THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

Comments (5)
Comment by Terry Savage 2011-05-30 23:31:15

You've whetted my appetite Mike, can't wait to see your team perform next season.

Comment by huwrichards 2011-05-31 11:58:51

Mike, you're spot-on about the recent past, less so on the history. The Swans weren't a mediocre Fourth Division team when Tosh went there - Harry Griffiths' team had only just missed promotion the year before, scoring a league-high 92 goals in doing so. Five of the players Toshack inherited from Harry played for the Swans in the First Division. His achievement was staggering, but that it was built on signing old Liverpool players was more a myth propogated by lazy cliched Fleet Street reporting (some things don't change) than any form of reality. The team that played in the First Division had more ex-Evertonians than former Liverpool players.

Comment by Fausto 2011-05-31 12:29:58

I don't know Huw, I think Toshack (the player), Callaghan, Waddle and Smith were very important to us in those couple of years. They helped to bring the crowds in initially and pushed us up out of the bottom two divisions. Also some of the home grown players didn't stick around (Curtis) and some arrived once they were out of the bottom two divisions (Leighton James). If those players hadn't given us that initial impetus I doubt we'd have been able to hang on to Robbie James, Jeremy Charles etc. Each year due to the success and big names Tosh was able to attract better players. Agreed that by the time we reached the top flight the Liverpool influence was very small but it did give us a jolt.
Anyway what a great day yesterday. Always enjoy your comments about the Swans in WSC by the way.

Comment by Liffrok 2011-05-31 22:18:24

Well done Swansea. I wonder how many of the usual lazy hacks will spend the season shaking their head balefully at the 'big clubs' losing to 'the likes of Swansea'. I look forward to some of the more established names getting a few nasty shocks.

Comment by English Republic 2011-05-31 22:25:06

Liverpool are said to be overjoyed by Swansea gaining promotion. It means they get to play foreign opposition next season ;-))

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