30 May ~ Swansea City are one match away from playing in the top level. I remember the last time we reached the first division in 1981. We were so grateful to have the experience and while we finished sixth in our first season, reality soon returned and we were relegated. This time things are different. The manager who took us up in 1981, John Toshack, was a top-flight international player who arrived at Swansea when we were a very mediocre Division Four side and almost single-handedly got us promoted. The addition of his old Liverpool team-mates Tommy Smith and Ian Callaghan was enough to lift us out of the lower division.
The inexorable rise continued each year, helped by having a generation of local players such as Alan Curtis, Leighton James, Jeremy Charles and Robbie James all blossom at once. But so much of the success was built around Tosh; when financial mismanagement and over-ambition brought the club down, nearly three decades of misery followed.
It's different this time because while it is only eight years since we were having to beat Hull at the Vetch on the last day to stay in the League (still my favourite ever day watching the Swans), the club has been transformed, both in the way it is run and also in the distinctive style of football we play. The current board are low profile and have made good decisions. The key moment was appointing a popular former player Roberto Martinez as manager. He brought in some Spaniards and we played superb passing football to win promotion from League One. Paulo Sousa continued the style of play but his side failed to score consistently. The current boss, Brendan Rogers, is tactically astute and the football we have seen over the past few years is simply sublime.
The town will be empty today and while everyone is desperate to win, there isn't the usual air of pessimism. If defeated I doubt we will lose many players, because it is a team built around a certain style and not individuals. Swansea City make more passes per game than any other team in Britain. If I were a neutral I would love to see this style of football mixing it with the athletes of the Premier League. I'd love to see Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea come to Swansea, but I'd also love to see how we would cope against Stoke, Bolton and Sunderland. More than anything I would love to see them chasing around the field for 90 minutes, trying to get the ball off us.
Swansea needs this, as a town. It would be great for Welsh football. I'd love it to be a nail in the coffin of the myth that rugby is our national sport, but more than anything I want the world to see how Swansea City play the game. Mike Daley