Thursday 27 September 2012

Swansea vs. Stoke: not that different?

The 'top of the league' chants have stopped, the Michu goal-machine is broken and the fawned-over passing stats have recently been less impressive.

Yes, after the unbelievable start - picking up six points in two games - Swansea City have settled into a more believable Premier League season, earning just one point in the last three and looking like a poor Championship team in the process.

It should be pointless me saying 'let's not panic' because people shouldn't be panicking. However, Swans fans are understandably uneasy with the way things are going. The team need to sharpen up a little and play a bit of... well, football.

Still, it's early in the season and there is now a chance for the team to redeem themselves against Stoke on Saturday. Stoke are 13th in the table - two places below Swansea after a poor start for them - on four points with four draws.

Most media outlets will be billing this as a 'clash of styles' and last season it was very true. Stoke are a big physical side who - clichéd as it may be, but quite true - love to play a long ball to a tall front man. Last season Swansea were bullied off the ball and succumbed to strong set-pieces. But this season things already seem different. Swansea are looking to play a longer pass at times and - with the likes of Michu, Chico Flores and Sung-Yueng - are looking a tougher side, able to cope with what Stoke can throw at them physically.

Who should start in the middle on Saturday is a question worth asking. The side certainly missed Leon Britton against Everton so he needs to be the first name on the team sheet in my eyes. Michu, despite a poor spell recently, is certainly on there too. The fiery ying to Britton's calmer yang. Completing the trio should be Ki Sung-Yeung who was one of the only players against Everton to have a decent game. This relatively untested group should work well.

Nathan Dyer's silly sending off meant he missed one game (as it was two yellow cards, not a straight red), so he will be back this week after missing the Crawley game. I'd assume Wayne Routledge will join him on the other side as Pablo Hernandez looked a little useless against Everton.

Swansea's defensive worries remain worrying, though we're relieved to see Chico Flores back from his three-match ban. He'll certainly bolster the back four considerably, in place of Alan Tate who looked unable to cope against Everton. Elsewhere I think I'd prefer to see Dwight Tiendalli start at left back instead of Ben Davies for a change. Tiendalli had a good game at Crawley by all accounts and a Premier League start is deserved.

Would it be a stupid move to change Ashley Williams for Garry Monk? Probably. Either way, Williams needs a good shake after some of his worst ever performances in a Swans shirt recently.

With a defence lacking in confidence, goals are likely to be conceded - there's no escaping that. However the attacking players need to balance this out with goals of their own.

Stoke, as we've mentioned, have also started poorly and will be desperate for all three points after not winning in their last 11 Premier League matches. Stoke are without banned Andy Wilkinson, while former Swans player Mamady Sidibe is also out with an injury. They still have power, skill and, of course, height in players like Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam, though have a talented short-arse in Michael Owen likely to cause some trouble.

I feel it'll be a fiery game, with goals from both sides. However I have a funny feeling Swansea will feel the pressure away from home, especially at the Britannia - well known for its great home atmosphere. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm going for 2-1 to Stoke (at around 7/1). However with Stoke's recent record of score draws, 1-1 is a bet worth covering at around 5/1.

I'm sure none of us would complain with a point. None of us would complain with a loss if Swansea played with a little more purpose and direction than against Everton!

Saturday 22 September 2012

Swansea 0 – 3 Everton: Another one to forget!

If you are here, you're a glutton for punishment. Seriously, it's a lovely sunny Saturday evening - why aren't you drinking away the memories of the early kick-off in one of Swansea's many beer gardens?

Right... the match. Everyone has off days. Unfortunately the Swans players had all their off days at the same time!

It's really hard to write about Swansea City when it seemed like it wasn't actually Swansea playing. The players were wearing the kit, but otherwise it could have been Tranmere Rovers knocking it around.

Let's face it - the Swans were useless for much of the game. The usual smooth pass-and-move-forward game was replaced with a bumpy pass-and-lose-it-in-bad-areas style. Every first touch looked to bounce into the distance and careless passes were intercepted with ease.

