Centenary feature: 1999-2007
1st May 2013
Hopes were high after last season's near miss, and there was a determination by everyone at the club to try and gain promotion. The opening fixture away at York City was narrowly lost, and the next few matches saw the Swans struggle to score goals on a regular basis. With this in mind, Hollins delved into the transfer market to recruit Jamaican international Walter Boyd. The striker had a dream start to his Swansea career, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over league leaders Rotherham at the Vetch Field. Despite the lack of goals, the defence was watertight and the club went eight games without conceding a goal to establish themselves in the top three of the league at the turn of the year. Consistency was key to any promotion attempt, and the Swans suffered just two defeats in 23 league games between early November and late March to leave them sitting top of the Third Division. They remained there until the final home game of the season when Exeter City arrived at the Vetch. A comfortable 3-0 win confirmed promotion as the club travelled to Rotherham for the final game of the season. The home side were second in the division, just one point behind the Swans. It was a case of whoever won the game would be crowned champions, and the visitors were roared on by a passionate and vociferous away support on a sunny day in Yorkshire. After a goalless first half and with time running out, the Swans were awarded a penalty that Matthew Bound converted to cue a mass pitch invasion from the visiting fans. The referee took both teams off the pitch and when they returned, Rotherham equalised from a penalty of their own to make it 1-1. That is how it finished and the Swans were crowned champions of Division Three. However, before the game Swans supporter Terry Cole was crushed to death by a police horse outside Millmoor - a sad and tragic end to what was a momentous season for the club.
The champions would open the new season with a home fixture against play-off finalists Wigan Athletic. However, the surprise to all supporters was the lack of new faces coming into the club during the close season. There were rumours at board level that all was not well internally at the club, and this manifested itself with the resignation in early September of Chairman Steve Hammer. The council then announced that the new Morfa Stadium had been given the green light and work would commence soon on the relocation of Swansea City Football Club. The opening fixtures saw the side play well but still struggle to score goals, and this saw the management bring in Venezuelan international Giovanni Savarese along with French midfielder David Romo - both on loan. The pair made their debuts against high-flying Stoke, with Savarese scoring twice on his debut to give the Swans a vital win. However, it was the club's only success in 12 games and they slipped down the table with events behind the scenes not helping matters on the pitch. The club's owners, now known as Ninth Floor PLC, announced to the media that the club was up for sale at a price of £3m. The council, sensing problems at the club, announced that the proposed start to the Morfa project was being delayed, citing concerns over funding for the development. With the club at the wrong end of the table, two more overseas players were introduced in the shape of Matthias Verschave and Nicholas Fabiano. Despite the new arrivals, the Swans' struggles continued and by the end of the season relegation was confirmed and they found themselves back in the bottom tier. In a disappointing campaign, there was an early exit from the FA Cup away at Bournemouth, while the Swans did reach the semi-finals of the LDV Vans Trophy before losing to Brentford. The end of a dismal season did see the club reach the final of the Welsh Premier Cup, where a paltry crowd of 2,600 spectators saw them loose 2-0 to Wrexham.
With the severe financial problems slowly coming out into the public domain, the supporters decided to take the first steps towards the organisation of a Supporters Trust. The first meeting was held at the Brangwyn Hall in early July, with the culmination of various other meetings leading to the formation of the Swansea City Supporters Trust on August 27, 2001. Pre-season saw the return of former fans favourite John Williams, while Mamady Sidibe and Nicholas Mazzina also arrived at the Vetch. After only six games of the new season, manager John Hollins and coach Alan Curtis were dismissed, being replaced by Colin Addison and Peter Nicholas. The pair were given the task of trying to improve the club's fortunes amidst a backdrop of financial uncertainty. In October 2001, Australian-based businessman Tony Petty acquired the club from Mike Lewis - in turn taking on a debt of around £800,000 owed to Ninth Floor PLC. Once again, promises were made with regard to finance, but within days Petty showed a total lack of commitment with an attempt to sack all 15 contracted players. Despite all this, Addison and Nicholas managed to keep the Swans above the relegation zone, while a 4-0 FA Cup victory over Queens Park Rangers was particularly impressive. During this period, two men really came to the fore for Swansea City. Nick Cusack, in his PFA role, and board member Mel Nurse attempted to wrestle the club from Petty. Months of demonstration followed with protest matches being led by the Trust, and in late January Petty handed over the club to a consortium led by Mel Nurse. The upshot of a traumatic season saw the dismissal of Addison and Nicholas in a cost-cutting exercise, with Cusack and Roger Freestone taking over team affairs on a temporary basis. The Swans went on to finish 20th in the Division Three table, as well as losing the Welsh Premier Cup at the hands of Cardiff City.
