Classic Seasons: 1978-79
In a regular website feature, we look back through the history books at a memorable Swans campaign.
Following the excitement of the previous season’s promotion from the Fourth Division, it was a busy summer for a resurgent Swansea City and supporters were looking ahead to the new campaign with considerable optimism.
Player-manager John Toshack paid a combined total of £54,000 for Leicester City forward Alan Waddle and Crewe Alexandra goalkeeper Geoff Crudgington, while he also persuaded Liverpool stalwart Tommy Smith to join the Swans revolution.
The Swans’ first competitive game of the season saw them drawn to play Newport County away in the first round of the League Cup.
Despite a disappointing 2-1 defeat in the first leg, they made amends in the return fixture with Robbie James scoring a hat-trick and Alan Curtis adding a brace in what ultimately was a commanding victory.
The second-round draw threw up a mouthwatering home tie against star-studded Spurs, who boasted the World Cup-winning Argentinian duo of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa in their ranks.
That prospect could have provided a very unwelcome distraction, but the Swans remained focused on the league and made an unbeaten start to the campaign, justifying the bookmakers’ pre-season predictions of them being among the favourites for promotion.
The dream tie finally rolled around on a warm summer evening at a packed Vetch Field, where the Swans took the game to their illustrious opponents.
Goals from James and Jeremy Charles gave them a 2-0 lead after 38 minutes, although Glenn Hoddle’s penalty narrowed the deficit before half-time and Gerry Armstrong levelled with 20 minutes remaining to ensure a replay at White Hart Lane.
What happened in the replay became the stuff of legend, as goals from Toshack, Charles and Curtis secured a memorable 3-1 victory for the Third Division side.
The cup dream was eventually ended by Queens Park Rangers in the next round but, with the Swans sitting third in the league table, the possibility of promotion was there for all to see.
It may have been a disappointing festive period, with the Swans recording just one win, but the signing of Ian Callaghan in midfield helped them bounce back and stay very much in the mix.
The side responded brilliantly to defeat at Lincoln City towards the end of March and ended the season by embarking on a 12-match unbeaten run.
They picked up some vital victories during that sequence, including a hard-earned 1-0 win over fellow promotion-chasers Swindon Town thanks to James’ strike, while a Waddle hat-trick was the difference in a narrow 3-2 success over Southend United at home.
It all came down to the final game of the season against Chesterfield at a packed Vetch, where maximum points would mean promotion from the third tier.
The Jack Army were stunned when the visitors took a surprise lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, but Waddle replied within just three minutes to send the sides in level at half-time.
Chesterfield were camped inside their own half after the break as the Swans pushed for the decisive second goal.
Toshack substituted himself on to the field as the final throw of the dice with 20 minutes remaining, and it paid off as he met Danny Bartley’s cross to head home and send the Vetch into ecstasy, while also sealing the Swans’ return to the Second Division after 14 years away.
MARCH 16 The Amoco Cadiz – the supertanker – splits in three off the coast of Brittany, resulting in the largest oil spill to date.
JULY 8 Following a straight-sets victory over Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg becomes the first man in the modern era to win a hat-trick of men’s singles titles at Wimbledon.
DECEMBER 10 The annual Nobel Peace Prize is awarded jointly to President Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Begin of Israel, for their efforts in bringing peace to the Middle East.
FEBRUARY 1 After the Shah of Iran flees to residency in Paris, the Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran following 14 years in exile to a frenzy of excitement from his supporters.
MAY 30 Just three months after becoming the first British footballer to be transferred for £1 million, Trevor Francis scores the only goal of the game as Nottingham Forest defeat Malmo to win the European Cup.
AUGUST 27 Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, is killed in County Sligo when a bomb is detonated on his 30-foot boat, Shadow V. The IRA claim responsibility for his death, having planted the bomb in the vessel the previous night.