Thursday, 30 October 2014

True Grit: The Alan Tate story

I was originally going to write a poem or something to express my admiration for one of my favourite Swansea City players, but I decided that poetry was not the right way to go about it...

However, I do feel it's time to write a little something on one man who truly embodies the spirit of Swansea City - Alan Tate.

We all dream...

That's right, it's sometimes easy to forget about Tate. And although we no longer see him on the field, on the bench or in the media, he is still a Swansea City player, on paper and in heart, as he has been for the past 12 years.

We can also forgive some of the newer Swans fans for not really knowing much about him as it's been some time since he last took to the pitch wearing the white shirt of Swansea City.

Born in County Durham in 1982, Tate joined Manchester United as a youngster, eventually finding himself on loan with Brian Flynn's struggling Swansea City in 2002. He played his part in the football league survival match against Hull City in May 2003 before rejoining the Swans permanently in February 2004 (after another successful loan spell in between).

A gritty, tough and versatile defender, Tate became a true fan favourite during his time with Swansea. From 2004 he was a staple of the first team, playing in his fair share of important games such as the Football League Trophy Final match against Carlisle in 2006. At the end of the game both him and Lee Trundle cemented their place in Swansea City folklore with the now iconic 'F**k off Cardiff' flag incident.

Forever loved in Swansea, forever hated in Cardiff

Tate also captained the team at times as the Swans made their way from League Two to the Championship and, even though he began featuring less and less under Brendan Rodgers, he was called into action for two of the Swans' most important ever games during the Championship play-off matches 2011 - solid against both Nottingham Forest in the semi and Reading in the glamorous Wembley final.

But his time in the Premier League never really came. Of course he played a handful of matches under Rodgers and was even given a brief cameo against his former side at Old Trafford in May 2012, but he was one player who - for all his grit, determination and club pride - could not make the step up.

After falling out with Michael Laudrup, Tate has since played out on loan at Leeds United, Yeovil Town, Aberdeen and Crewe Alexandra. But he remains a Swansea City player, for now at least.

So where does his future lie?

While it's a sad statement to make, it's safe to say that his playing days with Swansea are pretty much over. However, with his old mate Garry Monk currently steering the ship, Tate may find his way back to prominence with a coaching role. And I'm sure that would be a decision that 99% of Swans fans would be happy to back.

In 2013 the club planned a testimonial match against Manchester United to celebrate Tate's decade of hard work, but unfortunately this failed to materialise due to conflicting Premier League fixtures. The testimonial match is currently postponed, with no new date as yet.

Whatever happens, Tate deserves a testimonial, whether it's this year (his actual 10 year anniversary of joining Swansea permanently) or next. He definitely deserves it.

Once a Jack, always a Jack.

No comments:

Post a comment