Author Archives: huwswans100

About huwswans100

Long-suffering, but currently (temporarily?) exhilarted, Swans fan. Also Professor of Modern History at Swansea University. Cureently working on project to begin the process of regenerating the site of the Hafod-Morfa copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley.

Giorgio Chinaglia (1947-2012)

It is very sad to record the recent death of Giorgio Chinaglia who played briefly for the Swans during the mid 1960s before going on to become one of the most well-known players in the history of the game.  Here is a short article about Girogio written by Steve Hamer who was Chairman of the Swans between 1997 and 2000.  Thanks Steve for taking the time to write this interesting piece.




Little did I realise that when I attended the home Vetch Field game on Tuesday 14th September 1965 I would be watching probably the most famous footballer in the world ever to don a Swans shirt playing in what would be his last full game for the Club. The opponents that evening in Division 3 were the mighty Workington Town who included in their side former Swan Dixie Hale in midfield, Dixie went on to run the game and played like Beckenbauer with Workington sweeping all before them that night winning 1-6 resplendent in an all sky blue kit. The legendary centre forward Kit Napier helped himself to 4 goals in the game encouraging Newcastle United to lay out £35,000 for his transfer later in the season.
The Swans side that night wasn’t the worst to grace the Club and included full Internationals Ivor Allchurch, Willie Humphries and Jimmy McLaughlin along with a tall round shouldered coltish 18 year old called Giorgio Chinaglia who played up front alongside later in his career, a full Welsh International with Arsenal, John Roberts. His performance to say the least was disappointing and when your kicking off every 10 minutes in the game naturally dispiriting as a player, coupled with an attitude problem off the field, Giorgio was not old school Manager Glyn Davies’s cup of tea and was shown the door after one more substitute appearance against Brentford, a game in which he turned up for 10 minutes before kick off !
However, his father a Cardiff cafe owner sent him back to Italy where he joined Serie C side Massese before he progressed to Serie A with Lazio, a transfer which cost them £145,000 and the full Italian national team, famously creating the winning goal at Wembley for Fabio Capello to score in November 1973, giving Italy their first ever victory at Wembley, just eight years after he was shown the door at Swansea. From there on in, it was fame and fortune in New York where he literally took the USA by storm scoring 242 goals in 254 games for the New York Cosmos in the NASL and becoming one of the most famous sportsmen in the United States during the eighties playing alongside Pele and Beckenbauer. Following his footballing career he pursued a career in football broadcasting before recently reuniting with the Cosmos in preparation for their re-emergence in the MSL in 2014.

As a post script Swansea Town played the return match against Workington Town just twenty days later and lost that game 7-0, a game that fortunately I wasn’t at and Girogio had been cast aside in the reserves. Apparently Dixie Hale invited all his former team mates back to his house in Workington for a very good party  after that game. I’m not surprised Swansea had managed just 1 goal and conceded 13 in two games against a team bordering on frontier country in the footballing world !

Steve Hamer

An excellent article on Giorgio Chinaglia written by Mario Risoli appeared in the Western Mail on 3 April.  Mario Risoli is the author of Arrivederci Swansea: The Giorgio Chinaglia Story, published by Mainstream Publishing.

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Swans v Manchester City

Click on images to enlarge.  With a game against Man City coming up, here are images from the programme for the home game played almost exactly thirty years in April 1982.  This is hard to believe because this is one of the games that stands out most clearly in my memory.  It came at the end of a great week, in which the Swans had already beaten Southampton 1-0 at the Vetch, and the team stood in third place in Division One (the old highest division).  The Swans beat City 2-0 in a game played in brilliant sunshine in front of a crowd of 19,212, and it was marked by a goal scored from a fantastic long-range shot by Gary Stanley.  It seemed then that the Swans were unstoppable and could even pip Liverpool to the title.  But looking back, the game against City in fact marked almost the all-time high in the club’s fortunes.  Five of the remaining six games of the season were lost, and the club finished in sixth place in the league.  The slump continued into the next season, and relegation ensued. The rest as they say is history.  What a day that was, though, and it can be relived on Match of the Day footage to be found on the ‘golden years’  videos and DVDs.

Any thoughts or memories about that game or others against City?  If so, let us have them.


