middlesbrough. Swindon finished 11h. 4th tier Swansea showed a massive improvement and were only 1 point behind the promotion zone in 5th (Jeremy Charles was on target 23 times). Newport, suffering a financial crisis, ended the campaign in 19th with Colin Addison as manager.

Season 1977/78
The Times bills "The Big Match" for HTV on all weekends following 20/Aug, but  from 1977/78 to 1979-80 if HTV had their own game it would go out as "Soccer Hour" and after the main HTV game, they would then join "The Big Match" for the remainder of the slot (This would be for the second game onwards unless "The Big Match" were showing HTV's match - in which case HTV would join "The Big Match" for the letters section and third match).
20/Aug    Cardiff City 1 (Went) Bristol Rovers 1 (Randall)
03/Sep    Bristol City 1 (Mabbutt) Aston Villa 1 (Little)
24/Sep    Wrexham 2 (McNeil, Whittle) Swindon Town 1 (Moss)
01/Oct     Bristol City 2 (Tainton, Cormack(pen)) Queens Park Rangers 2 (Masson, Eastoe)
15/Oct     Swindon Town 1 (Aizlewood) Port Vale 1 (Sutcliffe)
22/Oct     LWT's "The Big Match" - Watford 2 (Mercer, Downes) Newport County 0
05/Nov    Cardiff City 2 (Dwyer, Sayer) Stoke City 0
19/Nov    Bristol Rovers 0 Bolton Wanderers 1 (Waldron)
31/Dec    Bristol City 1 (Mabbutt) Nottingham Forest 3 (Needham, Woodcock, O'Neill) *Archived (unedited 90 minutes + interviews)
21/Jan     Bristol Rovers 2 (Gould, Randall) Blackpool 0 *Archived (incorrectly dated as 12/Jan)
28/Jan     Bristol Rovers 2 (Randall 2) Southampton 0 [FA Cup 4th Round] *Archived (unedited 90 minutes + interviews)
18/Feb    Bristol Rovers 2 (Williams 2) Ipswich Town 2 (Turner 2) [FA Cup 5th Round] *Snow covered pitch
11/Mar   Granada coverage of Wrexham 2 (McNeil, Whittle) Arsenal 3 (Macdonald, Sunderland, Young) [FA Cup QF] *Bob Symonds for HTV, Moore for rest
01/Apr    Bristol City 3 (Nulty(og), Ritchie, Hunter) Newcastle United 1 (Barrowclough) *Archived (unedited 90 minutes + interviews)
15/Apr    Swansea City 2 (Curtis 2)  Brentford 1 (W.Graham)
22/Apr    Wrexham 7 (Thomas, Lyons, Whittle 3, Shinton, Cartwright) Rotherham United 1 (Phillips)
29/Apr    Bristol City 1 (Royle) Coventry City 1 (Wallace)

Bristol City ended their 2nd season in the top flight with the same number of points as last season, but this time climbed one place higher. One point less for either Bristol Rovers or Cardiff would have seen them relegated, but instead they finished 18th and 19th, Rovers had appointed Bobby Campbell as manager in November. In spite of losing John Neal, Wrexham - now under Arfon Griffiths - had an extraordinary season, they finally achieved promotion from the 3rd tier as champions (nicely illustrated with a 7-1 win towards the end of the season in front of the HTV cameras) and also reached the QF's of BOTH major domestic cup competitions - losing to Arsenal in the FA Cup QF (after knocking out Newcastle 4-1 in a 4th Round replay) and to Liverpool in the League Cup QF. There was another Welsh promotion story with Swansea finishing 3rd to climb out of the basement league, this after John Toshack had taken over as manager in February, Alan Curtis was joint top scorer in all four division's with 32 goals, Newport finished 16th.

Season 1978/79
23/Sep    Cardiff City 2 (Stevens, Bishop) Blackburn Rovers 0 *Held by BFI
30/Sep    Bristol City 2 (Gow, Hunter) Everton 2 (Latchford 2) *Highlights archived
14/Oct    Bristol City 1 (Ritchie(pen)) Nottingham Forest 3 (Birtles, Robertson 2)
04/Nov   Bristol Rovers 2 (Randall 2) Newcastle United 0 *Held by BFI
09/Dec    Wrexham 4 (Lyons 3(2pens), Hill) West Ham United 3 (Cross, Lampard, Robson)
16/Dec    Bristol City 1 (Royle) Liverpool 0
03/Feb    Swindon Town 2 (McHale, Carter) Chester 0 *Held by BFI
03/Mar    Bristol City 1 (Gow) Manchester United 2 (Ritchie, McQueen)
24/Mar    Cardiff City 1 (Buchanan(pen)) Stoke City 3 (Randall, O'Callaghan, Crooks) *Bob Symonds comm. Held by BFI
07/Apr    Bristol Rovers 0 Sunderland 0
05/May   Granada covered Wrexham 1 (Jones) Sunderland 2 (Rostron, Brown) *Included on "The Big Match" shown on HTV

Bristol City enjoyed their best season since promotion the top flight, finsihing 13th. It was a decent season for the region's 2nd tier clubs too with Cardiff (now managed by Richie Morgan) finishing 9th, Wrexham (adapting to life at the higher level) in 15th and Bristol Rovers in 16th. There was more good news in the 3rd tier as Swansea achieved a successive promotion in 3rd place, Swindon - now under Bobby Smith - were close to joining them in 5th. Newport continued to improve in the 4th Division by taking 8th spot.

