Classic Seasons: 1974-75
In a regular website feature, we look back through the history books at a memorable Swans campaign.
Here, we go back to 1974-75, a season of turbulence which left the Swans pledging to put things right.
After gaining promotion from the Fourth Division in 1970, Swansea City suffered a decline that culminated in them returning to the bottom tier and manager Roy Bentley losing his job.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg had taken over at Vetch Field with the club deep in financial debt, while experienced players like Tony Millington, Barry Hole, Vic Gomersall and Brian Evans had either moved on or retired.
Gregg was embarking on his second full season in charge, but supporters were far from happy with the physical style of football he had introduced – replacing the Swans’ trademark free-flowing approach.
However, if the Swans had problems on the field, it was nothing compared to those off it.
Along with his board of directors, chairman Malcolm Struel had been holding talks with the local council about developing the aging North Bank.
But just when it seemed like the deal would go through, the club was dealt a blow when the council turned down their application.
Having sold just 612 season tickets, there was a backdrop of pessimism surrounding the start of the 1974-75 season.
The Swans managed just three wins from their first 11 league games of the campaign and were in the relegation zone, whilst they exited the League Cup at the opening hurdle following defeat by Exeter City.
Discipline was another worry for the Swans who, by early October, had already been shown three red cards.
But amid all the gloom, two rising stars were showing their potential – Robbie James and Alan Curtis.
By mid-November, the club’s financial problems were so severe that the decision was made to withdraw the club from the Combination League in a bid to save money.
The disappointment continued on the pitch when the Swans crashed out of the FA Cup against a non-league side for the second consecutive season, as they came unstuck against Kettering Town.
A piece of Swans history was made in the home draw against Southport when Nigel Dalling came on as a late substitute and, in doing so, became the youngster player to represent the club in a competitive match at 15 years and 289 days old.
The new year provided no cheer, however, as the Swans were beaten 1-0 at home by Workington Town and, soon after, the departure of club captain Herbie Williams left a huge void in the team.
This was followed by the resignation of Gregg who, frustrated at the transfer restrictions, left for Crewe Alexandra, with Harry Griffiths taking over on a caretaker basis.
Amid the ongoing pressures that banks were placing on the club to reorganise their financial affairs, the chairman and directors negotiated with local officials to sell Vetch Field to the local council.
After months of cautious discussions, the council obtained the ground for £50,000 as well as a grant of £150,000 that could only be used on the club’s overdraft.
The land on which the ground stood was worth at least five times more than the price negotiated but, at this sorry time, the club were in no position to bargain.
Back on the field, the Swans did pick up some vital points in the final dozen games of this turbulent season, but the lack of experience within the team was evident and a 22nd-place finish resulted in the club submitting their application for re-election to the Football League.
The chairman began a personal canvassing campaign by sending a letter to each of the 91 clubs in the Football League, outlining the case for the Swans to remain a league club.
Fortunately, things worked out and the Swans were re-elected with the largest number of votes at the meeting and, though relief was evident, so was the determination among all at Swansea City that the club would never be in this position again.
JULY 7 Host nation West Germany win the World Cup, beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final thanks to goals from Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller.
AUGUST 9 Richard Nixon becomes resigns as US President following the White House scandal.
NOVEMBER 21 A total of 21 people are killed and 182 injured in the Birmingham pub bombings. The IRA would later claim responsibility.
FEBRUARY 28 A London Underground train crashes into the dead-end tunnel at Moorgate station. A total of 43 people, including the driver, are killed.
APRIL 30 The Vietnam War ends following the capture of Saigon by North Vietnamese troops.
NOVEMBER 20 Francisco Franco, the former Prime Minister of Spain, dies at the age of 82.