In May-June 1927 the Swans undertook a tour to Spain, and also played games in Lisbon and Paris on the way home. The tour was a great pioneering venture, but it was undertaken against a background in which the majority of the first team squad had refused the contract terms offered by the club for the following season.
The first game, played in Madrid, was against Scottish club Motherwell on 15 May and was lost 0-1. However, the match, played in front of King Alphonso, was described as being a ‘brilliant display of scientific football’. Other games in Spain were as follows:
19 May v Spanish Army in Madrid. Lost 2-3.
22 May v Bilbao in Bilbao. Won 2-1.
26 May v Motherwell in Barcelona. Lost 0-1.
29 May v Catalonia Athletic in Barcelona. Won 2-1.
The game against Catalonia was the first occasion on which a British team had won in Barcelona. It is also worth noting that the Swans did not play Real (or Royal) Madrid on this tour, as is sometimes thought, although presumably the pennant of that team that the club now has in its possession was presented before one of the two games played in the Spanish capital. Neither did the Swans play Celtic on this tour, as has been suggested in some books. They played Motherwell twice because that club was also on tour and the games were organised to showcase British soccer in front of Spanish audiences.
The Swans then moved on to Portugal where they drew 1-1 with Lisbon (S.L. Benfica). The return home to Swansea was interrupted by a final game in Paris versus Red Star who were defeated 4-1. This match was notable, though, because it saw a ‘series of squabbles between the players which degenerated into free fights’. Clearly this was a lively affair, and it was reported that a ‘considerable portion of the crowd broke onto the pitch’.
Reflecting on the tour as a whole, the South Wales Daily Post reporter who accompanied the team thought that the players had been ‘handicapped by the heat’. In addition, he noted that ‘considerable misunderstanding was caused by the Continental rule that the goalkeeper must not be touched.’ More generally the Post also thought that the players might have been affected by their brief encounter with Spanish culture as can be seen from this cartoon:
We would like to build up a full record of the Swans overseas tours so if you have any details or memories of pre-season trips abroad please send them to the site. Muchos gracias.