12:32 15 May 2012
The full history of Swansea City Football Club
Long before Swansea Town came into being, children had played football on a piece of waste ground on which vetch - a cabbage-like plant used for cow feed - grew wild.
Vetch Field, as it became known, was leased by the Swansea Gas Light Company to the Swansea League who laid out clinker pitches.
In 1912, Swansea Town were formed as a professional club and took up residence. This was an ambitious venture given the dominance of rugby union in the area.
The new football club adopted the same all white strip as Swansea RFU and apart from a few seasons when black shorts were introduced, they have worn all-white for most of their career.
The club was known as Swansea Town but they changed their name when Swansea was granted City status in 1969.
The Swans were admitted to the Second Division of the Southern League and there they remained until they won promotion immediately before the First World War. As a result, they became founder members of Division Three when the Southern League Division was incorporated in 1920.
They were a strong side in those days, winning promotion to the Second Division in 1925 as champions of Division Three (South). The following season they finished fifth in Division Two and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
During the 1930s the club's fortunes declined, but they staved off relegation until the season immediately after the Second World War. They did not stay down for long, winning the Third Division (South) championship and promotion in 1949.
They stayed in the Second Division for another sixteen seasons, reaching the FA Cup semi-final once again in 1964.
The Swans also enjoyed the first of many European campaigns in 1961 by virtue of winning the Welsh FA Cup, a competition they have won ten times to date.
In 1965 Swansea slipped into Division Three and then Division Four in 1967. Hopes were rekindled in 1970 when promotion was won, but three years later the Swans were back in the basement and in 1975 they faced the humiliation of having to apply for re-election.
There followed a remarkable revival under player-manager John Toshack, with successive promotions in 1978 and 1979 taking the club back into Division Two. In 1981, Swansea were promoted to the First Division finishing in a remarkable sixth place in 1982.
The decline that followed was even more dramatic. Relegated in 1983 and 1984, Swansea City was formally wound up on 20 December 1985. Fortunately a group of directors put together a rescue package and permission was granted for the club to continue its fixtures.
For 12 months the future of the club hung in the balance and, unable to sign or loan new players, Swansea were relegated to Division Four in 1986.
However, the High Court finally approved the new board's rescue plan and Swansea City survived. Not only that, they won promotion to Division Three in 1988 and five years later reached the play-offs.
In 1996, Swansea were relegated to what was now Nationwide Division Three (the old Fourth Division). Promoted as champions in 2000, the Swans lasted only one season at the higher level.
During the 2001-02 season the club changed hands several times and was again on the verge of bankruptcy, narrowly avoiding relegation to the Conference in 2003.
By 2005, however, there was a new air of optimism at the club as they prepared to leave the Vetch Field after more than 90 years to move into the new purpose-built Liberty Stadium.
The move coincided with an upturn in fortunes for the Swans.
After Football League Trophy success, promotion to the Championship was secured under Roberto Martinez, with the Spaniard kickstarting the new footballing philosophy at the club.
Just missing out on the play-offs in their first season back in the second tier, the Swans saw Martinez depart for Wigan but went even closer to the play-offs under Paulo Sousa.
The former Portuguese midfielder left the Liberty after a year to join Leicester, with Brendan Rodgers taking his place.
It proved a shrewd appointment - the Northern Irishman guided the Swans to Play-Off glory in his first season.
The Premier League welcomed its first Welsh side, and the Swans did club and country proud in a remarkable campaign which saw them finish 11th.
Victories over Arsenal, eventual champions Manchester City and Liverpool were among the highlights of a season which silenced the critics.
With the club's success came huge interest in its assets, with Rodgers making the move to Anfield to take over at Liverpool.
That meant another vacancy at the Liberty. A vacancy which would be filled by a true legend of the game in former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ajax and Denmark midfielder Michael Laudrup.
And the Great Dane guided the the Swans to arguably their finest season in the club's 100-year history in 2012-13 as they won the Capital One Cup - a first major trophy for the Swans - and finished ninth in the Barclays Premier League.
People born in the town (and by extension the fans of the football club) are known as "Swansea Jacks."
There are two possible origins for this nickname. The first is a reference to the high reputation of local seamen ("Jack Tars") in the early 19th Century.
There was also a famous black retriever called Swansea Jack who rescued no fewer than 27 people from drowning in the River Tawe and Swansea Docks during the 1930s.
During the early 19th Century, sailors from Swansea were extremely well respected and renowned for their hard work and mariner skills.
It was for these reasons that they were seemingly allowed to join any crew based simply on the town's reputation for great seamen.
Their nickname "Swansea Jacks" was born from their apparel which was jack tarred in order to provide some protection from the harsh elements of the sea.
This is the oldest know account of the term "Swansea Jack" and therefore affords great credence as the source for the modern day reference.
Life Saving Dog
Swansea Jack was a black retriever born in 1930. He lived in the North Dock / River Tawe area of Swansea with his master, William Thomas.
Jack would always respond to cries for help from the water, diving into the water and pulling whoever was in difficulty to safety at the dockside.
His first rescue, in June 1931, when he saved a 12 year old boy, went unreported. But a few weeks later, this time in front of a crowd, Jack rescued a swimmer from the docks. His photograph appeared in the local paper and the local council awarded him a silver collar.
In 1936, he had the prestigious 'Bravest Dog of the Year' award bestowed upon him by the 'Star' newspaper. He received a silver cup from the Lord Mayor of London and he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals ('the canine V.C.') by the National Canine Defence League.
Legend has it that in his lifetime he saved 27 people from the Docks / River Tawe.
Sadly, in October 1937, Swansea Jack died after eating rat poison. His burial monument, paid for by public subscription, is located on the promenade in Swansea near St.Helen's rugby ground.
In 2000, Swansea Jack was named 'Dog of the Century' by NewFound Friends of Bristol who train domestic dogs in aquatic rescue techniques.
1912/13 - Turned Professional. First season in Southern League, Welsh Cup Winners, beating Pontypridd.
1913/14 - Swans became the first Welsh Club to play in the FA Cup First Round proper.
1920/21 - Elected to the Football League Division Three (South)
1924/25 - Division Three(South) Champions. Jack Fowler top goalscorer with 28 league goals.