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Swans v Wigan

Click on the images to enlarge.  With a game against Wigan coming up, does anyone have any memories of games against the Latics?  No?  I thought not.  The game in August 1985, featured above, was the first of a new season in what was then described as Canon League Division 3 (now League 1).  The previous season the Swans had avoided the drop to the bottom division on the very last day of the season when, managed by John Bond, they drew 0-0 at home to Bristol City.  The game against Wigan was lost 1-0 in front of 4,700 spectators, and this set the tone for a dismal season which eventually ended in relegation.  Indeed, the club was lucky to survive at all.  Bond (‘Call me boss’)was sacked just before Christmas and the Swans went into receivership.  Those were very dark days, another episode in which the club nearly had its life support machine switched off.

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Stoke City v Swans

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With a Premier League game away at Stoke coming up, does anyone have any memories of games against The Potters?

I can’t recall anything about the away League Cup tie of 1990 (programme cover above),  apart from the fact that it was played at the old Victoria Ground.  The Swans did the hard work by drawing 0-0 in this first leg in front of a crowd of 7,806, but then promptly lost the second leg at the Vetch a week later in front of 4,464 spectators.

In 1993 Andy Legg scored a sensational volley against Stoke at the Vetch, beating goalkeeper Bruce Grobelaar in the process, but the game was lost 2-1 in front of a league-season high crowd of 8,368.  I might be wrong, but I think that there was quite serious trouble after that game.

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Kevin Johns at Wembley 2011


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Fan Memories – Eileen Morgan (1280 games)

Eileen Morgan saw her first Swans game in 1946, and her survey response contains some very vivid memories.  Click here.

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Swans v Norwich

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The Swans face Norwich at home on Saturday 11 February 2012.

Last time Swansea  played Norwich at home in the top flight was in September 1982.  On that occasion the Swans won 4-0, with Bob Latchford scoring a hat-trick, but the crowd was only 11,694.  What odds on a repeat scoreline?  One thing is absolutely certain, and that is that the crowd will be larger in 2012.

The Swans have played The Canaries 46 times, winning 20, drawing 8, and losing 18 games.  Do you have particular memories of any of these games?  If so, let us know and post a comment below.

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Alan Davies (d. 4 February 1992)

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I have been reminded that Alan Davies died twenty years ago today when, tragically, he took his own life at the age of 30.  An elegent and creative midfielder, Alan made 127 appearances for the Swans in two spells at the club between 1987 and 1992.  He began his career at Manchester United, for whom he appeared in the two games of the FA Cup Final v Brighton in 1983 , and he went on to play for Newcastle United.  He won 13 Welsh caps.  Alan’s death was a great blow to the club and its supporters, as well as to his family and friends, and it was entirely fitting and appropriate that a benefit game was played against Manchester United at the Vetch on 11 August 1992.  As the note in the benefit match programme states, he was a very popular player who was much missed by many people connected with the club.

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The Vetch – A vision of the future (1980s)

Click to enlarge. Doug Sharpe points to the future: a new stand for the Vetch

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The Vetch – The Board Room (1960s?)

Click to enlarge. The Board Room under the Centre Stand. Later this room became part of the Harry Griffiths Bar.

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Cardiff City: friend or foe?

We have now had several hundred surveys filled in or returned to us.  Thanks to those who have taken the time to complete the form, even though it does take some time.  Your memories are invaluable to a project such as this and they will be preserved on the site.

One very interesting thing emerging from the surveys is that during the 1950s and 1960s significant numbers of fans from Merthyr, Treorchy, Treherbert, and Aberdare watched the Swans one week and Cardiff City the next.  [In fact, and this might come as a surprise or shock to some, I know a couple of people who still attend the home games of both Cardiff and the Swans.  Between games they receive counselling]  When the two clubs played one another during the 1940s and 1950s, supporters mingled quite freely, and on the North Bank at the Vetch the Bluebirds fans congregated at the ‘town end’.  Although banter and only the occasional left hook was exchanged between the different sets of supporters, there was no full-scale violence of the type that became common place later.

It is possible to date very precisely when ‘aggro’ began to occur between fans of the Swans and Cardiff.  This happened on a large scale in Welsh Cup ties in 1968-9 and 1969-70 when trains and coaches were trashed and full-scale fighting broke out for the first time.  This set a pattern of heightened tension which continues to this day, even though there have been long periods when the two clubs have not actually played one another.  So a couple of questions:

1.  Do you have fathers or grandfathers who used to go to both Ninian Park and the Vetch?

2.  When, if at all, did you first experience violence at Cardiff- Swans games?

Let us know, and tell us your stories.

