By Huw Cooze
I’ve seen many, many games in my 40 odd years following the Swans, none more intense than Preston in 1981. We left the Millers Arms in Ynystawe early in a convoy of six cars, but by the time we reached the M4 just a mile away the convoy had split up.
Despite passing hordes of the Jack Army making their way to Deepdale, we never saw any of our lot again until we hit a pub on the outskirts of Preston. It had not been planned and without the aid of mobile phones it was quite uncanny that all six cars stopped in the same pub. Great minds think alike.
The game itself passed me by although I seem to remember a group of about 50 Blackburn Rovers supporters to our left who had come over to support their Lancashire neighbours hoping for a Preston victory in order for Blackburn to pip us at the post. Why they weren’t at Bristol Rovers supporting their own team was beyond me.
They had something to cheer when Preston pulled one back and news filtered through that Blackburn were winning at Eastville but we were still 2-1 up at this stage as I took leave and went to the toilet.
From my position behind the goal it took quite a while to push through the crowd. The toilets were located to the rear of the stand. There were many grown men there pacing nervously like expectant dads in a maternity ward. They were unable to watch the end of the game. Everyone knew that if Preston scored Blackburn would be promoted and not us.
I got back to my place just in time to see Jeremy Charles score our third goal and seal our place in history. That was the signal for all those ‘expectant dads’ to rush back to the stands to join in the celebrations. Happy days…
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Back in the day – Coach travel
Whenever we were playing the likes of Ipswich, Norwich, Sunderland or Newcastle it usually meant an over night-er with the Supporters Club, the coach would leave at 12 mid-night and travel though the night for our northern or eastern destination.
The lads I used to travel with, would all have the same idea on each of these trips, a tank full of beer at the Duffryn Club disco in Morriston with a carrier bag full of Colt 45, Skol, Hoffmeister or the odd Party 7 for the journey.
Our plan was always the same, to stay up drinking all night, unfortunately (or fortunately) we rarely did and were always sleeping before we reached a pick up point in Sarn.
We’d usually arrive at our destination at the crack of dawn with all on board looking for breakfast or somewhere to have a wash. We’d then kill time for what seemed like hours before we’d find a pub open where most of us nursed a pint battling with the mother of all hangover’s.
Not sure why we left at mid-night, was it in the day of just one driver? by doing so it gave the driver time to get his head down, and as for toilets, no such thing on coaches then, “I’m ashamed we used the bottle, that once held bitter ale” (thanks Max).
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you’re right about the Blackburn fans at Deepdale – I remember them too. I also wondered why they weren’t at Bristol. Christ it was tense. My pal smoked 5 cigarettes in the last 15 minutes even though he hadn’t touched a fag for years. I was a student in London at the time and had travelled up by train for the match. We had a hell of a job persuading the police to let us on the return train – they kept insisting we should go on to the swansea service. It was a good day. we avoided a kicking by saying we were from London when asked the time by some nice Northern lads on our way to the station after the game, and celebrated with a curry in Covent Garden when we got back. I do remember having a couple of excellent pre-match pints in a terrific pub in Preston but can’t for the life of me remember what it was called. The support was fantastic that day.