There was an unfamiliar feel to start to this campaign with the Swans having moved to the then named “New Stadium, Swansea” What a ridiculously bad name that was, it took a few months as well before Liberty properties came in and saved us from ever calling it that again. Me and my mates just called it the stadium as we do to this day. We’re not exactly going to get confused are we? There’s nothing else resembling a stadium in this great City of ours.
Well we started like a house on fire in our new surroundings and no one who was there will forget 10th September 2005. Bristol City visited us that day and were well and truly spanked with the 7-1 scoreline our biggest win since the days of the Cup Winners Cup when Sliema Wanderers were battered 12-0. Their boss Brian Tinnion just sat in the dugout at the end no doubt in shock that a newly promoted side had given his team who were supposed to be promotion favourites a hiding and he quit his job the next day. Funniest bit is my Dad’s mate who had to leave at half time to go on holiday when the score was only 1-0. He must have been gutted!
Seven in Four
Kevin McLeod had an interesting Swans career. He started poorly, had a blistering four games which he then lived off for months before being transfer listed for late night drinking and was eventually given to Colchester on a free. But there was a time when he looked like a world beater and in that game with Bristol City he scored the first hat-trick at the Liberty to make it seven goals in four games Just a shame he then thought he was God and shot from everywhere without scoring another goal for us. There was one player though who could shoot from anywhere and score that year…
That’s what it must have been like for the opposition in the first half of that season. By mid-November he had already scored seventeen times. This was Trundle at his peak, in the top of the table clash at Southend he had an absolute stormer, his best game for the club if you ask me and his outstanding display ensured we won 2-1 and a week later he scored one of the best goals the stadium has ever seen when he took the ball on his chest, one bounce on the ground and then hit a shot that looped over Yeovil keeper Chris Weale. Only Trundle could’ve scored that goal, there was no better sight than him at the top of his game.
Spend, Spend, Spend
With us enjoying such a good start to the season and the upturn in our financial situation since relocating, Kenny Jackett had funds to strengthen in the January transfer window. Unfortunately his money wasn’t spent very wisely with Rory Fallon at £300,000 having a detrimental affect on our fortunes and Darren Way who cost half that barely featuring due to injury. The one bright spot was Leon Knight who became the first player since Bob Latchford to score a hat-trick on his debut in the 3-1 win over Milton Keynes.
Our season was pretty much defined by this hold the clubs from Yorkshire seemed to have over us. We had Huddersfield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Bradford and Rotherham all to face this term and our record against them was awful with only one win and in the away games we had four players sent off, conceded two penalties and surrendered the lead to three of the sides which continued our run of no away win in Yorkshire since February 2002. Our only win was at home to Barnsley who would later gain the ultimate revenge over us.
Okay maybe collapse is a strong word but after twenty games we were averaging two points a game and were top of the league. But from then on we only averaged a point a game as our challenge for automatic promotion to the Championship ebbed away. There weren’t many notable results in that time but I must admit winning at Nottingham Forest in front of 2,000 mad Jacks was pretty special. We went to Chesterfield on the last day needing a win to get in the Play-Offs and Knight got us off to the perfect start early on. The celebrations proved too much for some and John the Mong ended up on the pitch and got taken away by the police. Chants of “Free John the Mong” were heard in the away end and he was eventually allowed back in and witnessed a 0-4 win which set us up with a semi final against Brentford.
We were outplayed in the home leg of the semi final but things changed when Brentford keeper Stuart Nelson saw red for fouling Knight outside the box. Sam Ricketts scored a late equaliser to lift spirits ahead of the return at Griffin Park three days later. The traffic was mental there that day and I nearly missed kick off but luckily it was delayed. We produced a much better display once the game eventually got going and two early Knight goals saw us through to the final in Cardiff
It will always sicken me how we failed to win this game. I’ve never seen such a one sided Play-Off final before or since. Alan Tate missed a golden chance at the end of normal time and when Trundle went on a mazy run in extra time and found himself in the box, this was the moment surely? But no he dragged it wide and in the shoot-out that followed Bayo and Tate missed to give Barnsley the final place in the Championship. That was a hard write, even now. Bloody Yorkshire!
We did at least defend the FAW Cup by winning 1-2 at Wrexham and we then won the Football League Trophy for the second time with Trundle scoring yet another incredible goal which he took on the volley from a Leon Britton cross before Bayo got the late winner. Ultimately though I didn’t care at the season’s end. All year I was hoping we’d win back to back promotion and this 18 year old took the disappointment pretty badly.