Fair enough to Everton, who deserved the win and deserved to sit at the top of the table (albeit briefly). They have some very talented players. However, despite their clear abilities this season, I can only say 'Swansea made it easy for you'.

Lovely day at the Liberty (apart from the game).

What went wrong? It certainly wasn't the strongest Swansea team on the pitch. When Alan Tate and Ben Davies start, you know things will have a degree of shakiness about them. Elsewhere, Nathan Dyer and Leon Britton were two key players - maybe the most vital so far this season - who were left on the bench. They would have set a different tone to the game had they started. Don't get me wrong, before the match I was excited to see Hernandez and Sung-Yueng make the starting line-up, but in reality they made little impact.

Defensively the Swans seemed all over the place. Tate - though we love him - messed up a few times. Davies was decent in some places, but showed his naivety in other areas, and allowed Pienaar to slip past him and create the second goal, five minutes before half time. Essentially game over.

Once again we have Michel Vorm to thank for it not being 7-0, though even his distribution was a little poor today.

Nathan Dyer really looked to change things when he came on, however his feisty attitude led to two yellows - one for mouthing-off and the other for a bad tackle on Leighton Baines. However it was not just Dyer; discipline was surprisingly bad from Swansea, with a whopping (never used that word on the blog before) five yellow cards.

I didn't see much of Ki Sung-Yueng in the first half, though he replaced Tate in the back when Leon Britton came on and made some use of himself. For me, Britton was the most effective and it showed how much Swansea missed him from the starting line up. Angel Rangel also had a decent game going forward.

The referee? Well, from a Swansea perspective he was terrible, and gave Everton one-too-many decisions. But I'm not going to blame it all on him.

Two poor performances and two deserved losses for Swansea now. There's not much more to say about this game. Looking on the bright side, Swansea are still in a fine position (ninth in the table as I write this), but we can't rely on those brilliant first few games to see us through the rest of the season!

Next week the away trip to Stoke is likely to be an equally difficult game, but then we have two potential wins against Wigan and Reading - a few points from those will be vital.

Before all that Premier League action, the Swans will play Crawley Town in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. A chance for the team to get a good win and a little confidence after a few games to forget.

Friday 21 September 2012

Forza Swansea - Best Sports Blog in Wales 2012!

I did what I promised and flew the flag (...scarf) at the Wales Blog Awards in Cardiff!

Forza Swansea is now officially the Best Sports Blog in Wales! Naturally we had all assumed it was the best for some time, but it's nice to have it confirmed. (Seriously though, I didn't expect to win so I am very happy and proud by this.)

Sporting Wales Editor Hamish Stuart and Political Editor of ITV Wales Adrian Masters present me with my award

If you were at the Wales Blog Awards ceremony on Thursday night, you may have noticed I was announced as the winner. You may have also noticed I walked onto the stage wearing my Swans scarf and had a lovely photo taken.

However, my acceptance speech was a mass of nervous babble where I think I made a joke about Cardiff fans... What I actually meant to say on stage was something poignant and a few "thank you's". So, after a little time to reflect, here is the acceptance speech I wanted to give...

"Thank you very much for this award - I am thrilled. I have to thank a few people. Firstly, my readers, friends and family who always offer their support, feedback and comments on my blog posts. If I didn't have the readers I wouldn't have the blog! I'd also like to mention the other blogs shortlisted for Best Sports Blog, which were Girl on the River and Dodgy Knees and Dirty Balls. These guys thoroughly deserved their runners-up certificates and I hope one of them wins next year. Finally, I'd like to thank Swansea City FC - the most exciting football club in Britain, who always give me so much ammo to write with. From Brendan Rodgers leaving to that day in Wembley, there is always something to say on Swansea City!"

So once again, a big thank you to everyone who has read the blog over the past two years and those who have sent me nice congratulatory messages and Tweets!

I'll be back shortly for more Swans news and reviews!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Swansea City 0 - 2 Aston Villa: There's always one...

