Thursday, 16 April 2015

Jack in Time: One muddy step from Wembley (with video)

After writing my first book, Swansea City's Greatest Games, I began buying a few bits of Swans memorabilia. Nothing big, just a couple of programmes, signatures, books and so on. It's probably not surprising how much affection you begin to have for the heroes of the past after writing about them every hour of the day!


My new nostalgic purchase

My most recent acquisition was an original programme from Swansea Town's FA Cup semi-final match against Preston North End at Villa Park in March 1964.

The quarter-final saw Swansea paired with Liverpool at Anfield on 29 February. That day Trevor Morris's Swans pulled off a huge shock by beating the Merseyside giants 2-1, with Jim McLaughlin and Eddie Thomas scoring the goals for Swansea. However goalkeeper Noel Dwyer was the true hero, putting in his greatest performance for his club - so much so he collapsed from exhaustion in the dressing room after the match!


Noel Dwyer (hand on his head) and the Swans celebrate the Liverpool victory with cups of tea!

The semi-final took place on 14 March 1964, with around 30,000 excited Swans fans making their way to Birmingham for the historic match. Despite a huge list of injuries and illnesses pre-game, Morris managed to field a full strength team of talented youngsters: Barrie Jones, Keith Todd, Derek Draper and Herbie Williams to name a few.

The Villa Park pitch was essentially a bog following a series of terribly rainy days, meaning the players were pretty much covered from head to toe in mud from the first whistle. However the conditions didn't deter the gallant Swans, who created an array of early chances before opening the scoring in the first-half through Jim McLaughlin's clever turn in the box.

As soon as the referee blew up for half time, Swansea were 45 minutes away from their first Wembley appearance. But sadly, it was not to be.

After 53 minutes, the ref deemed an innocent coming together of Brian Purcell and Preston's centre-forward Alex Dawson in the Swans box a foul on Dawson. No amount of arguing would change Mr Carr's mind and an unjustified penalty was awarded. Dawson converted from the spot.

The equaliser was a big blow to the Swans, who then suffered an even bigger set back when Preston's burly defender Tony Singleton's clearance from the centre of the park caught the wind and soared 40 yards, over the head of poor Noel Dwyer, and into the net to make it 2-1 to the Lilywhites.




Swansea were unable to come back into the game and the semi-final is where their FA Cup dreams came to an end. It remains the furthest the Swans have gone in the competition. Watch the above video for the brief highlights of the game.

This was just a very short overview of an exceptional period in Swansea's history. Make sure to pick up a copy of the book and read more in depth about what happened. See you next time!

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