DERBY DAYS: John Hartson

2nd November 2013

Each day this week, as part of our big Welsh derby build-up, we put a former Swan under the spotlight as they recall their memories from past meetings with Cardiff. 

Today, Swansea City's famous fan John Hartson admits he'll be the epitome of envy watching the Welsh derby on Sunday.

The former Wales striker will be part of the BBC's Match of the Day 2 punditry team locked away in their Salford studios analysing the day's fixtures for the highlights show that evening.

And while the Swansea-born hit-man had a glittering, goal-grabbing career spanning the likes of Luton, Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon, Coventry, West Brom, Norwich (loan) and Celtic, he still has some regrets.

Sitting at the club's new training ground at Landore having just interviewed Swans boss Michael Laudrup for this week's BBC shows Football Focus and Sport Wales, Hartson admitted: "The one regret I do have is not having the chance to play for the Swans.

"Swansea is my home-town club; the club I supported from a boy; the club I watched for 10 years standing on the North Bank at the old Vetch Field.

"I would have loved to pull on the Swans shirt, but the timing was never right. I certainly would have loved to have played in a Welsh derby. The players out there representing Swansea on Sunday don't know how lucky they are.

"I know exactly what a derby means to the fans. I played in over 20 Old Firm derbies for Celtic against Rangers. I've also done Arsenal v Spurs; Luton v Watford; Coventry v Aston Villa, West Ham v Spurs and even Wales v England.

"Every derby is special, but for the fans of the two clubs involved it is always the biggest. It's about bragging rights; going into work the next day with a smile on your face and enjoying a bit of banter with your colleagues whose side you have just beaten.''

Hartson, who came close to signing for the Swans under Roberto Martinez, added: "It's important the players know how much the derby means to the fans, especially as this is the first one ever in the Premier League.

"It's also important the players keep their heads; keep their cool on the pitch and remain professional throughout.''

Now whether a nervous Hartson can remain cool and calm watching the mouth-watering Welsh derby live from the Match of the Day studios on Sunday is another matter. Mark Chapman et al, you have been warned!