1925/26 - FA Cup semi-finalists, losing to Bolton Wanderers 3-0. Jack Fowler scores 28 goals in the league for a second consecutive season. Swans record their highest average attendance during the season of 16,118 for pre-war league games.
1926/27 - Beat Real Madrid in March 1927 on Tour 3-0. Swans reach the FA Cup quarter Finals before losing to Reading at the Vetch Field 1-3.
1927/28 - Lost to Wrexham in FA Cup 3rd Round 2-1 away.
1930/31 - Swans finish four points off the relegation places. Lost to Wrexham in semi-finals of Welsh Cup.
1931/32 - Welsh Cup winners beating Wrexham 2-0 away after a replay. Cyril Pearce scored 35 league goals from 40 league appearances during the season.
1933/34 - Wilf Milne scores his first goal for the Swans after 501 league appearances at Lincoln City.
1935/36 - Swans set up league record for longest distance travelled between consecutive matches. Good Friday Swans played at Plymouth(2-1), and Easter Saturday Swans played at Newcastle United(1-2)
1937/38 - Record league defeat by Fulham 1-8, in Division Two.
1938/39 - Swans beat Shrewsbury Town in the Welsh Cup carried over from the previous season.
1946/47 - Relegated from Division Two. Trevor Ford scores 9 goals from 16 league games.
1948/49 - Division Three Champions. Stan Richards scores 26 league goals. Swans had 7 players capped by Wales. Swans beaten 2-0 by Merthyr in Final of the Welsh Cup at Chester. Swans record their highest average attendance of 22,535 during the season for post war league games.
1949/50 - Welsh Cup winners beating Wrexham 4-1. Ivor Allchurch makes his league debut.
1950/51 - Roy Paul flies off to South America and signs for Bogota.
1951/52 - Ronnie Turnbull scores 21 league goals during the season.
1952/53 - During the 1953 Home Internationals, all 5 Welsh forwards were born in Swansea. Medwin, Charles J, Ford, Allchurch and Griffiths.
1953/54 - Three sets of brothers played for the Swans during the season. Ivor and Len Allchurch, Cyril and Gilbert Beech, Cliff and Bryn Jones.
1955/56 - Lost to Cardiff City in Welsh Cup Final 2-3.
1956/57 - 90 league goals were scored by the Swans during the season, but 90 goals were also conceded. Legendary goalkeeper Johnny King plays in league game at Centre Forward.
1957/58 - Swans concede their highest amount of goals in league matches of 99 goals during the season.
1958/59 - Ivor Allchurch transferred to Newcastle United. For the match with Fulham, the Swans fielded a side of 11 Internationals, 8 Full caps, and 3 Youth caps. Swans Supporters Club hand over a cheque for £16,000 as payment for covering over the North Bank.
1959/60 - Colin Webster scores 22 goals during season.
1960/61 - Welsh Cup winners beating Bangor City 3-1. Official opening of floodlights by Hibernian FC. Competed in the League Cup for the first time.
1961/62 - Swans became the first Welsh Club to compete in a European Competition when they played Motor Jena. The Swans played their home leg in Linz, Austria, because of visa problems for the East German side. The club announce their first apprentice professional, Dennis Lambourne.
1963/64 - FA Cup semi-finalists losing to Preston North End 2-1 at Villa Park.
1964/65 - Relegated to Division Three for first time. Lost 0-1 to Cardiff City in semi-final of Welsh Cup at Somerton Park, Newport. Cardiff born youngster Giorgio Chinaglia makes his debut for the Swans. Released by the Swans in 1966, he would later play for Italian side Lazio and New York Cosmos.
1965/66 - Welsh Cup winners beating Chester 2-1. Ivor Allchurch returns to play for the Swans.
1966/67 - Competed in European Cup Winners Cup against Slavia Sofia. Relegated to Division Four for first time in club's history. Lost to Nuneaton Borough in FA Cup 2 Round.
1967/68 - Record Vetch Field attendance created against Arsenal in the FA Cup 3rd Round, 32,796. Ivor Allchurch retired from professional football at end of season.
1968/69 - Lost to Cardiff City in Welsh Cup Final
1969/70 - Changed name to Swansea City. Promoted from Division Four. Mel Nurse sent off against Leeds United in FA Cup 3rd Round(1-2)
1970/71 - Lost at Liverpool 3-0 in FA Cup. John Toshack scoring their first goal.
1972/73 - Relegated from Division Three. Lost to Margate in FA Cup 1st Round.
1973/74 - Lost to Stourbridge in Welsh Cup 4th Round at the Vetch Field.
1974/75 - Nigel Dalling becomes the youngest player to play for the Swans in the league. Lowest average attendance for the season of 2,052.
1975/76 - Lowest ever attendance for league match at the Vetch Field for the game against Brentford. 1,311
1976/77 - Most league goals scored in a season - 92. Lost to Minehead in FA Cup 1st Round(home)
1977/78 - John Toshack appointed player/manager March 1978. Record league win beating Hartlepool United 8-0. Promoted from Division 4, Curtis scoring 32 league goals.
1978/79 - Promoted to Division Two in 3rd place. Liverpool stalwarts Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan join the Swans.
1979/80 - Crystal Palace, nicknamed the 'team of the eighties', beaten at the third attempt in FA Cup 3rd Round, second replay at Ninian Park.
1980/81 - Promoted to Division 1. Welsh Cup winners beating Hereford United. Welsh Rugby International Gareth Edwards signs non-contract forms for the Swans.
1981/82 - Swans pay a record £340,000 for Liverpool defender Colin Irwin. Never out of the top 6 in First Division all season. Lost to Lokomotiv Leipzig in ECWC. Beat Cardiff City over 2 legs to win the Welsh Cup.
1982/83 - Relegated at end of season to Division 2 despite Bob Latchford scoring 20 league goals. Record Cup victory against Maltese club Sliema Wanderers in ECWC. Beat Wrexham over 2 legs to win the Welsh Cup.
1983/84 - Relegated at end of season for the second consecutive season. Ian Walsh top goalscorer in the league with 6 goals. Swans take part in International Tournament in Malaysia, losing in the final 1-0 to Hallelejuh of Seoul.
1984/85 - Swans avoid 3 consecutive relegation seasons by drawing with Bristol City in last league game at the Vetch Field. Swans knocked out of FA Cup by non-league Bognor Regis Town in replay. Dean Saunders top scorer with 9 league goals.
