The one rule when supporting an EFL club is not to fall in love with loan players, because the heartbreak is there when the players leave the club to go back to their parent clubs. This happened to Swindon Town in the first few days of the new year where the loan duo of Dan Kemp and Jake Young were both recalled by the parent clubs in MK Dons and Bradford City, respectively. Both players left their mark at SN1 at the Country Ground during the first half of the season.
Both players had previous loan spells at the beginning of 2023, Dan Kemp went on loan to strugglers Hartlepool United and excelled with nine goals in 16 games with two assists. That included a hat-trick on Easter Friday as Hartlepool United beat Grimsby 4-1. Unfortunately for Kemp, Hartlepool were relegated out of the EFL after a 2-0 home defeat to Crawley Town who were just above the relegation zone. That win for Crawley ensured their safety in League Two. Kemp did not feature for Hartlepool United for the remaining two games of the season.
For Jake Young, a loan spell at Barrow at the beginning of 2023 was a different story. Bradford City signed Young from Forest Green Rovers in May 2022 for an undisclosed fee. After four goals in 16 games in all competitions, Young was sent on loan to Barrow for the latter half of the 2022/23 season. In 17 games, Young scored zero goals as he struggled for form with only just five starts in that loan spell.
Something clicked for both loan players when arriving at Swindon Town, Dan Kemp was signed on the 18th of July and had a few weeks of pre-season. Jake Young was signed a bit later in the transfer window on the 2nd of August just in time for the season. Michael Flynn was in charge after accepting a deal on the 8th of May 2023 after Jody Morris’ sacking in May 2023.
In Michael Flynn’s 3-4-1-2 formation which is very kamikaze at times, when watching games live in the stadium or live on Ifollow, Swindon Town are entertaining to watch. Score goals but concede goals at will. It has been more of the latter in recent months. Both Dan Kemp and Jake Young have excelled massively in the first half of the season. Kemp playing as the elegant no 10, lovely left foot. With Jake Young playing as one of the two strikers.
Jake Young was the catalyst in Swindon Town’s attack while Dan Kemp was the architect. Jake Young contributed 16 goals and four assists in 26 appearances which included a goal on his debut as a half-time substitute. Young turned and swivelled a low shot into the bottom corner, minutes into his debut and with his first shot on goal.
Young would score seven more goals in the next four league games, including two away at Wrexham which ended up 5-5. A week later, Young netted four in a 6-0 home win over Crawley. Then two more in an equally crazy game for Swindon Town which ended up 5-3 home win over Sutton United in the blazing early September sunshine. Swindon Town almost let a 3-0 lead slip.
The goals dried up for the on-loan Bradford City striker as he went goalless in seven games. But it changed after a wonderful long-range effort at Stadium Mk against Mk Dons, a game I attended in the away end along with 2,200 other Swindon Town fans.
In the next five games, Young would net six more goals, with goals against Colchester United, Stockport County, Harrogate United, and Mansfield Town, grabbing a double that included a stoppage-time winner. Then a goal away at Accrington Stanley which Swindon Town were 4-0 up in stoppage time and nearly blew away a 4-0 lead to win 4-3. In the remaining six games of Young’s loan spell, he would fail to find the net as Swindon lost five out of those six games.
For the diminutive, elegant no 10 in Dan Kemp, his numbers at Swindon in the first half of the season are outstanding. 14 league goals in 25 league games with eight assists, Kemp also scored two in the FA Cup first-round defeat to Aldershot. Aldershot won 7-4 and were 7-0 up at one point early in the second half. I left that game at 7-0 and missed the four Swindon goals. Kemp has been the spark and creativity in Swindon Town’s slump of form in recent weeks, the last four goals that Swindon Town have scored have come from Dan Kemp.
A goal in a 2-1 away defeat to Tranmere Rovers before Christmas. Two goals in the final home game of the year in a 2-1 home win over Forest Green Rovers. Finally, the consolation in the 3-1 defeat on New Year’s Day away at Crawley, a low free kick in added time. Kemp started the season with Swindon wonderfully with seven goals and five assists in the first 11 games of the season, he has continued his fine form in the first half of the season and will be a big loss for Swindon going forward.
Losing both Jake Young and Dan Kemp is massive for Swindon Town as currently they sit in the bottom half of the League Two table and are struggling in recent weeks with a concerning run of form with one win in eight matches, having lost six in that same period. Both Bradford City and MK Dons would be stupid not to invoke the recall clause in both of their loan spells.
Both players have excelled at Swindon Town in the first half of the season and will look to progress their fine form back at the parent clubs. Jake Young has 18 months left on his deal, whilst Dan Kemp has only six months left of his deal. Swindon Town will need to act fast in the January transfer window to replace the two departing players as they have left a big hole in the attack contributing 30 league goals out of the 50 league goals scored this season.
By: Scot Munroe / @scot_munroe
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto