MEET THE LEGENDS: Steve Tweddle | Chippenham Town Legends XI vs Manchester United Legends XI
In the build-up to the Chippenham Town Legends XI vs Manchester United Legends XI fixture on the 27th of March we meet the legends of Chippenham Town for a more in depth look into their career, achievements and involvement with the club over the years as they prepare to return to the pitch!
Steve ‘Tweeds’ Tweddle
In terms of club legends for Chippenham Town FC, they arguably don’t come much bigger than this man. Signing from Melksham Town for Tommy Saunders as part of the now dubbed “revolution” ‘Tweeds’ became a cult hero for the Bluebirds.
When the ball hit the back of the net for Chippenham in the Western League, it was almost a given that the name Tweddle would be attached to it. He became somewhat of a “poster boy” for the FA Vase run in the 1999/2000 season as goals in the early round stages were combined with a winner against Glossop and an important goal in the home leg of the Quarter Final against Bedlington Terriers to set up a famous replay in the North of England.
Sadly for Steve and his teammates, upon reaching the final, not even the mercurial Tweddle could get the better of Turner in the Deal Town goal and Chippenham’s FA Vase dream was brought to an end against the backdrop of the Twin Towers at Wembley.
Following the disappointment of losing the Vase, Steve and his teammates dragged themselves off the floor to claim the League Cup at Mangotsfield winning 2-1 and ensuring they had something shiny to lift at the end of the season. In the 2000/2001 season, Steve achieved an extraordinary feat and would cement his legacy with Chippenham Town forever. The Bluebirds finished the Western League season in 2nd place, running Taunton Town all the way to the wire before the Somerset club eventually claimed the League title. However, Chippenham would be promoted to the Division One West of the Southern League and in doing so Steve fired 50 goals in what would be his and Chippenham Town’s last season in the Western League.
Tweeds re-signed for the 2001/2002 season amongst much speculation that his goal scoring achievements at Chippenham were too hard to ignore from the area’s bigger clubs and with Forest Green Rovers tabling an offer, it looked inevitable that Chippenham were about to lose their talisman striker. In the end, Steve stayed with the Bluebirds and in their first attempt at reaching the Southern Premier League, Tweed’s partnership with Matt Rawlins (a vibrant and pacey striker with a keen eye for goal), Chippenham established themselves as contenders right from the off. Again, Chippenham just fell short and finished 2nd but in doing so, were promoted at the first time of asking to the Southern Premier League.
The 2002/2003 season would be Steve’s last with the club he loved. With the lure of Conference football at Forest Green Rovers proving just too strong for the striker who had given 4 amazing seasons to the Bluebirds, he left the club aged 32 and FGR finally got their man with Tweeds making his debut in a 2-2 draw with Southport.
In a strange turn of events, Tweddle was then immediately moved on from FGR to Bath City after the Romans had a bid of £3,000 turned down for the striker only a few months prior whilst still at Chippenham Town. It was a bitter pill to swallow for many a Chippenham fan as their local rivals sent out their new acquisition against the Town, decked in Black and White and with a resigned look on his face when Bath City were awarded a penalty. Tweeds did what Tweeds does and rolled the ball past Ian Jones to score against the club he loved and that loved him at Twerton Park in a 2-2 draw.
After Bath City, Steve had spells at Paulton Rovers, Bradford Town and finally where it started for him at Melksham before packing it in aged 37.
Tweddle will be remembered fondly by all Chippenham supporters and particularly by myself as my first footballing hero. A goalscorer like no other at the club, his goals could come from absolutely anywhere and defenders almost had to be on red alert for his movement in front of goal and his sneaky tactics that made him one of non-league football’s deadliest strikers in the 2000’s.
We caught up with Steve ahead of his return to the club that he has gone on record saying “Will always have his heart” and “Gave me the best footballing experiences of my career”.
Simon – So Steve, you signed for the club in 1999 from local rivals Melksham?
Steve – Yes, I signed in the 1999 season for Tommy Saunders and Malcolm Lyus, their vision for where they wanted to take the club was a real incentive for me to make the switch and in the years to come, we just had the most amazing times. My relationship particularly with Malcolm was always a huge plus for me, having a chairman that was on the pulse and really cared about us made Chippenham a fantastic place to play football.
Simon – Oh we all had good memories of that time, but what was your favourite memory Tweeds?
Steve – So many of course with the Vase run in particular seemingly throwing up a new best moment every month but to go to Bedlington Terriers, a side that hadn’t lost at home in god knows how many games and with everyone almost resigned outside of our dressing room that it was curtains for us, to win 2-0 with them never really laying a glove on us was very special.
Simon – And we covered your standout achievement for the club above Steve but 50 goals in one season, that’s pretty incredible.
Steve – It was one of those seasons Simon. After the disappointment of the year before the one thing we knew was that we were a special group. We absolutely lived for each other on the pitch and with so many good players, creative players and a resilient back line, we knew we had a good chance of doing something that year. My job was to score goals and when you are being supplied chances game after game, it just seemed to keep clicking and of course, it’s always nice when you hit milestones in football. 50 in a season was a very special moment for me as some of the best strikers in world football struggle to hit those kind of numbers, whatever level.
Simon – And you mentioned Steve, a whole host of teammates that you have had over the years. Putting you on the spot, who sticks out for you as a favourite or best teammate from your time at Chippenham?
Steve – It’s very hard to choose as I played with so many fantastic players but I would have to say Grantley Dicks! He knew every run that I was about to make and he always knew where I was on the pitch. He had the ability to find me more often than not as well and as a striker when you are receiving good service it makes your job so much simpler. Also I have to give a little mention to my strike partner Matt Rawlins don’t I. Such a great lad and what an easy player to play with. My partnership with Matt again made scoring goals so much easier as we just knew where the other was going to be and had a very good understanding on the pitch.
Simon – So it’s been a while Steve, 2003 since the last time you played at Chippenham, you’ve obviously kept yourself very fit since then but it’s 2022 now, what are you most looking forward to about getting back out there?
Steve – Well, I have played recently against this lot for Melksham Veterans so it will be nice to see some of the United lads again. But, I am most looking forward to seeing the club, the progression it’s made off the pitch and catching up with old and indeed new faces that are keeping this great club going. Chippenham has always held a special place in my heart for what it gave me the opportunities to do in my career and the supporters were such a big part of that, I just hope I can get out there and do them proud once again.
Simon – Thanks Steve and I speak for all of us when I say you were such a big part of Chippenham for such a long time, a true fan favourite and we are very much looking forward to welcoming you back to Chippenham for the Manchester United Legends XI game.