It has been a tough, old year to support Swindon. Despite him literally playing for the team, memories of Harry McKirdy volleying in a second goal in the play-offs feel like a long time ago. Nine games unbeaten to start the season turned out to be a mirage as this season became more devoid of joy than the dour one that preceded it.

Swindon have been useless in cup competitions for my entire life, Swindon have rarely been more than the sum of their parts, and Swindon have not been an easy team to root for these last two seasons. The under-18s have been the opposite of that.

Although their visit to Ashton Gate turned out to be the final meaningful game of this season for Town, it was an opportunity for the fans to show their appreciation to those who brought that meaning.

From watching Josh Keyes dazzle against Wimborne Town, to listening to Botan Ameen talk about his dreams coming true after the Manchester United game, to witnessing Swindon dominate the crowd at Ashton Gate, much of this run will stick with me for some time.

What Wood’s Wunderkinds have done this season is nothing short of remarkable. Clem Morfuni and Jamie Russell talk about their plans in their PowerPoints for how to make things better, the academy has had a real plan for a number of years created by people who know what they are doing, and it shows.

I wrote a piece this week about how Swindon managed to put this team together and it has been clear all along from speaking to Sean Wood that nothing about this was fortunate. He and those around him have set this team up to succeed and they have thrived beyond all expectations. I asked him somewhat flippantly before they faced a Manchester United side that had won 14 of 14 in their league this season whether they could possibly hope to win, and whilst he understood the size of the task, he had a genuine belief that they had more than just a shot.

A team that the best youngsters from Liverpool, Manchester City, and all the rest have not been able to lay a glove on came to the County Ground and looked like they were the ones that had no hope of winning. I had only seen that team play a handful of times before that night, but watching on and then being on the pitch as they celebrated, was a special feeling.

Sunderland was a different performance, but in this job this season I have been to random places up and down the country and seen a team wearing that same badge wilt under the slightest pressure. In that same situation, they stood up and made sure they got the result. Redman Evans showed calmness that a goalkeeper of his age should not have and made me want to see him make the step up for a reason beyond just the fact his name is Redman.

It wasn’t to be on Thursday night, but watching a crowd so vociferously behind a team, especially an under-18 team, is something you long for in football. It went to show what this club can do when there is something to get behind.

Whilst the whole club has been on fire all season, this team have come into the room holding a pizza like Troy Barnes. Wondering what comes next for this team is for another day. But as the prophecy John Goodman told Troy said, “The true repairman will repair man” and with the first team hurtling to a finish beneath the Beamish Line, this club could do with someone to repair it.