A poor performance and a deserved loss. It was bound to happen at some point, although we hoped it would be slightly later on in the year. If it helps, I almost got my match prediction right...

After a bright opening quarter, Swansea conceded the first goal when a shot from Matthew Lowton sailed past Vorm, via a deflection from Alan Tate. Otherwise the first half was very promising, with three great chances from the Swans. On 45 minutes it was still anyone's game.

Now, I'm not sure what was said in the dressing room at half-time, but it didn't help.
In the second half Swansea tried to play their usual game, but simply made too many mistakes - losing the ball through loose passes and allowing Villa to dispossess them too easily. Clearing the box also proved to be a rare difficulty today, and allowed the home side to pile on pressure.

The players all tried (or looked like they were trying), but it just didn't work out for them. Michu was as feisty as usual - picking up a yellow card - but looked clumsy at times and wasn't as effective. Jonathan de Guzman didn't offer as much support up front as last time. Pablo Hernandez looked more effective than Routledge when he came on - I wish he had come on sooner. Luke Moore came on late, but made something of himself and had the most shots out of any other Swans player (four, with one on target).

Alan Tate, who needed a good game, had a decent one. He never strikes me with pure confidence, but he made a block, a few successful clearances and won most of his aerial battles.

For me Nathan Dyer was the man-of-the-match (for Swansea at least), with plenty of tireless running. He seemed to take a more central role at times, which allowed him a few shots (including a rocket in the first half). He worked hard and tried to win the team a penalty (which - correctly by the referee - wasn't given), and caused havoc as always.

A blunder, a boob, a fault - call it what you will, but Ashley Williams certainly made the biggest mistake of the day. A casual header back to Vorm allowed Christian Benteke to take it away and knock it in. Williams made a similar error earlier in the game, but saved himself. No such luck the second time. Despite a generally superb start of the season for Swansea, Williams has struggled and made more mistakes than usual. Still, he's a vital name on the team sheet and concerned us all when he began limping around in the second half. Needless to say, Swansea do not need any more defensive injuries!

Apart from creating a few good chances in the first half, there are not many positives to take away from this game. Such a shame there was no end product to some of the exciting counter-attacking. Still, after four games, Swansea are in fifth place in the Premier League! That makes it all better.

Elsewhere, all credit to Aston Villa who didn't do anything amazing, but strung together some attractive passes and really capitalised on every one of Swansea's mistakes. This result surely kick-starts their season.

All in all, it really was one to forget today! Onto next Saturday, where the team can redeem themselves against Everton back on home soil.

Friday 14 September 2012

Swansea City vs. Aston Villa: Defensive woes...

The clearest, biggest, fattest issue that must be addressed before we discuss the upcoming game against Aston Villa is Swansea City's defence. Or lack of it...

We all winced when we saw Neil Taylor stretchered off against Sunderland. The wince turned into a violent shudder when we heard he would be out all season with a fractured ankle. One vital player down. In the same game, another defender ruled himself out of the next three games - the ever-feisty Chico Flores. He'll be serving the first of his three-match ban for his stupidly high tackle on Louis Saha. That's another key man gone.

Then we had a moment of good news/bad news. The good news was we all remembered Kyle Bartley had been signed for situations just like this! Brilliant - an ex-Arsenal/Rangers defender, eager to make his mark on the team! The bad news... yeah, you guessed it - he's injured. Ruled out for three months with a thigh injury picked up in training. Typical.
Don't fret (or stop your current fretting) - Swansea do have a few options. There are those full of potential, like Jazz Richards and Ben Davies, but Swansea do need someone with experience to fall back on. Thankfully, the club have signed former Holland under-21 international Dwight Tiendalli on a season long contract (a good-value free-transfer). He'll replace Taylor on the left. I've not seen anything of Tiendalli, so whether he will be as strong going forward (or at the back for that matter) will need to be seen.

Now... this is it for Alan Tate.

Really, this is his big chance to make an impact in the Premier League. Tate had a frustrating time last season with injuries and defensive competition, but he now has three full Premier League games to show that he can cope with the power and pace of the best attackers in the country. He will slot into the centre-back role next to Williams. Come on Alan - this is your moment.