In March 2002, the financial mess at the club saw Swansea City placed into a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), which meant that all creditors would receive five pence in the pound if the majority accepted it. Thankfully, from the club's point of view this was passed by its main creditors and a new chapter in the life of Swansea City began with Nick Cusack as manager, and Alan Curtis as his assistant. With no money available to him Cusack scoured the free transfer market, brining in eight new faces, with local boy James Thomas the most high profile of them - a centre forward who began his career with Blackburn Rovers. The opening game of the season saw the Swans gain a creditable draw at home to much-fancied Rushden and Diamonds, and when the side ran First Division Wolverhampton Wanderers close in a League Cup tie at the Vetch Field, all looked promising. However, by the end of September the club was bottom of the Football League following defeats against Boston and Wrexham. This left the board with a decision to make and Cusack was dismissed as manager, leaving Brian Flynn and Kevin Reeves to take over. Flynn immediately entered the loan market in the hope of turning round the club's fortunes, bringing in the likes of Alan Tate, Leon Britton and Roberto Martinez - players and men that would go on and earn themselves a place in Swansea City folklore. Despite this, early results were not promising and the Swans still found themselves towards the bottom at the end of January and the fight was on to keep the club in the Football League. Dropped points at home to Scunthorpe, coupled with a defeat at fellow strugglers Exeter, left survival in doubt. However, three crucial points away to Rochdale in the penultimate game of the season gave the club a chance - but they had to beat Hull on the final day. On a rain-sodden pitch, and with a vociferous support behind them, James Thomas netted a hat trick - including two penalties - to secure a 4-2 win and ensure Football League survival.
The past three seasons had seen the club faced with the possibility of dropping out of the Football League, dubious owners intent on making as much money for themselves out of the club and numerous transfer embargos. However, with a new board in charge and with the support of the Supporters Trust, it was hoped that these would be a thing of the past. Brian Flynn, meanwhile, was busy during pre-season, signing winger Brad Maylett on a full time contract and also persuading Lee Trundle to move from Wrexham to join the Swansea revolution. The opening game of the season saw the Swans beat Bury 4-2 with Maylett scoring a hat trick, while Lee Trundle would mirror this feat with his own hat trick away in the next game at Cheltenham Town. The side continued its impressive form up to Christmas, barely being out of the top six with Trundle's array of tricks and goals gaining the club, and himself, a regular slot on Sky Sports' Soccer AM. The exciting way in which the club was performing was refreshing, and this showed in attendances at the Vetch Field, which showed a healthy increase on previous seasons. The Carling Cup saw the Swans bow out in the first round to Bristol City, while the club reached the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century after wins over Rushden, Stevenage, Macclesfield and Preston. However, First Division side Tranmere eventually knocked Flynn's men out after a 2-1 defeat at Prenton Park. Despite their cup run, league results couldn't be maintained after the New Year and the club went on to slip out of the play-off places, leaving Flynn and his assistant Kevin Reeves to depart the club. Finally, after years of talk, the Morfa project began in readiness for the 2005-06 season and the man entrusted to take the club forward was former Wales international Kenny Jackett.
