By Jules Price
Mike Hughes played for the Swans between 1983 and 1988, making 139 appearances for the club. However, after making 101 consecutive appearances and not missing a game for three years, Mike was advised by neurosurgeons not to continue as a full-time football player.
I remember going to Mike’s testimonial match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Vetch Field. It was the first time Paul Gascoigne played for Spurs after his transfer from Newcastle United. Gascoigne scored a 25-yard free kick that evening.
|Mike in action for the Swans in the 80s|
I had the pleasure of watching Mike play in goals for many years when I was growing up and supporting the Swans. In my opinion he was one of the best ever keepers for the Swans. Therefore it is my absolute pleasure to be able to interview him.
Fans who were supporting the Swans during that period were very saddened to hear of Mike’s forced retirement. Still a Swansea City fan, here Mike tells us about the injury that forced him into retirement, the best player he played with and against and his ongoing love of the club.
(Note: Interview was carried out before the Malmo home game)
|Mike in the present day: still a Swans fan!|
What is your favourite memory of playing for the Swans?
No one thing stands out for me apart from it being a dream come true for a kid to progress from the North Bank to the hallowed turf of the Vetch Field and play in front of the Jack Army. I always had tremendous support from them even through the not-so-great times.
Who was the best player in the Swans team at that time?
I played with some very good players in the eight years I spent at the club. The best by a mile even at his age was the late great Robbie James. The guy was a legend. The world's worst trainer but what a player and what a guy. Very sadly missed.
Who was the best player you played against?
Probably Kevin Keegan at Newcastle. We kept them out for 80 minutes until he changed the game with a piece of magic only someone of his ability would have produced. Class.
What were the symptoms/illness that caused you to retire early?
I received two bouts of concussion during games at home to Bristol City pre-season and again at Crewe four months later and could not shake off the headaches. Following a scan at the hospital, neurosurgeons informed me that it was too great a risk to continue as a full time player. To say I was devastated was an understatement as I had not missed a first team game for nearly three years and had played 101 consecutive games at that point.
Your testimonial match was against Spurs when Paul Gascoigne played his first ever game for Tottenham. What are your memories from that game?
To be honest not a lot. I still have the game on video and have never watched it apart from the after match events in town. Not the happiest of memories to be honest.
Do you keep in touch with any of your old teammates?
Not on a regular basis but I have seen a few of them at various games and it is always nice to catch up.
What did you do after your retirement from professional football?
I initially worked in the financial services sector until joining HM Prison Service at Swansea in 1990. I then spent 13 years as a Physical Education Officer at various establishments before taking a managers role at HM Prison Chelmsford, where I have worked for the past 11 years.
What was the last Swans game that you went to?
Southampton at home last season, but as I write I will be at the Malmo game. I was at all the London games last season and it was a fantastic experience seeing us win at QPR, Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham as well as drawing at Norwich.
Since your retirement the Swans have had some great keepers including Roger Freestone, Rhys Wilmot, and Michel Vorm. In your opinion who had been the best ever Swans goalkeeper?
To be honest, I would have thrown Dorus de Vries in there as well for the contribution he made before his very poor lapse in judgement to leave! 24 clean sheets in a season - wow! However, despite Michel Vorm being our number one, I am personally a big fan of Gerhard Tremmel and would like to see him get more game time after his exploits last season.
Finally, do you think the Swans can keep on progressing? Ultimately what do you think they can achieve?
Why not? But when you are up against the likes of Man City and Chelsea who have billionaire owners, we have to be realistic. To finish ninth and win the League Cup was beyond everybody's dreams last season. I guess to match this again and make a reasonable mark in Europe will be progression this season. I for one cannot wait - starting with Malmo. COYS!
A big thank you to Mike for taking the time to answer these questions.You can follow Mike on Twitter @mike_hughes01 and you can follow Jules via @jpswansea.