Elsewhere, the Swansea starting XI (that's '11' for those who didn't do Latin in school) still isn't as predictable as last season. In a good way I guess, as there is a little choice among the rest of the squad.

We should see the same effective trio start in the middle: Britton, Michu and de Guzman. Originally I had a feeling Sung-Yueng would start this one, but he is likely to begin on the bench after fitness concerns. He played 90 minutes for South Korea in their World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday - we don't want to risk another injury now, do we?

Nathan Dyer, overlooked for the England squad once again, will appear on the wing. While his exclusion from the England squad seems ridiculous to everyone except Roy Hodgson, at least every time he pulls on a Swans shirt he will feel like he has something to prove, and that can't be a bad thing for Swansea City.

Joining Dyer on the wing will probably see the début appearance for Pablo Hernandez. This may be a little harsh on Wayne Routledge who has been nothing short of superb in the opening games, capped off by a superb goal against Sunderland two weeks ago. It would be good to see what Hernandez can do though, so I wouldn't say no to Routledge sitting this one out.

Now, onto Aston Villa. It's not been a convincing start for Paul Lambert's men - one point from three games sees them just one place above the relegation zone in this early stage. Without a win in 13 Premier League games, Villa will be gagging for three points.

Not sure about you, but I have a feeling Villa may nick it. For the first three matches I was optimistic but I just have this looming feeling of a loss on the cards for the Swans.

As you know, now and again I like to link up with an opposition blogger to share thoughts ahead of the game. This week we have Stuart Young from, who knows Villa inside out and has given us some brief thoughts:

There is a new positive vibe around Villa Park following the appointment of Paul Lambert. Too many people in the media were quick to jump on the Villa faithful last season for them not getting behind Alex McLeish. In reality, the vast majority did give him a chance, but his negative style of football soon turned us.
Anyway: this is a new Aston Villa. We wont make out that we will return to the heights we found ourselves under Martin O'Neill this season but we hope for slow and steady improvement to get back into that position.
Lambert, didn’t hang around, and brought in seven new faces during the summer - some will make an instant impact, while others will take time. I fully expect the new manager to stick with the same side that managed a score-draw with Newcastle. So we should line up something like this:
Lowton, Clark, Vlaar, Lichaj 
Holman, El-Ahmadi, Ireland, Bannan 
Weimann, Bent
I wouldn't be surprised to see both Gabby Agbonlahor and new signing Christian Bentake come off the bench and make some kind of impact.
It wont be an easy game for us, but I believe we must get a win and really kick start our season. 

Thankfully Swansea's first three games have produced seven points, so a slip up won't be taken too badly. This doesn't mean Swansea can afford to lose this match - there will be plenty of time to lose matches against bigger teams. Aston Villa, once a top six club, are now struggling at the wrong end of the table and Swans need to kick them when they're down so to speak.
As I mention, I'm not as confident as usual for Swansea to get a result, despite the amazing start. I will say Aston Villa to win 2-1 (odds around 7/1). Another bet I've been happy to cover recently is Michu to score two or more, this week at around 18/1 - worth a pound or three with his record!

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Global Jack Army: Catching up with Swans fans from around the World!

We can't all be lucky enough to live in Swansea. (I'm serious).

Yes, despite the beauty of Indonesia, the endless sun of Florida and the high quality living in Austria, the residents of these countries are missing one thing: the Liberty Stadium. As you know, when you don't have the Liberty Stadium, you don't have the Swans.

This may not matter to some, but since Swansea City have gone global after joining, and staying in, the Premier League, the club has picked up a mass of new fans along the way. But who are these fans? Why did they pick the Swans as their adopted team instead of Man City, Arsenal or... Cardiff?

I have been very fortunate to speak to a great group of Swansea City fans who live in faraway places (yes, further than Glynneath) and ask them why they chose to follow Swansea City, what it's like supporting a team many people haven't heard of before and how do they keep up-to-date with the most exciting club in the Premier League!