The countdown to the final season at the Vetch Field had begun, and in preparation for the move to the new stadium the Supporters Trust had commissioned a bronze statue of Ivor Allchurch. The pressure was now on for everyone connected with Swansea City to give the old stadium a grand send off. Although the opening fixture at home to Northampton ended in defeat, the Swans quickly found some momentum to sit in the top six of League Two. Trundle continued to dazzle both fans and opponents alike with his skill, supported well by wide duo of Adrian Forbes and Andy Robinson. Roberto Martinez was a wonderful ball player in midfield, while Will Gueret, Garry Monk, Sam Ricketts and Izzy Iriekpen made up a solid quartet at the other end. The Swans exited the League Cup at the hands of QPR, before reaching the third round of the FA Cup before losing to Reading at the Vetch. However, the Swans were never out of the top six all season and entered the final run-in tantalising close to promotion. The last league game at the Vetch had been sold out for months and on a gloriously hot day, Adrian Forbes scored the only goal to give the Swans a 1-0 win over Shrewsbury. The stage was now set for the final game of the season away at Bury. Over 5,000 Jacks made the long trip north as Forbes stole the headlines once more as he scored inside the opening minute at Gigg Lane. That strike proved enough to win the match - and promotion - as the Swans prepared for life at a new stadium back in League One. To round off a memorable campaign, the side beat Wrexham 2-1 to win the FAW Premier Cup.
The White Rock Stadium as it was being called at the time was ready for action, and Fulham became the first side to visit the ground in a testimonial match for the long-serving Alan Curtis. After this inaugural game and a further friendly against Premier League opponents Blackburn Rovers, everything was set for the competitive season to begin. On a sunny August afternoon, Tranmere Rovers kicked off the new season in front over 16,000 fans as new signing Adebayo Akinfenwa scored the only goal of the game to give the Swans a perfect start. They went unbeaten in the first eight games, including a 7-1 demolition of Bristol City, and by mid-October the new ground had been renamed as the Liberty Stadium. By the turn of the year the Swans were well placed to mount a serious push for a second successive promotion, led by the prolific strike duo of Lee Trundle and new arrival Leon Knight. The latter, who arrived from Chelsea, scored a hat-trick inside 15 minutes on his debut against MK Dons. However, inconsistency crept in towards the end of the campaign as wins turned into draws and the dream of automatic promotion simmered. Despite this, the club retained the FAW Premier Cup with a win over Wrexham, while they lifted the Football League Trophy following a 2-1 victory over Carlisle at the Millennium Stadium. The Swans eventually finished in the play-off places in League One and following a semi-final win over Brentford, they would meet Barnsley in Cardiff for a place in the Championship. Despite dominating possession and chances, the game finished 2-2 after extra time and the Swans eventually lost 4-3 on penalties - a bitter way to end any season.
Shortly after the disappointment of the play-off final, Kenny Jackett gave free transfers to influential players Adrian Forbes and Roberto Martinez. Alongside these, Welsh International defender Sam Ricketts choose to leave the Liberty Stadium for Hull City, while midfielder Darren Pratley arrived from Fulham. The disappointment of the previous year showed up early on as Cheltenham inflicted an opening day defeat on the Swans. Matters weren't help by long-term injuries, as the likes of Owain Tudur-Jones, Darren Way and Garry Monk missed the majority of the campaign. The one plus for the club was the goalscoring exploits of Leon Knight, though the striker would eventually fall foul of the manager and be placed on the transfer list for what was deemed as a disciplinary matter. It was left to the FA Cup to lift the spirits, with an eagerly anticipated first round tie away at Newport County. The Swans surged into a 3-0 lead by half time, but it was matters off the pitch that caused the headlines. County boss Peter Beadle was sent to the stands for foul and abusive language, while a coin was thrown from the crowd and struck a linesman. A 3-1 win eventually emerged which booked a second round tie against Darlington, with another 3-1 win securing the club's place in the third round. The draw pitted the Swans against Premier League side Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, and the 4,000 fans that made the trip were not disappointed. Two goals from Tom Butler and a penalty from Leon Britton secured a remarkable 3-0 win. Another away tie was handed to the Swans, at Championship side Ipswich, and a late penalty for the home side meant the Swans bowed out of the competition. In terms of the league, results continued to be marred by inconsistency and Jackett eventually resigned as manager, leaving Kevin Nugent to take over in a caretaker capacity. However, with days a new man was appointed as former fans favourite Roberto Martinez took over the reigns and immediately got the side playing with freedom and panache. Despite the club missing out on the play-offs, the future was bright.