THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Huw Richards gives us an update on  life as a Swans fan

Are Swansea fans in favour of a move to a new stadium or would some prefer to stay put?
The Vetch is a dump, but it is a much loved, highly at­­mospheric dump in which a 4,000 crowd can sound like a packed Colosseum on a bad day for Christians. We all recognise the possible econ­omic benefits of a move to the Morfa Stadium, but can’t help worrying about the possibility of rattling ar­ound in an atmosphere-less 20,000-seater tin­ can.

Has the new board made a significant difference to the way the club is run?
They have greater trust and goodwill than any own­ership in the last 20 years, and everyone recognises how lousy their inheritance was. But the cruel and ungrateful treatment of Colin Addison, the unholy mess over the appointment of his successor as man­ager, a nasty suspicion that they may not know much about the simple mechanics of run­ning a football club and failure to designate a chairman have all rather eroded this.

Who would you like to see as the club’s next manager?
Brian Flynn, a proven lower league man­ager with a record of spotting and devel­op­ing talent on nil resources and of try­­­­ing to play decent football, who is also a local, looked ideal. Since that won’t happen (al­though the story currently changes daily), Ray Gray­don has everything except Flynn’s Port Talbot origins.

Realistically, where might the club be in five years?
Anywhere between the First Division and oblivion. Given decent management, and luck, there is no rea­son why Swansea should rank lower than Brigh­ton, Rotherham, Grimsby or even Norwich. But long-term trends are discouraging. I’m a third-gen­eration Swans fan in my 36th season, 31 in the Third and Fourth. Of my father’s first 36, only 16 were in the bottom half. Of my grandfather’s, five.

Does the football club compete with the rugby club for support or is there an overlap?
It seems that they compete. The two clubs recently tested this by reciprocally offering each other’s season-ticket holders free admission. Nice idea, but both groups had al­ready suffered quite enough this season. Too many biggish cities where football underachieves (Cardiff, Hull, Bradford, Bristol, Swansea) also have strong rugby tradition for it to be a com­plete coincidence.

Milestones & millstones
1912 Swansea Town founded, playing at the Vetch Field, which has no grass until 1913. The first competitive goal is scored by Bill Havard, who later plays rugby for Wales and becomes Bishop of St Asaph and St Davids.
1920 Football League debut, a 3-0 defeat at Portsmouth.
1926 Swansea hosts National Eisteddfod. The Swans reach the FA Cup semi-final, but lose 3-0 to Bolton.
1927 Tour of Spain and Portugal. Real Madrid beaten 3-0 (and we’ve never had to play them again).
1934 Full-back Wilfred Milne scores the first goal of a career which started in 1919, and ends with a club record 585 appearances.
1950 Captain Roy Paul joins rebel league in Colombia – surprising Mrs Paul, who thought he was in Blackpool.
1964 Swansea hosts National Eisteddfod. The Swans reach the FA Cup semi-final, lose 2-1 to Preston and are relegated a year later.
1982 Swansea hosts National Eisteddfod. No Cup run, but Swans lead the League as late as Easter, only four years after leaving the Fourth Division (and four before rejoining it).
1985 The club folds for two days. Cardiff City fans are seen putting money into collection buckets at the Boxing Day derby. We’d do the same for them – every fan needs something to fear and loathe.
2000 Third Division champions, scoring 51 goals, the fewest ever by any ­division’s champion. Relegation ­follows ­im­mediately.

Fondly remembered
Ivor Allchurch~ Golden boy of the postwar generation that also including John and Mel Charles, Cliff Jones and Terry Medwin. A stylish, unhurried creator who scored spectacular goals. The finest inside-forward in the world according to Real Madrid president Santiago Bernabéu in 1958.

Best forgotten
Tony Petty~ Australian-based chancer who bought the club for £1. Contempt for fans matched only by profound ignorance of contracts and inability to ­deliver on financial promises. Ousted earlier this year in a campaign driven by the internet and Supporters Trust.

From WSC 184 June 2002. What was happening this month

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