Classic Seasons: 1955-56

11th December 2017

In a new website feature, we look back through the history books at a memorable Swans campaign.

Here, we head back to 1955-56, a season which started with tragedy and saw the Swans push for promotion to the top flight.

 

Swansea Town were left in a state of shock during pre-season when news came through that manager Billy McCandless had died unexpectedly at home.

Further tragic news of the loss of chief scout Glyn Evans in a car accident cast more gloom over the club.

With only weeks until the start of the new season, the club’s directors had to make a decision on the new man to take charge of the team and, after some deliberation, they chose popular former Spurs and Wales defender Ronnie Burgess as McCandless’ successor.

Burgess was joined by captain Ivor Allchurch and former player Joe Sykes, who formed a three-man team selection committee.

The team endured mixed results in their opening five matches before the sixth game provided an entertaining 5-3 victory over Bury at Vetch Field.

This seemed to galvanise the Swans and they went on a four-match unbeaten run, scoring 15 goals in the process, and moving up to third place in the league table.

Local interest in the team was gathering momentum and, facing a Leeds side featuring the great John Charles, a new league-record attendance of 29,477 watched the sides share the points in a 1-1 draw at the Vetch.

The team were playing fast, exciting football and contained mainly homegrown talent with the Allchurch and Jones brothers alongside Harry Griffiths and Terry Medwin, while Mel Charles, Tom Kiley and John King made up the defence.

The goals were flowing and supporters were starting to believe that promotion to the First Division was a real possibility.

When Bristol Rovers were defeated on the road in mid-October, Swansea stood top of the Second Division for the first time in their history, and the confidence within the side was there for all to see.

This was the case when they welcomed a strong Liverpool side to the Vetch on Bonfire night.

In a game full of fireworks, goals from Len Allchurch and Medwin gave the team an impressive 2-1 win which strengthened their grip at the summit of the table.

However, with everything seemingly going well for the team, there was a huge blow just days after that victory when, during a regulation training session, centre-half Kiley sustained a serious knee injury that would eventually end his career.

His absence in the heart of defence was a devastating setback to the team and this was evident in their next away game at Leicester.

A demoralising 6-1 defeat against a mid-table side, and a first loss in 11 league games, highlighted the need for the board to bring in an experienced centre-half to help sustain the promotion push.

However, Tom Brown, who arrived from Llanelli, and reserve Jim Pressdee were unable to fill the void left by the imposing Kiley and the following nine league games up until the new year brought only two wins.

But when the Swans earned a 2-2 draw away at Leeds in February, a game in which three sets of brothers – Jones, Allchurch and Charles – featured, they climbed back up to second in the league once again.

But renewed hope was short-lived as their poor form continued during the final two months of the season, which ended with a disappointing 10th-place finish.

The dissatisfaction amongst the supporters was evident and the outcome of the campaign would have further long-term consequences for the club, as Medwin was one of several exciting talents who eventually left due to their frustration at the lack of investment in the team.

 

EVENTS OF 1955-56

1955

APRIL 18 Scientist Albert Einstein dies in Princeton, New Jersey at the age of 76.

APRIL 22 Anthony Eden is named the British Prime Minister after Winston Churchill resigns on the grounds of ill health.

SEPTEMBER 30 Actor James Dean dies when his Porsche careers off the road in Los Angeles.

 

1956

JUNE 29 Playwright Arthur Miller marries Marilyn Monroe in New York.

OCTOBER 26 The Hungarian uprising against Soviet domination began with many casualties reported on the main streets of Budapest.

OCTOBER 31 Anglo-French forces bombard the Suez in an attempt to defeat Colonel Nasser.