Thursday 24 January 2013

Swansea City: Historic semi-final and a boy with a ball

Another trip to Wembley looms after Swansea City hung on to a 2-0 aggregate victory over Chelsea at the Liberty stadium last night. The game certainly had its share of drama, but the important thing is a cup final is now just a month away and a trophy is just 90 minutes from that.

Swansea performed very well over two legs - first nicking a good win at Stamford Bridge, then playing their away game at home, with deep defending and exciting counter attacks, absorbing Chelsea's limited pressure.

Ashley Williams and Chico Flores were both outstanding and deserved to share man of the match (though Williams took the award himself). Gerhard Tremmel showed why he has made first choice keeper throughout this cup. Leon Britton was rapant as usual, despite the golf ball sized lump on his head after an accidental elbow. Wayne Routledge was, again, brilliant - he has really found his stride and has been consistent for so many games. Overall there were no underachievers last night.

But, annoyingly, most of the post-game chatter wasn't about Swansea's historical feat of a Wembley league cup final. Instead talk was shadowed by #ballboygate. And it seems this blog post will be overshadowed by it too...

Firstly, I don't believe Hazard should have kicked the ball boy, no matter how frustrated he was. But looking into it, 'ball boy' (whose real name is Charlie Morgan) is not an innocent child as we all first thought. He is 17 - and he actively planned to time waste. Check his Twitter account for the full confession.

I feel a little sympathy for Hazard, despite him being a diver himself. It wasn't the 'Hazard kicks a child' scenario we all thought at first, but more 'a 22-year-old kicks a 17-year-old for interfering with the game.'

The ref had no choice but to red card him, but I can see why Hazard was frustrated. Ultimately, ball boys aren't there to interfere with games, they're there to assist - no matter what the team, no matter what the competition. I may take stick for saying that, but it's what I believe.

I'm not complaining as such - Swansea had an easier ride after Hazard was sent off - but the truth is Swansea didn't need time wasting from an adolescent to see them through. They were doing a fine job of making their way to Wembley by playing good football. 

The only other things of note in the match, I felt, were a few of the Swans' chances were wasted. Many was the time that players (notably Ki and Hernandez) had an opportunity to uncork a shot at the target but hesitated and/or passed. Sometimes a shot is worth taking, even if it is way off target. It's not always easy to pass it in, like in the Championship days (remember those)?

Onto Wembley next month for a certain cup win against minnows Bradford! Not so fast - Bradford aren't in the final for no reason. It'll be a tough game, but the Swans certainly have to fancy their chances now. Favourites going into a final - who'd have thought it!?


  1. Can't really argue that the lad was being a bit slow, but I don't think the lead up to this incident has been accurately described in most web blogs. It was a Swans' goal kick and the ball boy had gathered the ball somewhat slowly after letting it bounce off the barrier. The keeper was moving towards him. Hazard then ran up to the lad and tried to wrestle the ball from him. My perception is that there was a bit of a struggle which led to the lad being pushed over. He responded by trying to lie on the ball as Hazard again tried to grab it. Then we have the kick in all the gifs. It was out of order end of story, and there has been a shade too much blaming the victim. This may help Eden reign in his ego, something for which he has a bit of a track record.

  2. It's just from what I've seen it looked like the ball boy (/man) was happily laying on the ball, and making no effort to get up. Plus his Twitter account saying he was off to time waster at the match back it up.

    Thanks for the comment though and thanks for reading!

  3. I think the Ball boy cannot be blameless he has obviously tried by whatever means if he had the opportunity to slow things down. As you said Chris it made no differnec to the game. This wont tarnish Swanseas reputation as a great club but the son of a board member should have known better and certainly Chelsea fans will not be too friendly and the next game at stamford bridge

  4. Massively annoying that all the headlines were taken away from the players and ML for some chubby lad who now thinks hes some kind of celeb...... Hopefully it wont get a mention if and when we turn Bradford over.

    We'll need to defend set pieces - that is for sure.

    London Jack