They were first introduced in the Premier League some six years earlier but this was the year when the Football League decided to introduce them. There weren’t too many shocks with the majority of the first choice players taking the 1-11 numbers with Jason Price and Stuart Roberts being unlucky to miss out on these numbers and having to settle for 17 and 18 respectively. There were no new signings during the off season but by October we did sign a player who’d played in the World Cup…
Walter Boyd Boyd Boyd
Sounds very exciting doesn’t it saying you’ve signed a player who’s played in the World Cup? Especially when your signings in recent years have been from the League of Wales. Walter Boyd elected to take the vacant 35 shirt in reference to Cyril Pearce who hit that many goals in a single season – a club record dating back to the 1930’s. He hit the ground running straight away with a brace on his debut at home to Rotherham and some of us believed he might actually get close to that number. Sadly we were wrong and he only scored another five all season. He also set a world record during that campaign by becoming the quickest player to ever get a red card in a game. He came on as a sub against Darlington in November, elbowed a player before the referee had blown for a free kick to be taken and the referee sent him off before play had restarted meaning he’d been on the pitch for 0 seconds. Only we could have a player set that kind of record.
Nine In A Row
That’s right, this Swansea team broke a club record that still stands to this day by winning nine straight league games. John Hollins side may not have been easy on the eye (Okay we were shocking to watch) but we were difficult to break down and somehow managed to get a goal more often than not. We were outside the Play-Offs when the run started but by the end of it we were firmly in the top three. A lot of the games in this spell were pretty crap even though we won but there was one that stood out…
If any of you have been to Peterborough then you’ll know what I mean when I tell you it’s a proper football ground. The best thing about it was the fact that the away end was a huge covered terrace behind the goal. Oh how I long for an away end like that now. Right, now I’ve finished reminiscing back to the main point. We were 2-0 down in our first game of the new Millennium before Martin Thomas, Julian Alsop and Nick Cusack scored in the second half to give us the win. Quite a comeback eh!
It wasn’t only the record for consecutive wins we broke that term. We also added the most clean sheets in a season to the list too. Roger Freestone as per usual had a sensational season and was rewarded by playing for Wales against Brazil at the season’s end. A very proud moment for us all to enjoy. Jason Smith and Matthew Bound were pretty good at centre half too. They needed to be though; we only scored 51 times in the league that season with Boyd, Cusack and Steve Watkin all bagging seven each. Yes I know, abysmal for a top scorer.
Honestly I can’t emphasize how many poor performances there were that year, a staggering amount for a team challenging at the league’s summit. In February we hosted bottom club Chester and were awful on that Friday night and looked set to lose after trailing for the majority of the game. But what is it they say about things going for you at the top? Our opposition self destructed conceding an own goal and then a Watkin winner in the 90th minute to break their hearts. We couldn’t believe it, if things were going for us then surely it was going to be our year?
We needed to win our final home game to secure promotion back to the second division for the first time since 1996. In truth this was arguably the best we played all season and we were 3-0 up at the break and the second half was played out uneventfully and as the final whistle blew the Jack Army piled onto the pitch to celebrate having achieved our main objective. The drama wasn’t finished there though, 1st place was up for grabs…
We were 1st, Rotherham were 2nd and unbelievably we were away to the Yorkshire club on the final day. 2,000 travelled up the M1 that day myself included with there being a real feel good factor with both clubs having already secured promotion. The game was an end to end affair but there were no goals to show for it until we won a penalty in the 88th minute. Bound stuck it away to ensure we would win a league title for the first time since 1949. The Millers equalised themselves after a delay due to a pitch invasion but 1-1 was enough for us to celebrate. However those joyous scenes became pretty insignificant when we found out Swans fan Terry Coles had been killed in crowd trouble before the game. RIP. No one should ever go to a game and not return home.
Keith Walker was a bit of a cult figure in my early days watching us. This was to be his last year at the club though as he retired after barely playing for two years. He was rightly rewarded with a testimonial though after over a decade of service and John Gregory brought his Aston Villa side down shortly before they played the cup final at Wembley. Benito Carbone stole the show as the Villans won 0-3 but the night belonged to Skywalker. Top man!