This weekend will see the legendary Alan Curtis sit in the dugout of a Swansea City match for the final time before he retires from coaching and becomes honorary club president.
It will be a sad day for the club, but it gives us an opportunity to say thank you and appreciate all he has done for Swansea City – and there’s a lot to appreciate.
Depending on what generation you’re from, the name Alan Curtis will mean something different.
For those who were around during the Toshack era his name will evoke memories of those glory days. We’ve all seen that stunning strike against Leeds in our first ever top flight match, when he sidestepped defender Trevor Cherry before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to round off arguably the greatest day in our history.
For today’s generation he will probably be remembered as the man who knows where the kettle is, and the safe pair of hands we’d always call upon to steer the first team through a tough spell after a manager has left the club.
For my generation it would be his spell as assistant manager under John Hollins, and the “braveheart” speeches away to Rochdale and home to Hull when our Football League status was under threat.
All of those stories are well documented and are always given the airtime they deserve when discussing this great man.
So I wanted to focus on my own dealings with Curt down the years. I was seven years old when I first started paying attention to football and my father used to take me to Dillwyn Llewelyn Leisure Centre on a Saturday morning where Curt used to do coaching sessions every week.
I didn’t really appreciate it at the time, as a naive youngster I probably thought everyone had the opportunity to be coached by someone like Alan Curtis. It’s only now when I look back at it that I truly appreciate how fortunate I was.
At that age the wrong coach could turn you off football for life, but with him in charge I can’t believe any child would ever not want to return the following week. There was never a cross word, he never favoured anyone based on ability, he would always try to encourage and make sure everyone left with a smile on their face.
He was perfect for that job and I was really disappointed when he left the role a few years later when he became more involved with the youth team and then the first team at the Swans.
Even though he only did that job for a couple of years he still always remembered me and my father whenever our paths crossed.
I was Swans mascot in 1998 for a home game with Cardiff and by this time he’d become assistant manager to John Hollins and he made a big fuss when I met the players before the game.
Even as recently as last year, I was at a night celebrating the biography of Brian Flynn in Port Talbot and by coincidence ended up on the same table as him, he came over to shake our hands and for a quick chat beforehand.
That’s Alan – you could never meet a nicer man.
What he has given our football club down the years is very difficult to put into words. One of my pet hates is when the word legend gets bandied about for so many people. It takes the limelight away from those who are the real legends – like Alan Curtis who is arguably the greatest Swan of all.
And a man who is the greatest Swan of all has not always been treated with the respect he deserves, Kenny Jackett failed to recognise his worth by sacking him in 2005 and the club did the same by text in 2017 when Paul Clement took over which was appalling.
He always seemed to return soon enough though in those situations, and always gave the impression he would do anything for this football club.
412 appearances and 110 goals puts him in the top ten in Swans history in both lists and with over 40 years worth of service he really is a one off.
There really needs to be a lasting legacy of Curt, and I can think of no better tribute than the building of a statue at the Liberty.
When you’ve given as much as he has, and made such a magnificent impact at Swansea City over such a long period it’s the only tribute that would do him justice.
I’d like to see some serious discussions on this in the near future, whether that’s from the club or the supporters trust as now is the perfect time to start this project.
Enjoy your retirement Alan. Thanks for everything #YJB