In this article we have Jacks from South Korea, India, Australia, USA, Indonesia and more, all giving us a taste of what it's like to be a Swans fan abroad, from brand new supporters to exiled Jacks!

(NB: While these are the genuine answers given to me by the fans, some have been edited slightly for clarity).

RJ Kim, 25 
Seoul, South Korea

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Since Ki Sung-Yueng was transferred from Celtic.

What made you choose the Swans?
Because Swansea show remarkable growth in EPL 2012-13 and their style of play is very attractive.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Since Ki's signing, Korean football fans have looked at Swansea with interest and now they like Swansea. Countless Koreans cheers for the Swans.

Who is your current favourite player?
Miguel Michu. He scored his fourth Premier League goal of the season already. I was very impressed with it.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
I check SCFC and their fan's Twitter frequently. When it's a game day, I watch games on television or live streaming. Sometimes, I use a live text message service from a Korean sports website.

Give me an interesting fact about your country! 
Google 'Gangnam Style' now! This is a song of PSY which is very popular in Korea. Gangnam Style has been a big issue across the border. Above all, its music video is very funny. Watch it!

Joarezka Adriargo, 25 
Surabaya, Indonesia

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Since last season, when Brendan Rodgers was in charge.

What made you choose the Swans?
The way they play is totally different from other EPL teams. It's tiki-taka from the Welsh they said. Then I started to browse and watch the games, regularly whether on TV or streaming, and started to follow them.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Not that much. But everyone starts to open their eyes widely now. They start wondering - curious, just like I was before.

Who is your current favourite player?
Monk and Tate.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
We had a fan base, unfortunately they're not as active as before. So I decided to follow some Swansea news such as you [I'm honoured! - Chris] to keep me updated.

Give me an interesting fact about your country! 
Indonesia is a beautiful country with friendly people. Surabaya has a local football club named Persebaya and the supporters are called Bonek (Bondo Nekat / Modal Berani; it means 'with just bravery') and we are the most fanatic here. Also, in Surabaya you will find a lot of good food! Semanggi is one of them.

Leo Howell, 26
Lakeland - Florida, USA

When did you start following Swansea City?
Just before their rise to the Premier League over a year ago.

What made you choose the Swans?
My family is of Welsh descent, and I have been looking to follow an EPL team for a while. I only began to like football later on in life, and had a tough time picking a team. Once Swansea were promoted, I had a team to follow and support (it's tough to follow any non-top flight teams over here due to media coverage).

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Not at all. I am the only Swansea supporter I know of in the States. [Almost - we actually have a West Coast representative just below!]

Who is your current favourite player?
Neil Taylor, hope he gets well soon!

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Most of the information I get is from Twitter, following Swansea blogs and news accounts. I watch the games on TV when they're shown, or online when they're not shown on television. I wish I had access to more of the Sky Sports online features, as they seem to show plenty of football.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
There's nothing too special about Lakeland, except that it is only an hour away from Disney World, Florida.

Jacob Cristobal, 28
Seattle - Washington, USA

When did you start following Swansea City? 
I am a newbie Swansea supporter. Decided a couple months ago they would be the team to support in the Premier League.

What made you choose the Swans?
I was intrigued by Swansea last year. I was always more interested at the clubs that get promoted into the top flight than the mainstays that were in it year in and year out. Maybe it's because of the underdog mentality that comes with the new kids on the block, and I just don't want to see them be one and done. Also, the way Swansea moved the ball in the now famous "Swanselona" style was really something to see and I loved seeing that the big bright lights of the Premier League did not scare them in their first run.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
I honestly don't know. I am sure if they keep up this hot start and continue to roam in the top ten and beyond, people are going to be very aware of what Laudrup and gang are doing. Among the circle of folks I chat with about the beautiful game, there is a general consensus that Swansea City this year could be a serious dark horse. I know a couple people want to see them finish in the top ten and more or less become a new mainstay/gradual power in the Premier League.

