Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Swan in Seattle

In bed, through one bloodshot eye - that's how Seattle-based Swansea City fan JACOB CRISTOBAL watches his newly-adopted team. In his debut ForzaSwansea blog post, he explains how he fell in love with a club that play the beautiful game over 4,500 miles away.


There's something special about watching Swansea City, and the overall narrative of who they are and what they're trying to accomplish.

Most fans of the game here in the US tend to start off with finding a favourite in England's top flight before branching out to finding favourites in other places, including our own domestic league, Major League Soccer.

I was going through the motions of picking a Premier League side. Most of my friends already had their allegiances with someone of the "Big Four" and, while I was close to following suit, I wanted to expand my horizons.

My personal preference is to go for the new and in Swansea City's case they were the newest of new. Their first time ever being in the Premier League as well as being the first Welsh club to do so definitely struck a chord with my way of thinking and throughout the 2011/12 season I kept an eye on what they were doing.

The confirmation of picking and following them didn't really come until the summer of 2012. No, this wasn't like LeBron James' The Decision, though one of my friends tried to make a campaign for me to swear allegiance to Chelsea.

Looking at where Swansea City finished in their maiden voyage was very impressive and truth be told there are a couple aspects about Swansea City that I just like and, most likely, only by my logic make sense. They are:
  • The Swanselona nickname - having been dazzled over the years by FC Barcelona, this is a no-brainer.
  • Their crest is a beautiful design of simplicity and echoes something you'd see out of the DHARMA Initiative (yes, that's a reference to the series LOST).
  • Their nickname, the Swans - where sports typically go for aggressive nicknames, you have the swan. How can you not like that?
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Living on the west coast of the US, I'm in the unique position of catching Swansea City matches from the comforts of bed, through an Internet stream and with one bloodshot eye. When kick-off happens over in the Premier League, most of the time it's 7am here in Seattle. So you can already imagine the process when those lunch time kick-offs happen and it's 4am here.

Sometimes the Swans are on TV and in those cases I have to endure Steve McManaman's attempts to use words to form sentences to make a point about who knows what! Then again, this is how it is following practically any European league match live. I would never complain about it because without the marvels of technology, discovering Swansea City and getting to know some of the fans would not be possible.

Chris asked me where Swansea City lie in terms of how American fans view them - I would say they are of two outlooks.

First they could be seen as a mid-table team who will make a little bit of noise, but ultimately lie in the middle of the pack. Something akin to your Stoke City and Fulhams of the world. Not competing for the Premier League title, but not trying to pull off a great escape from relegation.

The other outlook is that with their immediate success and feel good story of winning the League Cup and possible advancements in European competition, Swansea City could become an alternative for those looking for a Premier League team to root for that aren't part of the old, established giants.

I'm not saying the Swans themselves are going to be Premier League giants any time soon, but they are building a great case to attract more people to not just how they play and the stars they have, but how the club is managed and most importantly the fair and good people that support the club.

And that is one of the biggest aspects about Swansea City that I've come to like over the journey so far - the people. Those that I've interacted with over social media have welcomed me with virtual open arms and I've noticed that not one of them has ever felt the club was entitled to any of the success. Yes, the want is a great burning desire, but those that I've talked to know what's happening before them is special and they are just enjoying and appreciating the ride.

As the saying goes, the rest is history.

No one is going to be able to say where Swansea City will go next but the ride they're taking fans on, both old and new, has been a blast. It's roughly 4,600 miles between Seattle and Swansea and while I hope to one day close that distance and attend a match at the Liberty Stadium, near or far this guy says thank you and let the good times roll.

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