1985/86 - Swansea City Football Club wound up by the High Court. Stay of execution. Swans relegated to Division Four.
1986/87 - Terry Yorath takes over the managerial hot seat. Several visits to High Court by Chairman Doug Sharpe during the season.
1987/88 - Promoted to Division Three via the Play Offs, beating Torquay United over 2 Legs.
1988/89 - Welsh Cup winners beating Kidderminster Harriers 5-0 at the Vetch Field.
1989/90 - Record cup defeat at the hands of Liverpool 0-8 in FA Cup 3rd round replay at Anfield, after drawing 0-0 at the Vetch Field. Played Greek side Panathinaikos in ECWC.
1990/91 - Welsh Cup winners against Wrexham 2-0 at the National Stadium. Tommy Hutchison becomes the Swans oldest player when he plays his last game for the Swans against Southend United at 43 years old.
1991/92 - Played Monaco in ECWC, losing 0-8 in second leg in Monaco. French side managed by current Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
1992/93 - Swans reach Play Offs Semi-final in Division Two, losing to WBA over 2 legs. Most league points in one season-73. Nottm. Forest pay a record £375,000 for defender Des Lyttle.
1993/94 - AutoGlass Trophy Winners at Wembley, beating Huddersfield Town on penalties. Swans lose to Nuneaton Borough in FA Cup First Round replay.
1994/95 - Swans beat First Division Middlesbrough in FA Cup 3rd Round, before losing at Newcastle United in 4th Round.
1995/96 - Swans relegated to Division Three. Lost 0-7 at Fulham in FA Cup First Round.
1996/97 - Swans second visit to Wembley resulting in heartache when beaten by last minute goal in Division Three Play Off Final against Northampton Town.
1997/98 - The Silver Shield consortium take over from Doug Sharpe at the Vetch Filed. Swans finish a disappointing twentieth position in the league. Swans compete in new FAW Invitation Cup competition.
1998/99 - Former Chelsea and England International midfielder John Hollins takes over as manager prior to start of the season. More Play Off misery for the Swans when they lose over 2 legs to Scunthorpe United. In the FA Cup, Swans beat Premiership club West Ham United in 3rd Round, before losing to another Premiership side, Derby County at the Vetch Field 1-0.
1999/2000 - Champions of the Third Division.
2000/2001 - Relegated to Division Three. Lost to Wrexham in FAW Premier Cup Final at the Vetch Field
2001/2002 - Dismal season on and off the field. Ninth Floor (formerly Silver Shield) hand control of the Club pre-season to Managing Director Mike Lewis for £1. Six games into the season, after just 2 wins, John Hollins & Alan Curtis are sacked, and are replaced by Colin Addison and Peter Nicholas. In October, Lewis hands over control of Club to Australia based Londoner Tony Petty, again for £1. Club lurches from one crisis to another under Petty, and is on it's knees when a local consortium took control of the Club at end of January. With Nationwide League survival secured in mid-March, Addison and Nicholas depart. After a spell as caretaker, Nick Cusack is appointed Player-Coach, with Alan Curtis returning as his Assistant. Season ends with a 1-0 defeat against Cardiff in the FAW Premier Cup Final.
2002/03 - Nick Cusack lasts just 9 games in charge at the Vetch and was removed from his position after a 1-0 defeat at Boston which left the Swans in last place of the Football League for the first time in their history. Brian Flynn replaces him and sets about improving the squad. A new record of 21 debuts in a season is set as the club's league status remains in the balance until the final day when a miracle performance by local lad James Thomas handed the Swans a 4-2 win over Hull at a packed Vetch Field, with a hat-trick of his own, securing survival.
2003/04 - The Swans got off to a great start and were flying high, this was short lived as the injury list increased. An FA Cup run into the 5th round gave fans a boost as the early promotion push ended on a low, missing out on the play-offs. The huge dip in form saw Flynn replaced at the helm by former Welsh International Kenny Jackett taking a step up to management, having played second fiddle for most of his coaching career.
2004/05 - An indecisive start had the critics calling for Jackett to be replaced. Results changed and a very mean defence pushed the Swans up the league, challenging for the title. Some disappointing results over February put the Jacks a little off the pace, but that wasn't enough to keep us from securing promotion on the final day of the season againt Bury. The season was capped off as the Swans said farewell to the Vetch with a 2-1 win over Wrexham in the FAW Premier Cup Final. The average attendance for that last season was 8,457.
2005/06 - The Swans got off to a flyer on their return to League One and were in the automatic promotion places going into the Christmas period. But their form dipped dramatically going in to the New Year and the main priority soon turned to securing a promotion place. This was eventually achieved on the last day of the normal season with a thumping 4-0 win at Chesterfield to secure sixth place. Victory over Brentford in a two-legged play-off semi-final secured a showdown with Barnsley at the Millennium Stadium, with the Swans taking 34,000 fans with them. But with the game all square at 2-2 at the end of extra-time, the Swans lost 4-3 on penalties to miss out on promotion to the Championship. There was some consolation as the Swans picked up two pieces of silverware. Having beaten Wrexham 2-1 at the Racecourse to retain the FAW Premier Cup, manager Kenny Jackett also saw his side lift the Football League Trophy - formerly LDV - with a 2-1 win over Carlisle at the Millennium Stadium, with 27,000 Swans fans there to see it. Average attendance for Swansea's first season at the Liberty was 14,155.
2006/07 - Expectations were high going in to the new season after the Swans just missed out on promotion at the end of the previous campaign. But it was very much a stop-start campaign that never really took off, despite the fact that the Swans went into the New Year on the fringe of the play-off zone. A giant-killing 3-0 victory at Premiership side Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round lifted spirits at the beginning of January, but by February 15 their form had slumped and the club were left searching for a new manager after Kenny Jackett resigned quoting lack of support from the fans, media and players. Assistant-manager Kevin Nugent took temporary charge, but within two weeks former club skipper Roberto Martinez was appointed the club's new boss after deciding to hang up his playing boots at Chester City. The popular Spaniard had an immediate effect as he strung together a five-game unbeaten run to spark talk of the play-offs again. But although Roberto lost just two of his 12 games in charge, a do-or-die final day defeat at home to Blackpool saw the Swans just miss out on the final play-off place. Average attendance at the Liberty for that season was 12,720.