Some replies from Twitter:

smalclacene: “Thought my dad was only man to have held SCFC and CCFC STs. Then my neighbor admitted the same. Valleys boys, see: confused.”

Steven Carroll: “I’ve heard of someone who’s had seasons for both. Can’t understand it personally.”

There are some more articles about the rivalry here.


Filed under 1940s, 1950s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, fans, Hooliganism, vetch

Vetch Field Match Day (1)

Click to enlarge. Crowd control outside the Garibaldi.

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The Vetch and the Olympics in 1948

The Vetch and Olympics might seem to have only a tenuous connection, and strictly speaking it is not a Swans-related one, but several older fans have mentioned this game as having been a very memorable one.

In late August 1948 (in the same week that Glamorgan clinched cricket’s county championship for the first time) a Welsh Amateur XI drew 0-0 at the Vetch with an Indian XI who were preparing for the Olympic football tournament.  The fixture was played in front of a crowd of 15,000 and it was described as ‘the best game for seasons at the Vetch’.  What is perhaps most remakable is that all but two of the visitors played without boots on, but the Evening Post report was still able to praise the ‘precision passing of the Indians.’

1948 Wales v India

After the game a celebration dinner was held at the Mackworth Hotel in Wind Street.  A speaker described the Indians as a team of gentlemen’.  The tour manager, Mr Antharay, told the audience that the Indians had learned the game from the ‘British, Welsh, and other regiments in India.’  The hope was expressed that the game was ‘The forerunner of many more meetings’.  Sadly this was not to be the case, and sadly for the Indians they were knocked out in the first round of the tournament when they lost 2-1 to France.

Read more about the Indian tour here.

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Last league goal at the Vetch (30 April 2005)

Click to enlarge: The last league goal scored at the Vetch

Adrian Forbes scores the last league goal at the Vetch on 30 April 2005 in a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.  Here he is seen smashing the ball past Joe Hart who is now (in January 2012) the goalkeeper for Manchester City and England. 

Adrian Forbes is now playing semi pro for Lowestoft Town and coaching for Norwich City FC’s player development centre. You can follow him on Twitter @forbesy7 

Are you one of the ‘faces in the crowd’ on the North Bank in the background?  If so, tell us your story of that emotional day.  Were you on the pitch at the end of the game, and what did you take home as a souvenir?

A reply from Twitter:

Brett Thomas “what a boiling glorious day that was #gonebutneverforgotten”

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Unusual opponents (1): Accra Hearts of Oak 1970

The Swans played Accra Hearts of Oak from Ghana in a pre-season friendly at the Vetch on 11 August 1970.  Having just been promoted to Division 3 under manager Roy Bentley, the Swans played the African side who were touring Britain where they played seven fixtures.  Hearts of Oak had already let in fifteen goals in games against Southend and Barnsley so Swans fans among the 4,008 crowd were expecting a goal-feast.  But it was not to be.  The Swans, who were still reeling from Mel Nurse’s sudden retirement (it did not last long!), but who had recently signed Barrie Hole from Aston Villa for £20,000, won 2-0 with goals from Herbie Williams.  The team that day was Millington, Slee, Gomersall, Williams (Alan), Hill, Hole, Allchurch (Len), Thomas, Williams (Herbie), Cotton, Evans.  The subs who played for the second half in place of Cotton and Allchurch were Willie Screen and Slattery.

I remember watching the game from the East Terrace and watching the Africans provided what was probably the most exotic experience in my life up to that point.  But I can’t remember many details, such as what colours they played in.  I have a hunch that it was some sort of Zebra-like black and white zig-zags, but this is probably my imagination running away with itself as can be seen from the history of the club on the Hearts of Oak website

Was there a programme for the game?  If so, has anyone got one that we can borrow so that we can digitise it?


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North Bank (v Newcastle 1950s)

Spot the female

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Were you there?!  Let us know

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The Vetch and the Liberty: compare and contrast

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Swans on tour (Spain 1927)

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:

Swans Spanish Tour 1927

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.

