SWINDON is at fever pitch as the long wait for one of the biggest games in the history of the town’s football club is upon us.

Fans were jubilant in December when their team drew Manchester City at home in the third round of the FA Cup - and the enthusiasm has only grown since then in the run up to tonight’s game.

Fans have been queueing to collect their tickets for the clash at the County Ground and everyone was buzzing with excitement about watching their beloved team play against the Premier League champions.

After the Robins faced a torrid time with relegation, a transfer embargo, no manager, and £4.5 million of debt before Clem Morfuni took over in July, hardcore supporters have expressed how important this match will be for everyone around the club.

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Hannah Clinch, acting chairperson of the Official Supporters Club, has supported Town for as long as she can remember.

“I can’t remember the last time we played Premier League opponents of this magnitude. The sheer excitement it’s brought to the club and all of the fans is amazing,” she said.

“Since Clem and Rob Angus [the club’s CEO] have taken over, you can see the positive changes that have been made and the transparency.

“I think that off the pitch performance has been the biggest thing in bringing people back. Then people see the team performing well and they keep coming back, so hopefully this massive draw will attract more people.”

The Official Supporters Club has between 600 to 700 members and has become a lot more active in the last couple of years.

Hannah said the performance is more important than the result against a club ranked as one of the best in the world.

“If we can perform like we did against Northampton and that level of effort is put in then I’ll be happy regardless of the result,” she said.

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“If we could nick it in the goal that would just be incredible. I’m going to predict a 3-1 Man City win.”

Her parents, Tracy and Andy, met each other 27 years ago when they helped out with running the travel service to Town’s away matches.

Tracy said: “It’s nice to get to the third round of the FA Cup and it makes it even better to play against a big club.

“It’s definitely one of the highlights from the years I’ve been watching. My best one would be Sunderland in 1990 because of the atmosphere and the result and because it was so friendly between the fans.

“But this will hopefully inject some much needed finances into the club. Lots of people complained about putting the prices up but it will help do some good.

“Hopefully this match will get some people coming tomorrow to come back in the future.”

There is cautious optimism among some that the Swindon players will give their famous opponents a run for their money after the glorious 5-2 victory over Northampton Town on New Year’s Day.

In addition, seven of City’s first team players and manager Pep Guardiola have tested positive for Covid meaning the club that have been drubbing fellow Premier League teams this season will not be near full strength.

City’s 50-year-old Spanish boss and his assistant Juanma Lillo were both found to have the virus on Tuesday.

The pair are among 21 people at City isolating before the cup tie.

Andy Clinch, who has been a Town fan since 1973, added: “I think they’ll put up a good show and if they play like they did last week, they’ll give the Man City youngsters a good go.

“I think the sell-out home crowd will be beneficial for Swindon players to get the crowd behind them and obviously the Man City youngsters will be very nervous, especially in front of a big crowd and cameras.

“I’d like to think we’d nick an early goal and possibly take it 2-1.”

Friends Darren and Darren go to all of Swindon’s home matches and have been supporting the team for 30 years.

But one of the Darrens is also a Manchester City fan so he’ll be happy either way.

“When I found out the draw, I hid from my friends and I thought I’m either going to have to hibernate or I’m going to get it big time,” he said.

“I can’t comment about who I’d like to win but this is a really good opportunity for the club because it’s something new.

“It’ a shame Pep Guardiola won’t be there because he brings the glamour and everyone was looking forward to seeing him.

“We can bring the passion back and that’s what it’s all about for this club. Hopefully we will build on our squad with the money we’re going to get.

“It’s just good for the club, it’s something new. It is good experience for the club and the players.”

His friend Darren, a dedicated Swindon supporter said he is happy to see a sell-out crowd and still hoping to see City stars Jack Grealish, Fernandinho and Phil Foden.

“It’s the highlight of the year,” he said.

“For me, I’m excited to see the whole Man City squad even if it’s mostly younger players.

“I’d be very happy if we walked home tomorrow night with a draw.

“A couple of players need more work and hopefully this will give them the chance to move forward.

“The whole experience will be amazing and I’ll probably end up in The Merlin.”

Kick-off is at 8pm. Follow all the updates from the game at swindonadvertiser.co.uk