FAN FOCUS: Rob Williams
We continue our weekly fans feature as we put our loyal supporters under the spotlight!
Fan Focus gives every member of the Jack Army a chance to share their favourite tales, games and goals from supporting the Swans over the years.
If you want to be involved in the feature, email email@example.com
Name: Rob Williams
From: Swansea, but currently living in Singapore
How long have you been supporting the Swans?
In excess of 50 years now. I played local football when I was younger and getting to the Vetch regularly was not possible. I saw quite a few midweek games but nothing can beat the buzz of walking into a bar somewhere in Asia and unexpectedly running into a replay of a Swans Premier League game that I have missed on Singapore Sky TV.
What was your first Swans game?
My first memory goes back to when I was about four-years-old, watching from the North Bank, perched on my dad's shoulders. I can't remember the opposition (the score might have been 2-2), but I recall the groans of the Swans supporters who were very unhappy with the consistency achieved by many Swans players in shooting miles over the crossbar.
I was in the crowd of nearly 32,000 when the Swans lost to Arsenal 1-0 at the Vetch in 1968. Ian Ure broke our hearts and Ivor Allchurch had a goal disallowed for being marginally offside.
Why did you start supporting the Swans?
This is simple really. In my early years I lived in Plasmarl, and my dad was from the Landore/Cwmbwrla area. He played football with a lot of players that went on to play for the Swans. I had a stint myself for Swansea's youth team when Roy Bentley and Harry Griffiths were at the helm, but just one appearance in a Combination fixture as a goalkeeper, which we lost 5-1 against QPR, was a compelling reason to keep my football aspirations simple. These aspects were the seeds for nurturing lifelong support.
What is your most memorable Swans moment?
The final game of the season in May 1981, when about 10,000 Jacks travelled to Preston. We were in third place, equal on points with Blackburn but with a much better goal difference than them.
It was a very fine and warm day, and most of the supporters arrived early to swamp the pubs and cafes around the ground. I was right behind Leighton James when he scored the Swans' first goal. I can still recall the looping trajectory of his shot from just inside the box. We scored again, Preston then scored and we got news that Blackburn were winning at Bristol Rovers. Very nervous times, but then Charlo got our third and that was three promotions in four seasons. Suffice to say our collective joy was unmitigated.
Best game you've seen at the Vetch/Liberty?
Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-final. The match was shown live here in Singapore, and I will never forget Darren Pratley's goal. De Vries punched clear, a Forest miskick and just three touches from Pratley and the ball was in the net. What drama!
Best goal you've seen at the Vetch/Liberty?
Jonjo Shelvey's goal against Aston Villa last year has got to be up there with the best, but going back a couple of decades, Alan Curtis' goal against Leeds on the opening day of the 1981/82 First Division campaign is worth a watch on Youtube.
Your greatest sacrifice to watch the Swans?
Nothing too much in this respect. Singtel and Mio TV show all of the Premier League games. In winter time, Singapore is eight hours ahead of the UK, so getting up for some of the late kick-offs can be a bit challenging at 3am here.
Your typical pre-match ritual?
I don a Swans t-shirt and have a few beers. There are some Premier League "pubs" in Singapore. Liverpool probably garners the most support by Singaporeans, followed by Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The banter is always very good. The locals are very passionate about the Premier League, while the other European leagues don't get much of a look in.
Who is your favourite Swans player of all time, and why?
For me, this is Ashley Williams. He has been rock solid for us at the back since he signed in 2008. With every promotion, Ash has stepped up a grade. His consistency has been unbelievable.
Favourite current player?
Gylfi Sigurdsson. He makes us tick in midfield. His awareness is fantastic and he provides another bonus with his dead ball accuracy. Gylfi has so much to offer in terms of all-round quality.
If you could sign one player for the club, who would it be?
Your most disappointing moment watching the club?
Not actually a game or a result. This was the Tony Petty era, which could have seen us finished as a football club. All the news he created was bad, but we were saved eventually by a group of people who cared.