Who is your current favourite player?
The easy answer here is Michu. Since week one I've coined the trend (at least I want it to trend) #MICHUMANIA, but just as important to their hot start is Nathan Dyer. It's a toss-up between those two. #MICHUMANIA and #DYERMITE - still in the process of developing Twitter nicknames for the rest of the squad. Oh here's another one #ROWDYRODDYROUTLEDGE.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Being more or less on the other end of the world, I resort to stream sites. Of course the challenge is the difference in time, which in most cases means having to be awake at 7am. Then there's the special moments of matches at 4am like the West Ham match, complete with one bloodshot eye. There is that badge of honour of waking up early to watch these games and it makes the journey of following the Swans all the better. And if their matches are shown here on ESPN or another sports channel, you can bet I will watch it as well as record it for replay later.

Give me an interesting fact about your city! 
It seems that every so often there's some magazine or poll listing "the best cities to live in/work/most educated people..." and Seattle always seems to rank somewhere in those listings. It's nice, but also kind of annoying because people keep moving here. WE ARE FULL AND SEATTLE IS NOTHING LIKE WHAT YOU SEE IN GREY'S ANATOMY! AND STOP ASKING WHERE FRAISER CRANE LIVES!

[Jacob is also the editor of a great football website and podcast,]

Akshay Mhaskar, 31
Mumbai, India

When did you start following Swansea City?
I've been tracking them since 2005.

What made you choose the Swans?
Since I'm from India, geographically I have no allegiance with any English team. However I am a Man United fan. But my Aunt and Uncle who live in UK, moved to Swansea from Carmarthen in 2004. My Uncle, being an Arsenal fan, used to have banter with me over email all the time. So when he started to go to the Swans games, my interest started growing. Now they've become British citizens so I have family in Swansea and a valid reason to go Swan.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
Umm... not really. In a cricket frenzy country, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal have been dominant and now, according to worldwide glory hunter trend, Chelsea and anti-Man United fans have sprung up like mushrooms. But since last season, as Swansea games started to reach football fans live, the Swans have quickly become one of the teams to love. Much of that credit goes to English 'Tic Tac Toe', derived from Catalan Tiki Taka. I've been playing my part by making more and more of my friends watch and follow Swansea.

Who is your current favourite player?
I like Ashley Williams and Leon Britton from the current squad but I've been following Michu for a few seasons - he's a top draw wild card.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
ESPN and Star Sports in India show most of the Premier League games live. But if a Swans game is not live then I follow them on a streaming website.

Give me an interesting fact about your country!
Mumbai is the most vibrant city in the continent in terms of mixture of cultures, arts, sports and of course it is famous for the Bollywood. The city is completely sports crazy and it is a mad house.

[Akshay is also a football writer, with a dedicated Swans section on his blog The Bottom Three]

Aussie Jack, 43 (real name withheld)
Sydney, Australia

When did you start following Swansea City? 
In 1977, my Dad took me to see the Swans, Harry Griffiths was manager and the team contained the likes of: Curt, Robbie, Charlo and Wyndham. When we played Spurs in the League Cup I had probably the best view in the house when Tommy Smith gave Ossie Ardiles a welcome to English football. I am not sure but I think Smith wasn't booked for the challenge. Refs were scared of him as well as players. Today he would have gone; it made Chico's violation look rather petty!

What made you choose the Swans?
We actually lived in a Valley between Swansea and Cardiff which was and is a Cardiff stronghold, but I wasn't going to follow them a******s - even at that young tender age I had principles.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
No not really. There is a great market here, it is the fastest growing sport and they follow any team with Aussies. Everton got a lot of mentions when Cahill was in the team. If the Swans gave Kewell a season (this is an example not a suggestion), then the Swans would be big over here. Everton cashed in with a pre-season tour over here two years ago - I'm waiting for the Swans to do the same.

