Centenary feature: 1959-1967
1st May 2013
In May, preliminary work began on the new covered stand for the popular North Bank. The cost was in the region of £15,000 and was met by the loyal Swansea Town Supporters Club. The official opening took place on the morning of the first game of the season against Lincoln City, with nearly 20,000 coming through the turnstiles. The early season form up to Christmas was steady, if unspectacular, with the Swans averaging a point a game up to that time. Mel Nurse, who had been in outstanding form for the club, was rewarded with a full Welsh cap against England, while young winger Barry Jones became another local youngster to make his debut against Portsmouth in a 3-1 win at Fratton Park. The FA Cup saw the side play Gillingham at the Vetch Field in the third round where goals from Williams (2), Jones and Hughes saw the side safely into the hat for the fourth round. The draw was kind to the Swans and they faced First Division Burnley at home. On a heavy pitch, the home side outplayed their Lancashire opponents only for the game to end in a 0-0 draw. There was a crowd of over 30,000 at the Vetch Field to witness the game, while the replay at Turf Moor saw another 37,000 attend the match. In another entertaining encounter, the Swans narrowly lost 2-1 to the future English champions. The end of the season saw the side in 12th position in the league, while on the final game of the season the Swans would celebrate a 6-1 victory with the youngest average team in its history against Bristol City.
Pre-season saw the club head to Ireland to play three matches and the tour marked the first time that a Swansea Town party had flown and all the games were won. After the promise of the previous season, it was something of a shock to find the team at rock bottom of the division after the first 12 games. In October the Swans played Hibernian of Scotland in a friendly at the Vetch, in celebration of the floodlights being used for the first time at the ground. The New Year saw the side defeat Port Vale and Preston North End at home in the FA Cup and although they lost in the next round at Burnley, it was the beginning of a remarkable run of games from February until the end of the season. From bottom of the league the side went on a run of 16 games without defeat, winning 12 and drawing four to end the season in 7th place - their highest league position in 33 years. The icing on the cake was winning the Welsh Cup for the fourth time by defeating Bangor City 3-1 at Ninian Park, in the process becoming the first Welsh club to enter the European Cup Winners Cup.
By remaining unbeaten in the opening three league matches of the new season, including the run from the previous year, the Swans extended their unbeaten league run to a new record of 19 games. But after surprisingly losing at home to Preston (1-2) the side went on an alarming run of form, losing heavily at Liverpool (0-5), Sunderland (2-7) and Derby County (3-6) to plummet down the division by Christmas. Not even the cups could give the club any cheer. The much anticipated European adventure saw the side drawn against East German side Motor Jena, where politics intervened and saw the side having to play both ties away from the Vetch. The Swans played their home tie in Austria, drawing 2-2, while the return leg in East Germany saw the home side beat Welsh club 5-1. The team also went out of the new League Cup in the first round to Ipswich, while they were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday in the third round of the FA Cup. The side found themselves in a relegation battle once more, and only by winning the final two games of the season were the Swans able to once again hold on to their Second Division status.
Trevor Morris was busy during the close season, with Reg Davies and Peter Donnelly moving to Carlisle and Brighton respectively. Eddie Thomas joined the Swans from Blackburn Rovers for £10,000, and experienced defender and local Swansea schoolboy Glyn Davies arrived from Derby County. The season started on a positive note, with Eddie Thomas scoring two goals on his debut against Bury and another local youngster, 18-year-old Roy Evans, making his debut against Grimsby Town. But, as the fans had feared, Mel Nurse was sold to Middlesbrough for £25,000 at the end of September. Once more there were letters to the Evening Post criticising the sale of one of its star players, while many accused Morris of not managing the side but simply acting as an accountant for the directors. In hindsight this was unfair criticism on the manager, who with gates of only 10,000 on average, had to find ways of keeping down a club deficit that even with transfer sales showed no signs of disappearing. The rest of the season saw the club stay in a steady mid-table position in the league, eventually finishing 15th. The FA Cup saw the side go out in the fourth round away at West Ham United (0-1) after beating Queens Park Rangers (2-0) in round three at the Vetch Field. The emphasis was firmly on local talent, and the club saw Roy Evans, Keith Todd and Barrie Jones represent their country in an Under-23 international against Ireland at the Vetch in February. Also, 19-year-old Derek Draper made his league debut in March against Newcastle United, scoring the only goal of the game to defeat the Magpies.