2007/08 - Swans fans expectations were high for the season following on from the positive impact Roberto Martinez had on the club towards the end of the 2006/07 season in his first managerial position. It might be said that the Swans board took a gamble on a young and unproven manager, but how that gamble paid off. The Swans, during one of the best seasons in the club's history, swept all before them. They gained a club record points total of 92, securing 14 away wins in the process. The famed "Swansea way" of playing football was upheld as the Swans played a style and quality of football that belonged to a much higher standard that their League One position would suggest. For once, the Swans secured promotion far earlier than their usual habit of leaving things until the final game of the season. However, as ever with the Swans, there was a twist in the tale. Leeds, who had 15 points deducted at the start of the season, won the right to appeal this decision in front of an arbitration panel. With less than perfect timing the panel sat during the business end of the season in April. What followed probably will never be repeated again. The Swans weren't allowed to celebrate winning only the fourth title in their history until the arbitration panel announced its decision. In the end the result was announced on Thursday, May 1st, only two days before the final game of the season. Leeds didn't have any of their points returned, so at around 5:05pm on the first day in May the Swans were crowned League One champions. To finish the season off in style, the Swans won 1-0 at Brighton as they finished 16 points ahead of Leeds, depriving the Yorkshire club of any bragging rights. Second came Nottingham Forest who finished a distant 10 points behind. The consensus among League One managers was that the Swans were by far the best side. The only low points in the season being defeats to Havant and Waterlooville in the FA Cup (depriving the fans a day trip to Liverpool in the 4th round) and a defeat on penalties in the area final in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, meaning the fans weren't going to see the side in the new Wembley. These defeats were forgotten about as the Swans could look forward to a return to the second tier of English Football for the first time in 24 years.
2008/09 - Roberto Martinez' second full season in charge saw the Swans compete for a top-six finish in the Coca-Cola Championship from the start but in the end any hope of a place in the play-offs was dashed with defeat in the penultimate fixture at Sheffield United. Despite a disappointing start at Charlton on the opening day the Swans went on to impress managers and pundits alike as their fluid style of attractive football kept them in contention in the top half of the table. In the end they missed out on extending their season by six points and finishing eighth following defeats against the Blades and at home to Blackpool on the final day. Eight cup games were played in total with the Swans reaching the fourth and fifth rounds of the Carling and FA Cup's respectively; after beating Brentford and Hull in the League Cup a Welsh derby against Cardiff took place in round three at the Liberty Stadium, which was settled by a Jordi Gomez free-kick, only for Watford to inflict the same scoreline upon the home side at the next stage. And after getting past non-league Histon in round three of the FA Cup, Roberto took his side to holders Portsmouth who were beaten 2-0 at Fratton Park; it was Premiership opposition in the shape of Fulham in the next round but, following a 1-1 draw in south west Wales, the Swans were unable to repeat their Pompey success with a 2-1 defeat at Craven Cottage despite going in front through top-scorer Jason Scotland.
For the statisticians, the Swans finished their league campaign with the following figures:
Average home attendance: 15,174
Average away attendance: 1,134
2009/10 - It was all change for Swansea's second season in the Championship after manager Roberto Martinez left in the summer for a new challenge in the Premier League with Wigan Athletic. Assistant-manager Graeme Jones followed him, together with other key members of the backroom staff. Top scorer Jason Scotland and loan signing Jordi Gomez also swapped the Liberty for the DW Stadium.
The club moved quickly to find a successor, however, with the appointment of Portuguese legend and double Champions League winner Paulo Sousa.
"I want to put this club on the map," said the former QPR boss. "I don't just mean in England and in Wales, I mean in the world. I want us to be something important, something special, and I have no doubt we will achieve that with the people at this club.''
The season started slowly for Sousa as the Swans struggled for consistency throughout August. But an 11-game unbeaten run from the start of September saw the Swans soar up to third with a victory over Derby County on November 20.
Despite the fact that the Swans found goals hard to come by throughout the campaign (scoring just 40), they remained in the play-off places from the start of December right up until the penultimate game of the campaign at Sheffield United at the end of April.
Success was built on the club's superb defensive record, with just 37 goals conceded throughout a season that saw goalkeeper Dorus de Vries break the club's clean-sheet record set by Roger Freestone in 1999-2000.
De Vries finished the season with 24 clean sheets, but defeat at Bramall Lane in the penultimate game proved costly as Blackpool moved above the Swans into sixth.
It meant that on the final day of the season, the Swans needed a home win over Doncaster while Blackpool needed to slip up at home to Bristol City for Paulo Sousa's side to secure a play-off place.
The result went Swansea's way at Blackpool with a 1-1 draw, but the Swans couldn't get the win they needed at the Liberty as the game ended goalless.
Despite the disappointment, it saw the Swans finish the season in seventh place - their highest position in 27 years.
The Swans finished their league campaign with the following figures:
2010/11 - And off to the Premier League
Paulo Sousa parted company with the Swans by mutual consent during the pre-season to take up the managerial post at fellow Championship club Leicester City.
He was replaced by former Watford and Reading manager Brendan Rodgers who had also worked with the Chelsea Youth and Reserve team under Jose Mourinho.
The disappointment of missing out on promotion the previous season hurt everyone connected at the Liberty Stadium. But devastating news followed 13 days later as the whole club was rocked following the shock death of striker Besian Idrizaj. A hugely popular and likeable man, Besian passed away in his sleep back at his home in Austria. Swansea, and football, was in mourning. It quickly put things into perspective, and Swans fans paid a huge tribute to a player and person that was cruelly denied fulfilling his potential. The club would pay their respects too, with Besian's number 40 shirt being retired. Gone, but certainly not forgotten, Besian would still play a part in the Swans campaign as staff and players looked to clinch a Premier League place in his honour.
The Swans had already played five of their pre-season games when Brendan took charge of his first match - a 1-0 win over Cheltenham at the Liberty thanks to Stephen Dobbie's strike. A three-game tour of Holland allowed the new boss to bond with his squad before turning their attentions to the real deal. While triallist Kemy Agustien was a new face in the group, a few familiar faces had already left. Leon Britton was now wearing the red and white of Sheffield United while full-backs Fede Bessone (Leeds) and Marcos Painter (Brighton) also headed for the exit door along with Kris O'Leary and Chad Bond (both Neath).
