"The greatest prize of all"

4th May 2013

May 3, 2003. A date etched into the memories of the Jack Army and engrained in the history books of Swansea City.
It was the day the Swans avoided relegation from the Football League thanks to a final-day 4-2 win over Hull City at a packed Vetch Field.
A hat-trick from local lad James Thomas and one from Lenny Johnrose was enough to beat the dreaded drop as Exeter were relegated despite winning their last three games.
Each day this week we have brought you an interview from a wide range of people involved in that day, from the players and management to supporters singing their hearts out on the North Bank.
Here is our penultimate interview.

For Ben Charles, Swansea City has been in his blood from birth.
The nephew of Mel and John Charles, and cousin of another former Swan Jeremy Charles, Ben has been up and down the land, experiencing the highs and lows of being part of the Jack Army.
He attended his first match in 1982 - a 2-0 win over Manchester City at the Vetch on April 17 thanks to a stunning strike from Gary Samuel and another from Bob Latchford.
But his biggest day as a Swans fan, like many others, came during that game against Hull a decade ago.
Then a 30-year-old working at the South Wales Evening Post newspaper, he recalls the day from standing among the tense crowd on the North Bank.

"It's a day I will take to my grave.
"In the days building up to the game my friends were all ringing each other seeking reassurance. Can we do it? Will we do it? How will we do it?
"I was working at the Evening Post at the time, and I think the newspaper fulfilled its duty in rallying the fans for the game.
"It was important for the paper to send out a supportive message that week, and I think they did that.
"I remember matchday clearly. I went for a drink with my mates down the Bryn Y Mor pub, and usually everyone would be over-exuberant and having a laugh.
"But that day was different. Everyone was quiet and nervous - we all knew what was at stake for the club we love.
"Inside the crowd I can remember the tension. It got even worse when Hull equalised.
"It got to me, and I had to do to the toilet.
"Then I heard the words that even make me shiver now when I recollect them , someone said: 'oh no, they've scored again.'
"I felt sick.
"It was as if all the energy had been sucked out of me.
"It was at that point when I realised this could be it - this could be the moment when the club I love drops into the non-league and maybe goes out of existence.

"But James Thomas levels from the penalty spot and the crowd sensed there was enough fight in this team to save us.
"And when Lenny put us 3-2 up, I think we all felt we were going to do it. The tension certainly lifted.
"The fourth goal confirmed it, and I think we were safe pretty much as soon as that ball hit the net.
"At the final whistle the crowd went bonkers. People ran onto the pitch and the emotions were just pure elation.
"We hadn't actually won a trophy, but this was the greatest prize of all for the club.
"It felt like we had won the lottery.
"It meant so much to everyone in the city - not just the supporters.
"My girlfriend at the time, Naomi, who's now my wife, was not a football fan back then. But she was gripped with the Swans that week.
"She knew that if we went down then I would have been in a terrible state - not just for the following day, week or month but for much longer.
"That's because when a club means that much to you and it's part of your life, you live and breathe Swansea City.
"Fortunately, it all went to plan.
"The feeling after the celebrations died down was that we can't allow this great club to go through that ever again.
"We've gone from the Tony Petty farce and almost going out of business - and the Football League - to rising to the Premier League and winning the League Cup in a short space of time.
"It's pure Hollywood. And I wouldn't change a thing."

Ben Charles is a co-host on Swansea Till I Die - tune in every Friday to Swansea Sound on 1170MW.

Click on the names below to read their memories of the day.

Leon Britton

Kristian O'Leary

Kevin Johns

Brian Flynn

James Thomas