Whether stung by criticism or not, manager Morris paid a club record £16,000 to bring in Irish international Jimmy McLaughlin from Shrewsbury Town during the summer, while also paying Abercynon £750 for winger Brian Evans, who would go on to have a long and successful career with the Swans. The opening of the new season saw the side draw 1-1 at home to Grimsby and early results were mixed, though Keith Todd continued to impress as he scored a hat trick against Swindon at the Vetch. But even though the side struggled in the league, it was the FA Cup that saw the Swans raise their game. Fourth Division side Barrow were brushed aside in the third round (4-1) before being drawn away to Sheffield United. A hard fought 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane gave the Swans a replay at the Vetch and with over 24,000 in the ground, the team responded in breathtaking fashion by winning 4-0 on the night. There was some disappointment with the draw for the fifth round as the Swans found themselves on the road once more, this time at First Division side Stoke City. Even an early Stanley Mathews goal could not prevent the team from battling out a draw in the Potteries, and back at the Vetch the team once again rose above its league form to win 2-0 with goals from Todd and McLaughlin. The quarter-final draw through up yet another away tie, but a glamorous one as the Swans travelled to Liverpool. The Merseyside club would be crowned champions of England at the end of the season and in Hunt, Yeates and Thompson, they had a plethora of players with international experience. But the Swans found themselves 2-0 up at the break and despite a second-half goal from Thompson, some heroics in the Swans goal from Noel Dwyer meant that the visitors claimed a memorable win at Anfield as they reached the FA Cup semi-finals. For once the draw was kind, keeping them away from West Ham and Manchester United and pairing them with fellow Second Division side Preston North End. Villa Park was the chosen venue and 30,000 Swansea supporters made the journey to the Midlands. The Swans took a first-half lead through McLaughlin, but Preston turned the game on its head in the second half to win 2-1 and leave the Welsh side heartbroken. The Swans managed to retain their league status, finishing 19th in the table, before seeing both Harry Griffiths and Johnny King leave the club at the end of the season.
The beginning of the new season saw two departures from the Vetch Field, as Eddie Thomas moved to Derby County and Barrie Jones left for Plymouth Argyle. Within weeks of the season's start, one more departure would see goalkeeper Noel Dwyer join up with Jones at Home Park. The Swans started off poorly, winning just once in their first seven games, with critics crying out for an out and out goal scorer. This led to Morris paying Coventry City £13,000 for George Kirby. The League Cup gave the club an opportunity to introduce youngsters Georgio Chinaglia and John Roberts to the senior side, as the Swans beat Rotherham. But with inconsistent performances seeing the side rooted at the bottom of the division, Morris dipped into the transfer market once more, this time brining in McGuigan from Southampton and winger Willie Humphries from Coventry. Once more, the FA Cup gave the club some relief from the harsh realities of league football. The Swans edged past Huddersfield and Newcastle in rounds three and four, before being drawn away to Peterborough in the fifth round. There was cup fever once more in the town, and after a draw away from home, the Swans were beaten 2-0 in a replay at the Vetch to leave 30,000 fans wondering what might have been. League results continued to disappoint, however, and although the side won three of its four league games at the end of the season, it came down to the last league match at Coventry City to determine whether the Swans would stay up. This time there was to be no reprieve as a 3-0 defeat left the side facing relegation to the Third Division. At the end of the campaign, Morris paid the price as the board accepted his resignation.
Former Swans player and local boy Glyn Davies was the board's choice to take over the reins at the Vetch Field, and one of the first things he was able to do was to bring Ivor Allchurch back to the club. If any supporter thought that the club would find life easy in the Third Division, then they were in for a rude awakening. On paper the club still had players who had performed well at a higher division, but the realities of life in this rugged league clearly didn't suit the team. Defensively, there were some hammerings suffered throughout the season, such as a 5-0 defeat at Shrewsbury and a 7-0 reverse at Workington. But the writing was on the wall early on in September when the team were humiliated at home by the latter, as the visitors ran out 6-1 winners. The club would win just 15 of it's 46 games during the season, only just avoiding a second successive relegation. As well as this, attendances were dwindling. In November, for a fixture at home to Bournemouth, the crowd was just 4,217 - the lowest gate since the Second World War. The only achievement of a depressing season was the club lifting the Welsh Cup for the fifth time. This was achieved by defeating Chester over what became a three legged final to once again enter the European Cup Winners Cup.
The summer break saw Glyn Davies bring in Vic Gomersall from Manchester City and inside forward Denis Coughlin from Bournemouth, but this did little to halt the club's slide down the league table. After 20 games the Swans were bottom of the table and Davies paid the ultimate price as he lost his job. While the board pondered on a new manager, 68-year-old Joe Sykes took up the post as caretaker manager, with Walter Robbins as his right hand man. The European adventure saw the side go out in the first round to Bulgarian side Slavia Sofia 4-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Wales. The FA Cup saw this struggling side suffer the indignity of crashing out at the first round to non-league Nuneaton Borough (0-2), while Cardiff City made sure the Swans would not retain their Welsh Cup crown with a 4-0 win at the Vetch Field. The only bit of good news for the club was the honouring of Ivor Allchurch with an MBE in the New Years honour list. In February, former Swans player Billy Lucas was appointed as the club's new manager and his arrival brought some better results. But with only ten games left to play the club was still firmly at the bottom of the division. The squad certainly responded to the new man with some good performances, but it was a case of too little, too late. And by the end of the worst season in the club's history, the Swans found themselves in the Fourth Division for the first time after winning just 12 games.