But Brendan was ready to rally his troops. The manager optimistic, his squad raring to go, the Jack Army bursting with anticipation. What would the season bring?
It didn't start the way Swansea's new manager would have wanted. The first game of the season usually means a losing start, and that's what unfolded as the Swans went down 2-0 at Hull City. But the mood around the Liberty immediately changed as the Swans made arguably one of the biggest signings in their history. Scott Sinclair's switch from Chelsea turned heads. It also broke the club's transfer record, with the deal set to rise to £1.5million. Chump change to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, but serious money for a club like Swansea City. But boy did it prove a bargain.
Sinclair would be in the stands as Swansea recorded their first win of the campaign - a comfortable 3-0 home win over Barnet in the Carling Cup. Then came his debut in a comfortable 4-0 win over Preston at the Liberty. Not in the goals this time around, Sinclair would soon be a regular on the scoresheet. He carved open a major opportunity to set up an away win at Norwich City, winning a penalty late on. But David Cotterill's spotkick was saved before the Canaries struck twice going into the final moments. Sinclair, though, opened his account in another Carling Cup win - a 3-1 victory at Tranmere - before striking the only goal as the Swans signed off August by edging past Burnley. The away-day blues continued though, with defeat at Leeds meaning the Swans were without a point from nine on the road.
There wasn't a problem on home soil, however, with wins over Coventry and Scunthorpe pointed the Swans in the right direction and into the top six. Two more away trips were to come before the Swans said farewell to September. The first of them came at Nottingham Forest. It was a significant result and something that helped turn the Swans' fortunes around on their travels - strange, given that it ended in a 3-1 defeat. But moments after that setback at the City Ground, Brendan and senior members of the squad devised a plan to help sort their worrying away form. It worked. With Brendan returning to Watford, who gave him his first taste of management, the Swans delivered a first win on the road. It wasn't easy, though, as the Swans held on to emerge 3-2 winners despite leading 3-0 at one point. The month ended with Swansea in eighth - just two points off their old pals Cardiff in second.
A perfect home record of four home wins so far, and now off the mark on their travels. Things were looking promising. That promise turned into points, with Brendan's boys going through October without conceding a league goal. With all the attacking flair in the side, the manager brought that all-important steel to the Swans. Two scoreless draws with Derby and QPR at the Liberty came either side of another away win at another of Brendan's former clubs. Reading, a club in which he has a long affiliation with, sacked Brendan after just six months in charge. But he came back to haunt the Royals as Sinclair's sole strike stole the points at the Madejski Stadium. There was no fist punching or talk of avenging his dismissal - the Swans boss instead reflected positively on his time in Berkshire.
The Swans had expected to face a former manager of their own when Leicester City arrived at the Liberty. But there was no Sousa reunion - the Portuguese having been shown the door after just one win in nine games. Instead, former England boss Sven-Goran Erikkson was leading the Leicester charge. It mattered not, as the Swede tasted defeat thanks to goals from loan star Marvin Emnes and another Sinclair strike. There was a certain reunion for the Swans in their next outing. A Carling Cup tie at Wigan Athletic saw Roberto Martinez face his former club for the first time since heading to the Premier League outfit. But it was the Spaniard who got the glory, with the Swans outclassed by the Latics at the DW Stadium.
With the Carling Cup out of the picture, the Swans bounced back in style, dishing out some capital punishment to Crystal Palace in a 3-0 romp in London. Another win, another cleansheet. It was perfect preparation going into the game all Swans fans had really been waiting for - the Welsh derby. Games in previous years had not been short of drama. Stunning free-kicks, top celebrations, that coin incident and late penalties. And this game was certainly not going to disappoint. . . for Swans fans, at least. Brendan took his side to the capital, and the locals weren't happy as Emnes's deflected strike saw the points head west. Victory meant the Swans were third - just four points off leaders QPR.
A shock home defeat to Bristol City - a side struggling in the relegation spots - followed, but the Swans reacted with a narrow win over Middlesbrough at the Liberty. And the smiles were still evident as Angel Rangel proved an unlikely hero thanks to his last-gasp goal to steal a point at Doncaster. Another surprise home defeat to Portsmouth, though, saw November end on a sour note. But, as they had often done under Brendan, the Swans picked themselves off the floor and reacted in the perfect manner. The long trip to Ipswich was worth the trek as the Sky cameras saw the Swans come from behind to win 3-1, with Craig Beattie's second - and his side's third - a fantastic strike to seal victory. With their away form seemingly sorted out, the Swans were continuing to drop points on home soil. Kenny Jackett returned to the Liberty and saw his Millwall side claim a useful draw, which meant the Swans had bagged four points from their last 12.
With Christmas approaching, there certainly wasn't any festive cheer on offer from trips to Sheffield United and QPR. Defeats at Bramall Lane and Loftus Road, but the Swans at least bode farewell to 2010 on a positive note. Loan signing Jermaine Easter claimed the only goal in the home win over Barnsley to send the Swans joint second with Cardiff going into 2011. The New Year got off to a fine start as the Swans completed the double over Reading thanks to a 1-0 win. Defeat at Leicester City ensured there was no third straight win, but a 4-0 FA Cup win over Colchester topped up morale as youngster Daniel Alfei and Luke Moore made their debuts. The league remained the priority, however, and a classy win over struggling Crystal Palace saw the Swans soar into the top two.
All well at the Liberty. And it was about to get better. After six unhappy months at struggling Sheffield United, Leon Britton made a permanent return to the Liberty. The popular midfielder was given a hero's welcome when he came off the bench in a 1-1 draw at Barnsley. The feelgood factor at around the Liberty was vibrant, and even a shock home defeat to League One side Leyton Orient in the FA Cup didn't change the mood too much. Things got better in the league, though, as a Darren Pratley double rounded off an excellent night's work as Bristol City were beaten 2-0 at a foggy Ashton Gate. February off to a good start, the Swans were just a point off second-placed Norwich.
And next was part two of the Welsh derby. But there was no derby double for the Swans to celebrate. Craig Bellamy's sublime late effort earning Cardiff victory, a bitter pill to swallow for 16,000 or so Jacks. This was no time to panic, but certainly a time for the Swans to show what they were made of. They wouldn't disappoint. Four wins on the bounce would see Brendan claim the manager of the month award after picking up 15 points from 18 - the Cardiff loss the sole blot in the copybook. But it was well deserved.