Season 1979/80
01/Dec    Wrexham 1 (McNeil) Swansea City 0 *Full programme archived
22/Mar    Bristol Rovers 1 (Barrowclough) Wrexham 0
05/Apr    Bristol City 0 West Bromwich Albion 0
19/Apr    Cardiff City 0 West Ham United 1 (Stewart)
03/May   Cardiff City 1 (Bishop) Sunderland 1 (Robson) *This fixture was on "The Big Match" as the 2nd game.

Disappointment for Bristol City who's top flight run came to end with relegation in 20th. The 2nd tier saw Swansea lead the Welsh contingent in 12th with Cardiff slipping to 15th and Wrexham in 16th. Bristol Rovers ended the campaign one place above the drop, although points wise they were well clear, Terry Cooper replaced Harold Jarman as manager on April 1st. Down in the 3rd tier, Swindon reached the SF's of the League Cup - meeting up with Arsenal again in the QF's and taking them to a replay which Swindon won 4-3 before losing out to Wolves in the SF's 4-3 on agg after winning the opening home leg, Town finished 10th in the league. There was joy at last for Newport (now managed by Len Ashurst) who won promotion from the basement league in 3rd.

Season 1980/81
HTV reverted back to producing a complete one hour show on the few occasions they had their own match, Graham Miller hosted, Alan Taylor read the football news slot and Roger Malone commentated. LWT's "The Big Match" was shown on all other weekends (Saturday nights this season).
23/Aug    Bristol City 0 Bristol Rovers 0 *Full programme archived +L
01/Nov   Bristol Rovers 0 West Ham United 1 (Goddard) *Full programme archived +M
31/Jan     Bristol Rovers 0 Bristol City 0 *Archived (unedited 90 minutes)

Swansea City achieved the incredible feat of winning three promotions in four season's, John Toshack taking them all the way from the Fourth Division to the top flight. The Swans snatched 3rd place ahead of Blackburn on goal difference. Wrexham finished 16th and manager Arfon Griffiths then left for Crewe, Cardiff finished 19th, but it was a disastrous season for the Bristol clubs with both City and Rovers relegated as the bottom two - Alan Dicks' 13 year reign as City manager had come to an end on 30th September and he was replaced by Bobby Houghton. In the 3rd tier, Newport's final position of 12th looked comfortable in their first season following promotion, but they were only 3 points above the drop! County almost equalled a Welsh club record of reaching a major European Semi-final, but lost by the odd goal in the decisive Cup-Winners Cup QF home leg to Carl Zeiss Jena. Swindon were just 1 point above the 3rd tier relegation zone in 17th after taking on John Trollope as manager in November.

Bob Symonds, HTV Wales, 1981
Bob Symonds, 18th March 1981

Season 1981/82
ITV highlights return to a Sunday afternoon slot for this season.
10/Oct    Swansea City 2 (L.James, Thompson) Arsenal 0 *LWT's main game on "The Big Match", Brian Moore commentated
05/Dec    Swindon Town 0 Bristol City 0 *Crowd trouble caused the first half to end early, with the outstanding time added to the 2nd half
20/Mar    Bristol Rovers 3 (Mabbutt, Randall, D.Williams) Doncaster Rovers 0
27/Mar    Swansea City 1 (R.James(pen)) Ipswich Town 2 (Brazil, Gates) *Only billed for the Welsh part of the region.
01/May   Swansea City 1 (R.James) Everton 3 (Heath, Sharp 2(1pen)) *Only billed for the Welsh part of the region.

It just got better and better for Swansea, a fantastic start to the season saw them eventually finish 6th, the highest placed finish ever for a local club during the HTV era. But it was a miserable season for the region's other clubs, the two remaining 2nd tier teams - Cardiff and Mel Sutton's Wrexham - were both relegated whilst the 3rd tier saw both Swindon and Bristol City crash into the Fourth Division, this after Bristol City had sacked Bobby Houghton in January and replaced him with Roy Hodgson. Bristol Rovers and Newport County stayed up in 15th and 16th, Rovers had replaced manager Terry Cooper with Bobby Gould in October.

HTV Soccer SpecialGraham Miller
5th December 1981.

Season 1982/83
Hugh Johns now commentating (at least for Welsh viewers), ITV highlights on Saturday nights again this season.
30/Oct    Cardiff City 1 (Hemmerman) Portsmouth 0
20/Nov   Swansea City 1 (Latchford) Arsenal 2 (Woodcock, Chapman) *First Times ref to "Soccer Hour" (Wales only)
05/Feb    Bristol Rovers 2 (Platnaeur, Ball) Plymouth Argyle 0
26/Mar   Cardiff City 1 (G.Bennett) Lincoln City 0
14/May   Bristol Rovers 1 (Platnauer) Cardiff City 1 (Gibbins) *"Soccer Special", unedited 1st half archived

Swansea came back down to Earth with a bump and were relegated in 21st in spite of the 20 goals scored by Bob Latchford. The region had no 2nd tier clubs this season but would have two in the next campaign as Len Ashurst's Cardiff made an immediate return from the 3rd tier (as they had done in 1976) as runners-up. Newport enjoyed their best season since the 1940's in 4th with 25 goals scored by Tommy Tynan, Bristol Rovers improved to 7th but there was a successive relegation for Wrexham (now managed by Bobby Roberts). Fourth Division Swindon were 8th, Bristol City - with ex-Rovers manager Terry Cooper at the helm - finished 14th.

Midweek Football on TV 1968-1983
Networked Midweek Highlights
1968/69 - 1982/83

ITV football 1983-1988
The Network Years
1983/84 - 1987/88



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