This weekend, I made the long journey home from Portland to the UK. It’s all in a good 15 hours of sitting on planes, in airports and awkward sleeping positions. Being home for just 48 hours means there isn’t much reason to get used to the sleep patterns, so early wake ups, was the name of the game.
Yes it seems a bit much to fly all that way home ‘just for a game’ but if you know the history of the team I follow, Swansea City, then you will know why it wasn’t even a question. I’ve been supporting the Swans since I was around 11 I suppose, once I realized that watching Premier League clubs at the time, was a bit like going to the circus. Your entertained, but you definitely don’t belong.
The Jack Army in full voice.
So my dad says I probably went to my first Swans match in a push chair when we were n the old division one, under John Toshack, before being relegated 3 times to the 4th division. So most of my early years when other kids at school were wearing Man Utd shirts, I was coming in to school with my Swansea shirts. I always loved going to the away games, as all the fans are so committed, and this is something that with the premier league we have really seen, the erosion of atmosphere at stadiums, whilst seating is safer and hopefully ensures we never see another tragedy such as that of Hillsborough, it has meant that football at times has gone from participation to purely spectators watching. You saw it yesterday at the league cup final. The Bradford fans need a huge show of respect for their fans. They were up for it from the beginning, and were making a right old racket. However on the 69th minute they all started clapping, flag waving. I’m assuming this was because we scored around the time they were going to re,ember to 59 people who lost their lives in the tragedy at their stadium, so anyway, they were up waving, clapping, singing, and in turn, the whole Swansea end, we all stood up and clapped them as a mark of respect to their fans, and the fans they lost.
Sheepshaggers, facepainters,Daffodils, jack army.
That is where football is special. It nots about the plastic fans that ‘follow’ Man Utd because they are successful, or are on TV, Football is about those Bradford fans, who at 4 nil down, sing their hearts out, and make their town and city proud. The Premier League is really going about pricing out real football fans out of the game. I think the 62quid tickets for the Man City Arsenal game are testament to that. Whilst the premier league has made the world watch English football, it is also cutting off the football league in terms of player progression. When was the last time a player moved up the leagues to great success. One of the few is Swansea’s very own Leon britton who moved to us from West Ham 10 years ago, and played Midfield alongside Roberto Martinez, and was one of those who kept us in the football league. Little did he know. The next 10 years have been like a fairy tale for Swansea fans, and should serve as a reminder to all football fans, with a good structure, a chairman who is solid, won’t be messed around by agents, and has a philosophy, anything is possible.
This is how pre drinking looks at Wembley.
Swansea are owned 20% by the fans, and in Huw Jenkins we have a chairman who knows how to run a club, well, he does come from a history in local business. There have been players through our history who have tried to upset the wage structure and make huge demands of the club, and he has sent them all packing. Gylfi Siggurdson, Darren Prately, Doris De Vries, Scott Sinclair, the list goes on and on. None of them have done as well as they thought they would, and yet we Swans rise higher and higher. First promotion to league one, them to the Championship, with an unforgettable season under Brendan Rodgers, then promotion to the premier league, and them after another great season with Brendan he went the way of Liverpool and we were blessed with Michael Laudrup, the legend himself who has taken us top ten in the league and into Europe through a thumping win at Wembley. People will say that we were lucky with playing Bradford, but remember we won 3-1 at Anfield against Liverpool and over two leagues against Chelsea. In winning the league cup, we have achieved what Everton and Arsenal haven’t managed in a combined 18 seasons.
Quite how much it means the fans who were there yesterday or in wind street watching is each to his own, as everyone has their own story of their love hate relationship watching the swans. Mine for example would be yesterday and the play off finals as some of the best times, and losing 7-0 at Fulham away a few years back.
I suppose that’s what football captures the emotions so much. The game is a part of it, but the rest of it is what makes it special. Going to the football with your dad, taking your son, whatever it maybe, it’s something which means a lot to everyone there. The pre match drinks, the banter on the stands, the talking to a police horse after a game, the fact everyone thinks they are a manager, it’s what makes it so special.
The days watching your team like this make it all worth it, and yes there will be tough times again in future, but for now, we are enjoying it, and pinching ourselves that the team passing rings round everyone is our team.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed Sunday as much as me.