Swansea's boss often talked about style and steel, and he was the proudest man in the land when his side fought back from 3-1 behind at Middlesbrough to win 4-3 courtesy of Craig Beattie's last-gasp strike. Nathan Dyer and Sinclair had already struck before Ashley Williams celebrated with "his guns" after firing the Swans level. The stage was set for a dramatic finale, and Beattie underlined Swansea's intentions when he stroked home in stoppage time. The guns were out again as Williams scored for the second consecutive game in a comfortable 3-0 home win over Doncaster. The momentum was building, and the Swans were reaching for the stars as they sat in second spot.
The winning streak continued with Stephen Dobbie coming off the bench to seal victory at Coventry, and all of a sudden, talk of an automatic finish was being taken more seriously as the games ticked by. If there were any doubters of Swansea's top-two claims, then they were well and truly silenced after Brendan's boys put on a masterclass in front of the Sky cameras once again. Leeds were in town, but they played second fiddle throughout. The national press showered Swansea with praise, and suddenly the Swanselona term was born.
But the unpredictability of the Championship struck again with lowly Scunthorpe lowering Swansea's colours before Watford pinched a point at the Liberty. The Swans were still second, but just three points ahead of sixth-placed Nottingham Forest. Coincidentally, Forest were next on the fixture list. The Sky cameras were again at the Liberty. And again they were treated to some superlative football from the home side. The big talking point though, was the impact of Swansea's new arrival. Brendan had returned to Stamford Bridge to snap up promising striker Fabio Borini on loan for the rest of the season. Interest in Borini was high, but the young Italian opted to link up with his former youth and reserve boss at Chelsea. And he made a massive impact, scoring twice as the Swans raced 3-0 ahead before fending off a late charge by Forest to claim a 3-2 win. Fresh optimism blew around the city, but another trip to a side struggling against the drop saw Swansea fall to another defeat. Preston edged out the Swans 2-1 at Prenton Park in one of the worse performances of the campaign. It saw the Swans drop to fourth, and four points behind second-placed Norwich.
Thankfully for the Swans, the Sky cameras were back in town for the clash with the in-form Canaries. Paul Lambert's side had embarked on a superb run, full of late winners. But this game was about one side. Borini got the ball rolling, his stunning free-kick - copied off Didier Drogba at Chelsea's training pitch - opening the scoring before Mark Gower.....yes, Mark Gower, fired a 25-yard half-volley to double the lead. It was pulsating stuff. The Swans had a few scares along the way, but Tamas Priskin - the big Hungarian on loan from Ipswich - eased the nerves with a late finish. With six games to go, the Swans were just a point off second place. It looked primed for a tense finish.
At a time when the Swans needed to push on, they failed to win the next three. Another cracker from Mark Gower couldn't fend off Hull in a 1-1 draw, then a 2-1 defeat at Burnley - followed by a draw at Portsmouth meant the Swans dropped to fight with three games remaining. Typically, though, Brendan's boys responded with gusto. Ipswich were cast aside after a 4-1 mauling at the Liberty, then Jackett's Millwall were tamed 2-0 at The Den. Victory in London secured a play-off spot, as Rodgers succeeded where Martinez and Sousa had previously failed. It meant the final-day game with Sheffield United was solely about deciding where the Swans would finish in the play-offs. The Blades, already relegated to League One, fielded a youthful side. And they were duly dealt a lesson as Britton fittingly polished off a 4-0 win over his former club thanks to a late finish.
The Swans finished third, ahead of Cardiff on goal difference. Now things were getting serious. Former European champions Nottingham Forest were the side standing in front of them and a Wembley final. As ever, the play-offs were full of drama. Neil Taylor's sending off within the opening two minutes of the first leg at the City Ground meant the Swans had to dig deep. Their fans fearing the worst, the Swans stood strong and delivered one of their finest performances that made everyone stand up and take notice. They went on to claim one of the most celebrated 0-0 draws in the club's history thanks to a gusty display. They dug deep, yet continued to control matters despite their one-man disadvantage. The return leg at the Liberty would be equally as dramatic. Britton fired in an unbelievable strike past keeper Lee Camp before Stephen Dobbie doubled the lead. Forest struck back after the break, Robert Earnshaw pulling one back before going within an inch or two of levelling the game in stoppage time. But the Swans made sure of their place at Wembley as Forest - throwing every man forward for a corner - were caught short as Pratley's shot from the halfway line bounced into an empty net. It wasn't known at the time, but that would be Pratley's final farewell at the Liberty. And what a way to sign off. Forest beaten 3-1, the Jacks were on their way to Wembley. A Welsh derby final was avoided as Cardiff were well-beaten by Reading.
Rodgers v Reading. The footballing Gods were looking down once again. All roads pointed to Wembley, and the Jack Army turned out in force. Over 40,000 tickets were snapped up as the club easily sold their allocation. And it proved a day that will never be forgotten. The £90million game - the winners would hit the jackpot. This was no time to choke, no time to fall short. This was the time to shine, the time to deliver. Swansea did the latter. In one of the finest Championship play-offs ever, the Swans raced ahead. And on the big stage, Swansea's biggest player delivered. Sinclair staying cool from the spot as his penalty put the Swans ahead after 21 minutes. A minute later, Sinclair made it 2-0. The Jack Army was in ecstasy, but it was to get better. Stephen Dobbie - the man who had helped Blackpool to the Premier League at this stage a year previous - slammed home a third before the break. Fittingly, it came in the 40th minute - a number now synonymous with Besian Idrizaj. It was the ultimate tribute.
The Premier League was waiting, but football is never that simple. Reading made a royal fight out of it. Noel Hunt and Matthew Mills heading in from two corners as hearts beat faster. Jem Karacan then saw his effort deflect off the post before Garry Monk's superb block denied Hunt a certain equaliser. The Swans were on the ropes, but nerves were eased as Sinclair claimed his hat-trick thanks to another penalty with ten minutes left. And despite a late Reading rally, the Swans had done it. Swansea City were in the Premier League - and the first Welsh club to get there.