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Roy Evans and Brian Purcell RIP

Forty-three years ago today, two former Swans players Roy Evans and Brian Purcell were killed in a car crash on the Heads of the Valley road while en route to a game for their club Hereford United.

Read an appreciation of Roy and Brian on a Hereford site

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White Rock by Richard Lillicrap

A closer look at White Rock

The large white jug was old but in startlingly good condition.    In large blue lettering which covered the front was inscribed

“This jug belongs to the Club at the Royal Oake at the White Rock.  May 5 1771”.

My visit to Swansea Museum on a wet Sunday was transformed in an instant from family chore to intense interest.     Up until this moment White Rock was little more than a name to me but here, right in front of me was hard evidence of the history behind the name.

I’m more than a little embarrassed that my knowledge of local history is, to say the least, scant.    I was born here, grew up in the fifties and sixties and clearly remember some of the local ‘attractions’ now long gone.    The Mumbles Railway – the most fondly remembered.  The working South and North Docks, Weavers flour mill, the Carbon Black Works, Tir John and the slag and wreckage of the works in the lower Swansea Valley are not widely missed.   But I had no knowledge of the real history.

I rootted around in the Museum shop and for around £3.00 came away with Factsheets on the Copperworks, Coppermen, Copper Industry and White Rock Ferry.     With due acknowledgement to the Museum and their contributors I’ve set out some of the story behind White Rock below, but I would urge anyone with more than a fleeting interest to get down to Swansea Museum and buy them for themselves.

The first copperworks in the area was at Aberdulais and the first on the Tawe opened in 1717.    The White Rock was arguably the most significant and was established as a copperworks in 1737.   It featured on the Swansea Valley landscape for the best part of 250 years.

Swansea was a busy port and market town back then but the population at the time White Rock opened was no more than 3,000.    The arrival of the copperworks sparked a period of sustained growth.     In 1801 the population was 7,000; by 1901, 130,000 and by 2001 230,000.

The copperworks with local coal mines (in places such as Landore, Penclawdd, Graig, Plasmarl, Morriston and Llansamlet) paved the way for growth in the docks, railways, brickworks, potteries and  smelting in lead, silver and aluminium and expansion into tinplate, manufacturing and other industries.

White Rock was set up by John Coster, a Bristolian, who is credited with having perfected the copper smelting process.    This process became known worldwide as the “Welsh process”.     Copper ore was combined with coal in a mix of 1 part ore to 3 parts coal.     The mix was heated and run through a series of 10 furnaces, each one increasing the copper purity, with the final product being 97% pure.

A final treatment would render the metal pliable so that it could be rolled,pressed and cut for the many different copper based end products then in demand.

Swansea quickly became a natural centre for copper smelting.    Although some works were set up in Neath and Llanelli, the Tawe provide better navigation.   The bulk of the ore was mined in Cornwall a short hop across the channel.    But with three parts coal it was cheaper to bring ore to where the coal was.

Most works were set up on the East Side of the Tawe.    This was ‘over the border’ from the Swansea Town Burghers who had visions of a resort town that didn’t sit comfortably with sulphur belching copper works.     More importantly was the coal wagon-way, later replaced by a canal and a railway which brought in the coal.

Ore bearing ships from Cornwall could navigate the Tawe and White Rock had its own wharf, apparently still visible to this day.   Manual labour was used to move the ore around – 70,000 tons a year at its peak.    The ships could also add to their profits by taking coal on their return journey.

The copper workers were extraordinary.     The finery men, the picklers, polers, splatchers, ladlers, and labourers.     The knowledge of the refining process was kept secret and handed down from father to son.     Jobs at the copperworks were well paid (by standards of the day) and these jobs were kept within families.     Wives and daughters were also employed and made up as much as 15% of the workforce.

One report tells of a girl, Elizabeth Matthew, who received an ear bashing for failing to turn up for evensong.   Her excuse was that she had spent the day wheeling 23 tons of ore in 150 separate loads in a nine hour shift.    That’s 24 stone each load and some 16 loads each hour.

The boys of 10 – 13 also got involved with shifting the ore and coal.   It was manually wheeled up onto the roof of the foundry to create loads of 4-5 tons.    A slat was withdrawn to allow the completed load to drop into the furnace.   Then the ‘finery men’ would take over.     They worked in temperatures of 130 degrees.    A foot thick layer of coke and slag would form on top of the copper mix and they would have to draw off the slag from the molten copper.