Who is your current favourite player?
Chris Rock, sorry Nathan Dyer - I keep getting them mixed up. Probably one of the most skilful and understated players in the Premier League. I was a big fan of Wayne Routledge last year and I'm glad that he's been given a chance this year.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
Smartphones and apps are brilliant at keeping me up-to-date especially because of the time difference. Evening matches in the UK, I am travelling into the City so I can keep up with scores and I usually get the breaking headlines when most people in the UK are asleep. I watched every game live last year on Foxtel, I didn't miss a minute, but because of the time difference of GMT and daylight saving over here, matches start at 2am. So for nine months I'm like a zombie on Sunday, and if we lose a grumpy zombie.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
The only difference between one Australian city and the next is the size of the Great White Sharks; apart from that they're all the bloody same! Sydney had one of the biggest gay parades in the world - that is totally unconnected to why I live here.

Daniel James Edwards, 27
Vienna, Austria

When did you start following Swansea City? 
Many, many years ago.

What made you choose the Swans?
They were my local team before I moved to Austria.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
At first, no. When I wore my Swansea shirts people would ask what team they were and which country they came from. Now they are familiar with the team, but not familiar enough to name players. An article was written about them in one of the local football magazines a few months back. They had a four-page spread about the passionate fans and how the club have risen over the years.

Who is your current favourite player?
Toss up between Dyer and Britton. I first saw Dyer the season he came in from Southampton. He looked so good then, and you could see the potential he had. Britton because he's small but fights for the ball like a rottweiler. His influence in play making is something that makes him rise above the rest in his position, especially for his height: small boy, big heart.

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
When they were in the Championship it was hard. I could only rely on text/radio commentaries. I rely mainly on sites such as the official Swansea website, Vital Swansea, Twitter, Facebook and Sky Sports. Now that their games are regularly televised, I watch every one.

Give me an interesting fact about your country!
It has the third highest quality of living in Europe. Also, Swansea came to train in an Austrian camp before their maiden season in the Premier League.

Natalie Jenkins, 20
Paris, France

When did you start following Swansea City? 
My dad is Welsh and has been a Swansea supporter since he was a kid, so I began to follow them through him, pretty much as soon as I could walk.

What made you choose the Swans?
As mentioned above, it was kind of a family thing. We're from the area so I guess it just made sense... regardless of where they stood on a league table.

Are Swansea City a popular team in your country?
They've definitely been getting a lot more attention since their move to the Premier League. As of late I've been wearing my jersey out and about and people actually recognize it!

Who is your current favourite player?
Michel Vorm!

How do you manage to keep up-to-date with Swansea news and matches?
It's definitely a combination of watching on television and online. I've actually found that Twitter has been the best medium because it's literally an up-to-the-second live commentary.

Give me an interesting fact about your city!
Someone told me this a while ago and I found out later that it's completely true: modern night-time photos of the Eiffel Tower are actually under copyright and aren't legally publishable without the permission of the Tower's operating company (this hasn't stopped me!)


There you go! What a fantastic collection of Swans fans! If you're from another country and support the Swans, get in touch with me and I'll do another of these articles - looking for Jacks from the likes of Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil... anywhere!

Remember you can now follow us on Facebook for updates, photos and chat.

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Flying the Swansea City flag at the Wales Blog Awards!

Hi. This is Chris (...Chris Carra) (...the writer of (...yes, that one).

This is a rare non-Swans announcement! ForzaSwansea has been short-listed for Best Sports Blog at the Wales Blog Awards 2012.

It's the third year of the Wales Blog Awards and, on September 20th, a panel of (lovely) expert judges from across Wales will decide if I am worthy of holding the title of Best Sports Blog 2012.

However, you (even lovelier) readers can help me out!

If you've enjoyed reading the blog over the past two years, you can cast a vote for Forza Swansea in the People's Choice Award category. Just click the link below and then click 'Forza Swansea'. It's that simple!

Click HERE to vote (...or here - it's exactly the same link).

While it would be a great personal victory, I am the only blog flying the flag for Swansea City FC at the 2012 awards. Also, the blog celebrates its second birthday on September 19th, so an award would be one hell of a birthday present!

Meanwhile, look out for the new blog post coming on Wednesday - a post featuring Swans fans from across the globe!