The footballing Gods - and our Besian - would have been smiling down from above. Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba, Robin van Persie and Steven Gerrard. All await the Swans. It promises to be another rollercoaster ride.
2011/12 - The Premier League adventure
Following the club's promotion to the Premier League, many pundits predicted a swift return to the Championship - insisting that the tiki-tika football that had got them this far would ultimately be undone by the harsh reality of the top-flight.
And for Brendan Rodgers' men, the task couldn't have got off to a more testing start as the fixtures were released.
The Swans faced a trip north to take on mega-rich Manchester City, who had bolstered their squad over the summer with the capture of Argentina international Sergio Aguero. Unfortunately for the visitors, he didn't disappoint.
Despite holding Roberto Mancini's side for almost an hour at the Etihad Stadium, a four-goal salvo - including two for Aguero - gave the scoreline many pundits had predicted. However, it failed to tell the whole story, and the best was yet to come.
Back-to-back home games yielded goalless draws against Wigan and Sunderland respectively, before the Swans produced a battling display at the Emirates against Arsenal. The Gunners scored a bizarre goal on the stroke of half-time and despite a second half surge on the home side's goal, the visitors went home having yet to open their goalscoring account in the Premier League.
But on September 17, 2011, Swansea recorded their first victory of the season with a thumping 3-0 win over West Brom at the Liberty Stadium. Goals from Scott Sinclair, Leroy Lita and Nathan Dyer secured all three points and despite a defeat at Chelsea at the end of the month, the Swans could feel happy with how they had settled into life in the Premier League.
October started and finished with a win as Stoke and Bolton were put to the sword at fortress Liberty Stadium and the Swans came close to securing their first away win as they let slip a two-goal lead at Molineux to draw 2-2 with Wolves.
The win over Bolton was followed up with a superb 0-0 draw away at Liverpool, which led to the home supporters applauding our players off the pitch at Anfield. But the most anticipated home game in the club's history came shortly after as Manchester United arrived at the Liberty. It was the perfect chance to showcase our talents to the world and despite a 1-0 defeat, the club came out with huge amounts of credit.
A home clash with Aston Villa was overshadowed by the shock death of Wales boss Gary Speed and after a 0-0 draw, the result paled into insignificance after the news that had broken prior to kick-off.
A packed December started with a disappointing 4-2 defeat against Blackburn at Ewood Park, followed by a home win against Fulham and a draw with Newcastle at the Sports Direct Arena. A 1-0 defeat at Everton arrived before Christmas and after a home draw with newly-promoted QPR, the Swans turned in one of their best performances of the season as they held in-form Tottenham to a pulsating draw in front of a vociferous crowd at the Liberty.
It was a great way to end 2011, a year that had been one to remember for all Swans fans. But if the Jack Army thought that was good, they were in for an even better start to 2012.
The New Year began with a fantastic win against Aston Villa, in the process registering the Swans' first away victory of the season as goals from Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge - his first ever in the top-flight - meant the points would be heading back to South Wales.
A routine victory over Barnsley in the FA Cup was then followed up with a match that will live long in the memory of all Swansea supporters.
Arsenal were the visitors to the Liberty and despite Robin Van Persie giving them an early lead, the home side roared back to claim a famous 3-2 win and move themselves on to 26 points and a mid-table standing in the Premier League.
January ended with defeat against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Bolton in the fourth round. And the Swans came close to another scalp as Chelsea scored a stoppage-time equaliser to come away with a draw. A fantastic away win at West Brom saw the Swans kick off February with a bang, new loan signing Gylfi Sigurdsson opening his account in the snow at the Hawthorns.
A second home defeat of the campaign saw Norwich take all three points at the Liberty and after defeat at Stoke, the Swans turned their form around with a comfortable win against Wigan at the DW Stadium.
This win would be the catalyst for a run of three straight wins, as big-spending Manchester City were toppled at the Liberty and Fulham were swept aside 3-0 at Craven Cottage to move the Swans up to 8th. However, a run of four straight defeats led to the club looking over their shoulders briefly, but a thumping home win over struggling Blackburn meant that the Jacks were all but safe.
Draws against Bolton and Wolves followed before the Swans performed admirably at Old Trafford despite going down to a 2-0 defeat against Sir Alex Ferguson's men. But the Swans ended the campaign on a high with a 1-0 win against Liverpool at the Liberty Stadium - a result that meant the club finished 11th in their debut season in the Premier League, a truly remarkable achievement.
The journey continues...
2012/13 - The Centenary Season: Record Breakers and history makers
Following the success of our debut season in the Barclays Premier League, there was perhaps a sense of inevitability around the club last summer.
The Swans had drawn a number of plaudits for their eye-catching brand of football, and the 2012 Olympics also saw a great number of Swansea City representation.
Brendan Rodgers departed for Liverpool together with Joe Allen, while Steven Caulker, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair would also leave the Liberty Stadium as the club looked to rebuild ahead of a tough second season in the top-flight.
In came new boss Michael Laudrup and a number of new additions. But little did the Jack Army know what a memorable ten months it would prove to be…
The computer handed the Swans a trip to big-spending Queens Park Rangers on the opening day of the new season – a ground where they hadn’t scored in five of their previous six attempts.
But all that was about to change.
As managerial debuts go, it couldn’t have gone any better from Michael Laudrup as his side produced a five-star attacking display to secure a 5-0 win in west London.
New recruit Michu helped himself to two goals, while a brace from Nathan Dyer and a fine strike from Scott Sinclair – his last for the club – gave the Dane a perfect start to life in the Liberty dugout.
And it was to get even better just a week later as Swansea beat West Ham 3-0 to temporarily go top of the Premier League – just nine years after being rock bottom of the Football League.
Also, then club-record signing Ki Sung-Yueng was introduced to the Jack Army before kick-off following his move from Celtic.
Prior to the home game against Sunderland on September 1, the Liberty was introduced to new signing Pablo Hernandez, who became the club record transfer fee for £5.55million after joining from Valencia on transfer deadline day. There was also one significant departure as Scott Sinclair joined Premier League champions Manchester City, while the Swans also said farewell to some familiar faces as Stephen Dobbie, Andrea Orlandi and Fede Bessone moved on to pastures new.
A 2-2 draw against Martin O’Neill’s men followed before the Swans suffered a dip in form with three straight league defeats against Aston Villa, Everton and Stoke to end the month.
However, progress was made to the fourth round of the Capital One Cup with a 3-2 win over Crawley – a result that set up a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers.
Newly-promoted Reading were the first visitors to the Liberty in October and after three straight defeats, the Swans found themselves 2-0 down at half time. But a rousing second half display saw Laudrup’s men roar back for a point through goals from Michu and Wayne Routledge.
After the second international break of the season, the Swans were back at the Liberty as they took on Wigan. It was seen as a game that they couldn’t afford to lose and Pablo Hernandez scored his first goal for the club to send the Liberty into raptures. Michu grabbed a second soon after and despite Wigan pulling one back, the Swans held on to secure a crucial three points.
The month ended with a narrow defeat at Manchester City, before an exciting trip to Anfield in the League Cup.
But with the Swans facing their former boss, the Jacks turned in a memorable display to record a 3-1 win an book a place in the last eight of the competition for the first time in the club’s 100-year history.
A busy November began with successive draws against Chelsea and Southampton, before a memorable away win was secured at Newcastle.
Michu and Jonathan de Guzman scored the all-important goals as Swansea returned to Wales with a 2-1 win going into the visit of Liverpool.
It was Brendan Rodgers’s first return to SA1 after leaving Swansea and despite a match filled with quality, it ended goalless.
The month ended with high-flying West Brom as the visitors to the Liberty and the home side produced one of the best halves of football you are likely to see as Michu and Routledge (2) gave the Swans a 3-0 lead. The Baggies pulled one back but the damage was already done and the Swans moved on to 20 points from 14 games played.
The Swans were looking to continue their fine form when they travelled to Arsenal on December 1 - and they didn’t disappoint. After dominating for long periods at the Emirates, the visitors got their reward as two late goals from Michu consigned Arsenal to defeat and moved the Swans up to the dizzy heights of seventh in the Premier League.
However, it was Norwich who proved the bogey team for Swansea once more a week later as the Canaries came away from the Liberty with a 4-3 win in a lively game.
But the journey continued in the League Cup just four days later as the Swans beat Middlesbrough 1-0 to seal a place in the semi-finals where they were drawn to face Chelsea over two legs in January.
The final four games of 2012 saw the Swans lose just once – away at Tottenham – before securing a 1-1 draw against Manchester United at the Liberty and a goalless draw against Reading on Boxing Day.
But Laudrup’s men close the year out with a hard fought 2-1 win at Fulham to consolidate their place in the top half of the Premier League ahead of a record-breaking few months…
A packed January began with a home clash against Aston Villa and after Wayne Routledge put the Swans in front, they spurned a number of chances to put the game to bed before Villa turned things around to lead 2-1 with six minutes to play, courtesy of Christian Benteke’s penalty.
However, Danny Graham popped up with a stoppage-time equaliser to earn the hosts a point before the striker scored another late goal in an FA Cup third round tie against Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium.
Just four days later and the Swans were back in cup action as they travelled to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
It was to be a night to remember for the club as goals from Michu and Graham secured a priceless 2-0 lead heading in to the second leg in South West Wales.
There was no let up in the Premier League as Swansea earned a battling point against Everton at Goodison Park, while Stoke were put to the sword a week later as Laudrup’s men produced some scintillating football in a 3-1 win which saw young Ben Davies score his first goal for the club.
It was all eyes on the Liberty once more as Chelsea arrived looking to peg back a two-goal deficit in the League Cup semi-final, but it was the home side who put on a mature performance to draw 0-0 and book a place in the final against League Two side Bradford.
A hectic month ended on another positive note as the Swans drew 0-0 against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, with Danny Graham later securing his move to the North East prior to the end of the January transfer window.
While January was relentless, February was historical.
It began with a narrow defeat against West Ham at Upton Park, while struggling QPR were thrashed at the Liberty Stadium a week later as the Swans moved on to 37 points and within touching distance of another season in the Premier League.
The squad departed for Dubai for a much-needed break shortly after but when they returned to home soil they suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat against Liverpool at Anfield.
But the game on everyone’s lips was just around the corner – the Capital One Cup final.
Bradford had produced a wonderful footballing story to reach the Wembley showpiece, knocking out Arsenal, Wigan and Aston Villa en route to meeting the Swans.
But their journey ended there as Laudrup’s side won 5-0 at the home of English football to secure the club’s first major trophy in its Centenary year. You couldn’t have written a better script.
The Swans’ first game after the heroics of the cup final was against Newcastle United at the Liberty, and Luke Moore popped up with the winner to move the club on to the magical 40-point mark.
However, the form was about to dip as three straight defeats followed against West Brom (2-1), Arsenal (2-0) and Spurs (2-1).
Despite these setbacks, there was yet more positive news coming out of the Liberty Stadium as boss Michael Laudrup signed a one-year contract extension that would keep him at the club until the summer of 2014.
The month began with a 2-2 draw against Norwich at Carrow Road as goals from Michu and Luke Moore secured a decent point for the visitors, while Wigan’s participation in the FA Cup gave Laudrup’s men a weekend off.
Southampton were the next visitors to the Liberty and in the glorious sunshine both sides played out a dismal goalless draw, before Chelsea got their revenge for January’s League Cup defeat by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on April 28.
So the final month of the season was upon us and it began with a tough test against Manchester City.
The corresponding fixture last season saw the Swans win 1-0 and they produced another dogged display to secure a point ahead of the rearranged trip to Wigan.
Roberto Martinez’s men were fighting for Premier League survival once more and twice led at the DW Stadium, before goals from Angel Rangel, Itay Shechter and Dwight Tiendalli gave Swansea a first win in eight games and move them on to 46 points for the season – just one short of last season’s haul.
And so it was to Old Trafford for the penultimate game of another memorable season.
It was quite some occasion as the home crowd paid tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson in his final home game in charge following his announcement to retire.
The game was going according to plan for United as Javier Hernandez gave them a first-half lead, but Michu levelled for the Swans after the restart.
But just as the Swans looked destined for a memorable point, Rio Ferdinand popped up with a fitting late winner to end Ferguson’s Old Trafford reign with a win.
Laudrup’s men finished the season with a disappointing 3-0 home defeat against Fulham, but the season will be remembered for breaking records and history in the making.