Showing posts with label Preston. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Preston. Show all posts

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!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Blaming the pitch!

I know all too well how annoying a bad pitch can be, being a keen 'Sunday kick-about on a muddy field' kind of guy, but blaming the pitch quality is no excuse for the way Swansea mentally approached Saturday's disastrous loss against Preston.

I'm not having a go at Brendan Rodgers; after all he has made the club fantastic to support and watch over the last few months, but I did cringe when listening to his hints of groundsman conspiracies after the match. The pitch wasn't the problem I feel. Swansea go into these bottom-of-the-league fixtures seeing the win as 'one in the bag'. I guess with fantastic performances such as the one against Leeds, nobody can blame the Swans for being expected to win. But there is 'expecting to win' by playing good football (no matter how bad the pitch), and then there is turning up with an air of arrogance and expecting the opposition to be terrible, only to find that they are up for a win themselves!

So what happened on Saturday? It seems Swansea did show up with a little arrogance and then paid for it. The media (myself included), the players and the management are all to blame, giving a little too much hype and almost casting Swansea as invincible (with predictions such as 3-0, 4-0 and 5-0 from some). Yes, it was unlucky giving away a penalty in the first few minutes, but you only give away penalties when you let the attacking team get well into your box, something a promotion contender shouldn't be doing against a bottom placed side. As commentators then said “it's only early; there is plenty of time for Swansea to win this”, but the Swans looked increasingly harassed as Preston looked to score a consecutive second and third very soon after.

It is odd that Swansea can literally ruin rival promotion contenders such as Leeds, but then consistently slip up against the likes of Derby, Scunthorpe and Preston. In theory this should be great news for the Norwich game on Saturday. Norwich ruined Scunthorpe 6-0, so the way things are going Swansea will step up their game and beat them 3-0! But winning only the home games in style against big teams and “hoping for the best” while on the road is not a strategy that will get them to the play-offs, let alone the automatic promotion spots. They need to up their away game and go into the smaller games with confidence (not arrogance) if they have any hope of getting to, and surviving in, the Premier League.

So, is now the time to panic? Of course not, there are still 7 games to go. The season is far from over. A win on Saturday against Norwich won't see the Swans back in second – they are just out of reach – but would see them hold onto their auto-promotion dreams. A loss would probably see them drop to fifth, and that's when it would be time to start panicking. Swansea can buckle under pressure, as we've seen, so the pressure of being dangerously close to dropping out of the play-offs may be too much. Look what happened this time last season.

Despite not always showing it on the field, all the players do want to win every game and do want to get promoted, just like the fans, so now is the time to really get behind the team and be the 12th man. The word 'believe' is being throw around quite a bit, and I think it is something we all have to do, though the words 'hope' 'they' 'don't' 'throw' 'it' 'away' are all starting to float around.

It is up to the players now, both old and new, to prove Swansea are a Premier League side.