Unless you’re a keen follower of the Football League or you were watching top flight football back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, this may be the first time many of you readers are coming across Swansea City. Swansea (pronounced “Swonzee”) is situated in a city of the same name, west of London by 3 ½ hours by car or train.
The team plays in an all white strip with a black trim and our mascot is a 9ft swan with an attitude problem called Cyril. The team’s nicknames are the Jacks or the Swans — with the fans calling themselves the Jack Army. What the fans lack in size they make up for in passion. Together with Wales being famous for singing, they make for a good matchday experience.
Historically Swansea was seen as the hotbed for Welsh footballing talent. Players who would then be bought by richer clubs in England. The greatest of them all being John Charles “The Gentle Giant” who got snapped up by Leeds, who then sold him on to Juventus. Charles’ accomplishments with Juventus led to him being voted ‘the greatest foreign player ever in Serie A’, ahead of Maradona, Michel Platini, Marco Van Basten and Zinedine Zidane – this in 1997, 34 years after his last appearance in the league. In 2001 he became the first non-Italian inducted to the Azzurri Hall of Fame. Not bad for a Swansea boy.
Another player worth mentioning is Giorgio Chinaglia. Born in Italy and raised in Wales, he still today has a bit of a Welsh accent. The Swans released him early in his career because of disciplinary problems; he would then go on to play for Lazio and the Italian national side as well as the New York Cosmos.
More recently the hotbed has shifted 40 miles east towards Cardiff, Swansea’s bitterest rivals. They’ve produced three top players in Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey over recent years. However, with the Swans newly acquired funds, money can be invested into hopefully producing the John Charles of tomorrow.
The club has come a long way both on and off the pitch. In the late 70s and early 80s, they moved from the bottom of the Fourth Division to Division One in 8 years, More recently, they moved from their old stadium “The Vetch” to their 20,000 seated Liberty Stadium. This whilst playing controlled attacking football which some say is akin to the way Barcelona play, leading to the many in the media nicknaming them Swanseaola. There are definitely similarities as the stats back it up, with the Swans averaging over 500 passes per game last season, 90 more than their nearest rivals. However, Swansea’s manager Brendan Rodgers was once an understudy to Jose Mourinhio, so I can also see similarities to the way he sets his teams up. But in my opinion the name should be “Real Swanseaola”.
With the current team, this side will struggle to get goals in the Premier League. Therefore Rodgers needs to spend some of that initial £40 million to get a couple of strikers in (he already bought Championship leading scorer Danny Graham from Watford earlier this week for a Swansea record transfer buy of £3.5m), as well as adding depth to the current squad. However, in my opinion more than 5-6 new players would destroy the team’s togetherness which is imperative if we are to stay up.
Before I leave you, here are several songs the Swansea fans sing during games: