Tag Archives: Swansea Town

When the whole Swans squad refused to sign new contracts

Open days 16 Sept004

1920s Swansea Town Cigarette Cards

Before the Second World War, professional footballers’ contracts were limited to one year and there was a maximum wage in force. This prevented a wage war between clubs and ensured they were not lumbered with long-term costs for players they no longer wanted. It also meant every summer they was a set of new negotiations with players.

In 1927, the whole of Swansea Town first-team refused to sign new contracts after the directors tried to lower their wages by a pound a week and make up for it by a bonus scheme based on the number of games played.

The players stated they were objecting to the financial loss they would suffer if they were injured. They claimed they didn’t mind if they lost money if were dropped because of loss of form, although this was probably a sensible public statement to ensure they did not lose popular sympathy.

In an act of solidarity, those first-team players who the change did not affect because they were already on lower wages, also refused to re-sign. The squad seems to have chosen its moment carefully making the decision the week before the club was due to leave for a tour of Portugal and Spain.

Despite the strong position the players’ collective action put them in, they failed to secure what they wanted.  The next day, the press  reported that many of players had re-signed, although it was unclear on what terms. By the following day, only two players had not agreed terms.

The club had held out and won. Once some of the players had broken ranks and signed the others were vulnerable.  In the days of strict contract constraints, the only thing players had on their side was collective unity and that was not easy to achieve in the lower divisions where everyone was replaceable.

Sources: South Wales Echo, 5-7 May 1927.

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“Every time you go to a match you do yourself as much good as if you took a 3s. 6d. bottle of medicine”

In 1935, Swansea Town found itself with serious financial problems and there were genuine fears that the club would go bankrupt.  With the help of the press, the club began a campaign based on an appeal to community spirit and the conscience of supporters.

Its launch was presided over by the mayor with ‘moral support’ from representatives of Swansea RFC and the best wishes of a local MP.  A doctor was even there to encourage attendances through the benefits of being out in the air: ‘Speaking scientifically, every time you go to a match you do yourself as much good as if you took a 3s. 6d. bottle of medicine’!

An editorial in the South Wales Evening Post (15 June 1935), under the heading of the ‘Swans must be saved’, asked supporters if they were ‘going to leave in the lurch the people who have provided them with the opportunity of seeing most of the best sides in the game?’

A shilling fund, a boxing match, a dance at the Vetch and smaller events all around the town were organized by locals to raise funds for the club.  Here was a community fighting to help its soccer team.

Thanks to the fund raising the club survived but it was not to be the last financial crisis the Swans faced.

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Swansea Town FA Cup newsreels 1920s and 1930s

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.

Swansea Town v Arsenal, FA Cup sixth round, 1926

Derby County v Swansea Town, FA round 4, 1935

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Swansea Town 1920s and 1930s from Getty Images archive

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Sport, Football, pic: circa 1927, Colour illustration presented by ‘Boys’ Magazine’ shows a badge style card ‘Well Played Swansea Town’ featuring Swansea player J,Sykes (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

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Swansa Town v Arsenal, FA Cup, 6th round, 1926

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Swansa Town v Arsenal, FA Cup, 6th round, 1926


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W Milne 1926

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1933 cigarette card

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1934 Cigarette card, Harry Hanford

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Sid Lawrence, Swansea Town right back, who won 8 Wales international caps from 1932-1938

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