This was repeated all the way down the line of refineries.      But only the slag from the first refining would be thrown out.     The rest was recycled back into the furnaces.

Each process would release vast clouds of sulphorous smoke.    And a sweating finery man would consume 2-3 gallons of cheap beer each 12 hour shift (the owners later decided that water was a better idea).

The final process was to create the pliable copper which was useable.    This was ‘poling’.    A layer of charcoal was added to the pure copper and a fresh wooden pole used to manually stir the mix.    These activities were all fraught with danger.   The skill, agility, tolerance and strength of these people can only be imagined.

By 1850, the industry was at its peak.     The Swansea copper market effectively controlled the world copper price.    The town was clearly the most important copper centre of the world.     There were over 600 furnaces in operation in the Swansea Valley.

Swansea’s position as ‘Copperopolis’ declined from this point.    Cornish ore reserves were depleting but new sources were found, notably Chile.    This led to a growth in the docks to handle the larger ships but obviously hit profits.    The ‘welsh process’ was exported first to America and then to Australia as Swansea people migrated to escape the smoke, the slums and the cholera outbreaks.   And a new process using a Bessemer converter was introduced in France.

Despite these developments, Swansea continued to thrive.    In 1871, White Rock was changed to a lead and silver works and other works changed to importing and working refined copper.     Tinplate works started up and thrived for the next 60 years or more.

But there was an environmental cost.    White Rock had produced some 300,000 tons of slag that cut a swathe across the whole Tawe valley.    Kilvey Hill, and all points east, had borne the brunt of the sulphur filled smoke.   All vegetation was killed off leaving a dark barren wasteland.

White Rock was bought out by ICI and in 1929 they reported that it was working ‘atpressure’ on sheet and pipe making.    But terminal decline was now setting in and eventually, White Rock was closed.    The works were demolished in 1963 and work to clear up the slag heap began in 1967.

I can’t remember much of Swansea’s history being taught at school.     And looking back I have the feeling that the town was quite happy to gloss over its past.    The legacy of the industrial past was the polluted wastelands, the dreadful illnesses bequeathed to those who had worked in inhuman conditions and the seemingly insoluble unemployment brought on to a town whose livelihood was in potentially terminal decline.

But now we should be getting over that.     There’s an opportunity to celebrate the history whilst looking forward with a new confidence to writing our own.  The use of White Rock associated with the new stadium would celebrate this history.

Not just locally.   The stadium will become known throughout the UK football world and European rugby world – and hopefully a little beyond that.      We can wave a large flag to say – “Hey – we are proud of our history.    Swansea was the mineral centre of the world during the nineteenth century.    Let no one forget that nor the sweat and toil of those who made it possible.”

It is their descendants who will be at the new stadium to bring it to life with their noise and passion.    And the teams will carry the history and values of these earlier generations, who, through their back breaking endeavours and their close knit, tortuous, yet valuable lives created this passion that we know and love today.

Richard Lillicrap


Since starting this article The City and County of Swansea have announced the Stadium will be officially called “The City of Swansea Stadium”.    I understand the reasons behind this.   There may still be an opportunity to incorporate White Rock.   Eg – the City of Swansea Stadium at White Rock.   In time this will get shortened.   And there is an opportunity to get a small monument on the site to set out the history and significance of White Rock

Richard Lillicrap wrote this article – a remarkably good piece of local history – in 2005.  Tragically he then died two years later.  Richard was a driving force behind the formation of the Supporters’ Trust in the dark days of the Tony Petty.  I used to meet him in exotic places such as Mansfeld, Lincoln, and Kidderminster.  Now that the club is in the Permier League I often think of Richard looking down on the Liberty Stadium with a pint in one hand and a roll-up in the other, cackling with laughter about how unbelievable the re-birth of the Swans has been since 2001.

Gareth Phillips’s obitiary of Richard

Dan Falchikov’s obituary of Richard

For more on the Swansea copper industry

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Project Patrons

We are delighted that the following have kindly agreed to be patrons of the project:

Mrs Esme Allchurch

Joe Allen

Wyndham Evans

John Hartson

Kevin Johns

Mal Pope

Brendan Rodgers

Professor Peter Stead

Lee Trundle

Welcome on board.

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