To Hull and Back

1st May

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 will be bringing 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.


On a cold, wet, miserable afternoon at the Vetch Field, Matchday MC Kevin Johns was the man responsible for warming up the Jack Army for a match in which their team really needed them to raise the decibel levels.
Swansea City knew victory over Hull City would guarantee them safety in English football's fourth tier, and so the reason why the club chaplain asked for some divine intervention to help his team along the way.
A Swans fanatic, Johns admits it took little encouragement to ensure the voice of the Jack Army was finely-tuned come kick-off time.
But it took a big, united effort from everyone concerned at a club he feels is blessed.
Here, he talks about his recollections and stories from that unforgettable day. . . .

"On the day it was no different to what it is today. But we needed a special atmosphere that day.
"The fans didn't need much motivation, because of what was at stake.
"The week leading up to the game was like a cup final.
"We agreed to play the national anthem so we asked the Football League for permission. They said as it was a normal league game we couldn't line the teams up but we could play whatever we like.
"So myself I told Steve Mabbutt, who plays the music, as soon as I hear him start to play the anthem I'd tell the fans to get onto their feet and sing our national anthem.
"And I swear to this day I could hear the first part of the song play, and I started singing away and Steve was looking at me out of his window with a shocked expression.
"He hadn't played the anthem, so I had to sing the rest of it.
"I remember introducing the teams as they came out getting shooting pains in my head.
"I had high blood pressure which took me years to get rid of.
"We could have been viewing one of the last games at the Vetch. That was a horrible thought.
"I had a little moment a few days before the game. I was stood on the North Bank when the whole stadium was empty.
"It's difficult to ask God to help your team win, but I said 'God, I am a man of faith and you know how much I love the football club, and I've never asked you to help us win a game because there are believers at other teams, but we're playing Exeter - they are run by someone who bends spoons (Uri Geller) - surely there is nothing wrong with asking you to help us beat them.
"And that was the one time I made a real prayer to God for the Swans to win.
"We did go on to win that game because our players were outstanding and the fans too. The North Bank were amazing that day.
"The post-match celebrations were incredible. I started the crowd singing the anthem and some Swans songs, and the players and management crammed into the directors' box.
"I remember Brian Flynn pointing at a supporter and telling him 'I told you I would do it, I told you I would keep us up.
"The fan looked sheepish, so he must have doubted him earlier in the season.
"The day after that game my first prayer was one of thanks.
"Swansea City has always been so supportive of chaplaincy. Maybe we are a blessed club!
"A play was written about it, of course, called To Hull and Back.
"It packed Swansea Grand for the two-night show. It was crammed with football fans, not regular theatre goers.
"They came in their shirts and scarves, they asked for the Ticket Office not Box Office, and asked how long half-time was instead of the interval.
"It was nice to see, and it just showed how important that club is to the fans."