Forward Line Dismantled
It really was an awful summer for the Jack Army this one. Club captain Dave Penney did the unthinkable and left us for Cardiff, Carl Heggs moved to Northampton, Dai Thomas joined Watford and on the day before the opening game with Brighton, Steve Torpey signed for Bristol City in a club record £400,000 deal. With our frontline now more or less non-existent Jan Molby signed Barry Town pair Dave O’Gorman and Tony Bird with the latter scoring the winner against the Seagulls the next day. Steve Watkin did arrive a few weeks later from Wrexham for £100,000.
When you scored four away from home I’d usually be ecstatic and assume we’d picked up one of the most convincing away wins you’re ever likely to see. Sadly in the first away game of the season at Hull the Swans decided to concede seven and this game remains the highest aggregate score in a Swansea City league game. Just to let you know, Bird, Jason Price, Jonathan Coates and an own goal were our scorers.
We all liked Jan Molby during his time here but sadly he was given the boot after a poor start to the season. Admittedly we weren’t doing well but when you sell four of last years starting eleven and sign League of Wales players to replace them what did the board expect? Micky Adams took his place and lasted 13 days before quitting leaving his assistant Alan Cork to take over the job.
Away fans were finally allowed to return at the South Wales derby after nearly four years of absence and over 1,000 made the trip to Ninian Park by what we now call a bubble trip with the official travel club. They were rewarded handsomely with Keith Walker scoring a sensational volley to win us the game 0-1. It looked like Cardiff would gain revenge at the Vetch after Jason Fowler’s second half strike put them ahead but Jonathan Coates’ late diving header (yes you did read that correctly) ensured a share of the spoils.
Adams walked because he wasn’t given funds to strengthen but Cork was then given money to bring players in. Over the coming months he would bring in a number of players who would notably improve the squad over the coming years. Nick Cusack, Michael Howard, Matthew Bound and Julian Alsop all arrived and he also secured Martin Thomas and Jason Smith, although John Hollins officially completed the moves. Say what you want about Cork, his long ball crap was detested by me but in the transfer market his record was quite good if you take out his one bad signing – Aiden Newhouse!
If they say a week is a long time in football then how long is four months? Too bloody long is the answer. But that’s how long the Swans went without a home win during this season, a run of nine games in total. All this after winning the first three as well. They were dark dark days, we just had to thank our lucky stars that Doncaster were cut adrift at the bottom meaning we were safe from the drop. They did however cause us further embarrassment on their way to the Conference…
We faced the already relegated side at home in our final Vetch match of the campaign and putting it mildly we were absolutely dreadful. It finished 0-0 and at the end everyone was grateful to hear the final whistle. This game probably got Cork the sack to be honest. We’d been so woeful that the board probably thought we were going nowhere fast under this guy. We ended up finishing 20th on 50 points which at that point was the worst finish in our history. The only slight positive we could take is that we were one place above Cardiff. Amazingly Hull and Brighton were the other teams to finish below us that year. Funny old game isn’t it?
Yes not even the cup competitions could lighten the mood this time around. Reading knocked us out in round one of the Coca Cola Cup, likewise Peterborough in the FA Cup 1-4 at the Vetch in a game live on Sky which Richie Appleby was sent off in. The FAW Invitation Cup made its debut during this campaign to try and allow the League of Wales sides and the exiled Welsh Football League clubs to take part in the same competition. We lost to Wrexham in the quarter finals of that as well. This was the first year I’d had a season ticket by the way. It’s amazing to think I still went down next year after this!