Classic Seasons: 1999-2000

13th November 2017
Club

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

Here, we revisit the 1999-2000 season, which ended in title glory but tragedy off the pitch.

 

John Hollins’ first season as Swans manager had ended in the agony of a second leg play-off semi-final to Scunthorpe United.

However, the 1998-99 campaign had come with plenty of positives which offered genuine hope for the future.

Hollins’ team memorably toppled Premier League West Ham United in an FA Cup replay at Vetch Field, and they also battled admirably in defeat against another top-flight side, Derby County.

The 1999-2000 season began with a frustrating loss away at York City, where the 1-0 scoreline did not tell the tale of the Swans’ dominance. The visitors’ failure to take their chances cost them the points.

However, the next four league games were won, giving the team a platform to build upon for the rest of the season.

With no wins in the following four league fixtures, and with early-season optimism fading, the manager took the brave decision to bring Jamaican International forward Walter Boyd to Wales.

Boyd’s debut came in a match at the Vetch on a crisp October evening. Rotherham United were the opponents and, in Roy of the Rovers-style, Boyd scored both goals in a 2-0 victory.

The momentum continued through to the new year, and steadily the team climbed up the table.

The strength of Hollins’ team was a miserly defence. Roger Freestone was the most consistent goalkeeper in the division, while the back four in front of him providing excellent cover.

With Steve Jones, Jason Smith, Matthew Bound and Michael Howard playing as a defensive unit that gave little encouragement to opposition attackers, the Swans managed a sequence of eight straight league clean sheets, creating a new club record in the process.

Although the defence was central to the Swans’ climb up the league, there were also notable contributions in midfield made by captain Nick Cusack and Martin Thomas.

The goals of Steve Watkin and Jason Price were also significant.

Early exits from both major cup competitions meant the team could concentrate on the league and, after flitting between first and second in the table for the final two months of the season, the Swans defeated Exeter City 3-0 at a sun-drenched Vetch to guarantee promotion in the penultimate game of the campaign.

The largest crowd at the ground in over a decade saw Hollins’ men cruise into a 3-0 half-time lead, and the second half was something of a carnival for players and supporters alike.

With promotion guaranteed, the final game of the season was away against second-placed Rotherham.

And with only a point separating the teams, it was a case of winner-takes-all in the race for the title.

The sun beat down as the players took to the pitch and the home side attacked from the first whistle.

It took all of the visitors’ defensive resilience to keep Rotherham at bay, but slowly the Swans grew into the game as an attacking force.

Thomas and Boyd were denied by home keeper Mike Pollitt.

Then, with time running out, the home side were dramatically reduced to nine men, with Garner and Wilsterman sent off in a crazy spell which saw the Swans awarded a fortuitous penalty which Bound smashed home.

With only a minute of normal time left, some home fans ran on to the playing surface and the referee took the players off the pitch.

After the police gained control of the situation and players returned to the field, referee Styles once again awarded a dubious penalty, this time to the home team, but before the kick could be taken the pitch was invaded again.

The players were off for 10 minutes before play resumed and Lee Glover scored his penalty.

Seconds later, the game came to an end, with the point enough to ensure the Swans were champions.

The team collected the trophy and medals on the pitch at the end of a tension-filled afternoon.

But the triumph was put into perspective as news emerged that Swans supporter Terry Coles had died before the game when he was crushed by a police horse outside the stadium.

The players and management learned of this tragedy after the game had finished. Out of respect, celebrations which had been planned back in Swansea were called off.

 

 

 

WORLD EVENTS

1999

APRIL 26

In London, TV Presenter Jill Dando is shot dead on the doorstep of her Fulham home.

MAY 26

Manchester United defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Barcelona to win the Champions League final, with last-gasp goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

OCTOBER 25

Golfer Payne Stewart dies when the jet he is travelling in loses cabin pressure and crashes into a field in South Dakota.

 

2000

JANUARY 31

GP Harold Shipman is jailed for life for murdering 15 of his patients, making him Britain’s most prolific convicted serial killer.

FEBRUARY 23

Sir Stanley Matthews, British football’s first knight and original superstar, passes away at the age of 85.

JULY 2

France defeat Italy 2-1 after extra time to win Euro 2000, and become the first team to hold the World Cup and European Championship at the same time.