The Swansea Way
This was truly the start of the tika-taka football that we now see to this day. Roberto Martinez reshaped his squad during the summer with, Dorus De Vries, Angel Rangel, Ferrie Bodde, Paul Anderson and Jason Scotland all arrived and formed the basis of the new look side. Ashley Williams would also arrive before the end of the campaign and the £400,000 paid for him (a club record at the time) was just a snip of what we sold this man for…
After four glorious years we waved goodbye to our star man Lee Trundle who later admitted in his autobiography he would have stayed if we’d matched the wages offered by Bristol City which was a bit disappointing to be honest. At the time though I was just gutted to lose a man who’d become a legend after scoring 86 during his time with us. The big worry now was how would we replace those goals? We needn’t have worried though…
While he may not have been the darling of the crowd that Trundle was Jason Scotland helped fill the void left by the Scouser and found the net 29 times that season. His biggest asset was that he could strike the ball just as cleanly with his left foot as his right, making him one of the most dangerous front players we’ve had at the club. And what did he cost? Just £25,000, take a bow Mr Martinez you magician.
This new way meant an end to the days of 4-4-2 and hello to 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 depending on how you looked at it. It took a bit of getting used to but with Martinez being such a crowd favourite he was given time to implement his new style. The turning point came with a late 2-1 home win over Swindon on October 2nd and from there we spanked Leyton Orient 0-5 and Bournemouth 1-4 on the road and we didn’t look back, losing only one our next twenty six league games which unsurprisingly gave us a massive lead at the league’s summit.
I couldn’t wait to face Dennis Wise’s team if truth be told. A trip to Elland Road was a far cry from the grounds we were used to playing at. In all honesty it was the only time all season we were outplayed as they won 2-0. At our place though it was a different story, a capacity crowd saw us run out 3-2 winners in one of the Liberty’s greatest ever games. That proved to be a turning point in the season for both clubs as we hit top form and our promotion rivals faltered.
Robbed by Attwell
Stuart Attwell is without doubt one of the worst officials around and he made my blood boil during this season. He had a shocker in our home draw with Gillingham and was then put in charge of our 3rd round FA Cup tie with Havant and Waterlooville. The team from Hampshire were one of the dirtiest I’ve ever seen and should have had three men sent off. As it was only one saw red and they scored an undeserved late equaliser and won the replay to set up a tie with Liverpool. I was fuming, raging, tamping and repeatedly punched my bed in my student halls of residents to make myself feel better. The one positive to come from it was we played Doncaster our main promotion rivals that weekend instead and battered them 0-4 on their own patch. I remember being on Soccer Sunday going mad in the crowd that night. Good times.
Success On The Road
The cornerstone of our success that year was our away form. We easily broke the club record of eleven wins in a season and by the time the campaign was over fourteen teams had hosted us and seen us steal the points. A number of these victories were at our bogey grounds as well, Yeovil, Huddersfield and Bristol Rovers spring to mind and then fittingly our biggest of all came at another ground that hadn’t been kind to us…
1,500 tickets we were given for the big promotion party at Gillingham on April 12th where a win would see us win promotion to the Championship. It started badly as the Gills scored early on but a double from Guillem Bauza just before the break was enough to see us over the line and back into the 2nd tier for the first time since 1984. The game was beamed back to the Liberty where a few thousand watched live and I’m told by Dad that I was caught on camera standing on my seat with my shirt off celebrating. Not that I cared though. The Jacks Were Going Up!
We were crowned champions a week later despite losing at home to Yeovil and were meant to be presented with the League 1 trophy in seven days time after the home game with Leyton Orient. Sadly though due to the debacle with Leeds appeal over their lost fifteen points which still hadn’t been cleared up we had to wait until the final game of the season at Brighton to get our hands on it. For what it’s worth I blame the FA and not Leeds for what happened. I didn’t blame them appealing the ban; they were probably as annoyed as us it took so long to be cleared up. Ultimately though nothing could spoil a fantastic season, we even finished 16 ahead of the Yorkshire club meaning they wouldn’t have won the title even with those points back.