We had rehearsed our part. We had caught up with the new signings, with the promotions from the reserves. We knew all about the prospects for the coming year not only in the English League, but also in the Football Combination, and the Welsh League. We knew all about our opponents – for we identify ourselves with the place which commands for the time being our presence – and were accordingly prepared to depreciate any action originated by West Ham United that was likely to disturb our temporary loyalty. We had read two evening and three daily newspapers. We had obtained the latest and the most authentic information from the nearly subterranean offices of the club, where we had gained our stand tickets, and where the presence of my eleven-year-old companion had loosened tongues that otherwise might have been laconic.
We sat down in excellent time and observed the craze two-tiered stand behind one goal; the signal gantry behind the other which was to have – but did not –semaphore the half-time scores; the long thin line of spectators perilously close to the opposite touchline; the ageless parade of the borough police force; and the great mountains in the middle distance, taking suburban Swansea rather closer to the heavens than suburbs as a rule deserve to go.
Percy Young, Football Year (1958).
Filed under 1950s, fans, vetch
Newsreel footage of Swansea Town FA Cup and Welsh Cup matches from the 1950s and 1960s.
Newsreels were shown at the cinema before the main feature. In the 50s and 60s, with little football on tv, they were most the common way for fans to see big clubs in action or the important away games of their own teams.
FA Cup round 5, Swansea Town v Newcastle United 1952
Newcastle United v Swansea Town, FA Cup round 3, 1953
FA Cup round 4, Swansea Town v Stoke City 1955
FA Cup round 5, Swansea Town v Sunderland, 1955
Burnley v Swansea Town, FA Cup 1961
Welsh Cup final 1961 Swansea Town v Bangor City, Ninian Park
Preston North End v Swansea Town, FA Cup semi-final 1964 at Villa Park
Filed under 1950s, 1960s, FA cup
An appropriate item previously published in a match-day programme: during this Jubilee year, we can look back 60 years to the Coronation to catch a glimpse of Swans’ royalty.
With Newcastle United in town, it’s the perfect time to unveil a rare
photograph of the legendary Ivor Allchurch. Known affectionately as the ‘Golden Boy’, Ivor is widely regarded as Swansea’s finest post-war footballer. Signing professional at the Vetch Field in May 1947, the Welsh international inside-forward was leading marksman three times for the Swans before moving to Newcastle United in October 1958 for £28,000 plus Reg Davies. Awarded the MBE, he later worked as a storeman and died in Swansea in May 1997.
Lifelong Swans supporter Steve Meredith sent us the photo on behalf of
his mother, Veronica Meredith. Ivor is pictured kicking off a celebration match for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952 on ‘The Black Road’ which is now the Cwm Level pitches and a stone’s throw away from the Liberty Stadium.
Steve said: “He agreed to kick off the celebrations as he was a
Landore boy. He lived in Landeg Street next to where my mother lived
and knew everyone there. My mother lived right behind the Coopers pub
which is still there today. My gran Marie Grey is in the picture (left) and the two other ladies are May Leach and Mrs Fitzgerald.”
Ivor made 445 appearances and scored 164 goals for Swansea City, as
well as gaining 68 caps for Wales and scoring 23 goals at
international level. He starred for Newcastle between 1958 and 1962,
making 143 league appearances with 46 goals. Sir Matt Busby once said that Ivor never needed a number on his back for identification because his polish and class could not be missed. He said he was up there with the greatest players of all time, yet had the modesty that became him.
Filed under 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, club, fans
Today, it’s fairly easy to see the highlights of Swans’ games. There’s the internet and, if even if you don’t mind waiting until the end of the show, Match of Day. But even just a few years ago it wasn’t that easy. Then it was a case of waiting for that show beloved of all Swansea fans Soccer Sunday. Go even further back and there are many away goals that just a handful of Swans fans saw.
One way to see the goals was at the cinema where they sometimes featured as part of the Newsreel items that preceded the main film. Here’s an ad from 1925 advertising the highlights from a match against Stoke.
You can watch a newsreel report of a Swans game from the 1950s here
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.
- Spot the female
Click on the picture to enlarge.
Were you there?! Let us know
Filed under 1950s, fans, vetch
Click to enlarge
Extract from Percy Young, Football Year (1958), describing the writer’s first trip to a Swansea match. He had never seen Ivor play before, although he maintained he was not simply there to see the Swans star.
Within three minutes of the whistle there was a goal. It was Allchurch’s goal. More than that it was the first goal of the new year in the Football League, the start of the battle being set half-an-hour in advance of any other on the same day. With expectations previously aroused, and the circumstances of the goal as they were, it was clear that our hero was peerless. The papers were correct. Allchurch was the finest inside forward in the game. We were at one with our neighbours in the stand – excepting some who came from Newport and illogically supported West Ham. The calmer afterthoughts of half-time, however, brought to mind the close relationship between the miraculous and the merely fortuitous.
It had been this way. Allchurch receiving the ball just beyond the half-way line veered north-eastward, feinting the while. Ten yards from the corner flag the position was without hope. A posse of defenders harassed, and to contrive a neat, carefully pointed pass appeared as impossible as to outwit, single-footed, so many claret-coloured men, whose vigour at least could earn no reproach. Suddenly the right foot was swung. The ball lifted and, wind-swept, went directly and certainly into the distant net.
Was it the single, unmistakable sign of genius, or was it that a speculative ball meant for a hesitant colleague at centre-forward, or for the admirably adventurous Mervyn Charles, marauding to purpose from wing-half, had missed its intention? The answer lies elsewhere and will never, perhaps, be known.
You can read Ivor’s obituary from The Independent here.
Filed under 1950s, players