Jack the Lad: Feeling the Blues

15th August 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad looks ahead to Friday night's clash with Birmingham City.

Birmingham City was one of the names which jumped out at me when the Swans’ Championship fixture list was released.

I’m not sure exactly why, but I was genuinely excited at the prospect of playing the Brummies again.

It’s been 10 years since we faced the St Andrew’s outfit in the league – and that was a 0-0 draw – but I’ve always had something of a soft spot for the Midlands club.

Perhaps it’s because they were regularly in the news back in the late 1970s when I really started getting interested in football.

For some reason, when I think of Birmingham City, the first image to spring to mind is of the wild-haired World Cup winner Alberto Tarantini, who signed for the club in 1978.

Perhaps it’s the eye-catching shock of curly black locks he sported, or the classic blue Adidas kit with the white collar and iconic stripes down the sleeves the club boasted back then, but that’s the image I associate with Birmingham City.

Signing Tarantini was quite a coup for the club as there were very few foreign players plying their trade in English football at the time.

The full-back was following in the footsteps of fellow Argentinian World Cup winners Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa, who had been signed by Spurs and were going down a storm at White Hart Lane.

Alberto also whipped up a storm, in his own way. Unfortunately it wasn’t as positive as the one generated by his countrymen down in London.

It’s surprising he’s stayed in my memory so long, because he only played 23 games for the Blues before heading back to Argentina.

But he certainly made an impression during his short time at St Andrew’s.

The 61-times capped defender who arrived for a then whopping fee of £295,000, will be best remembered for two incidents in particular.

The first was leaving Manchester United defender Brian Greenhoff lying spark out on the pitch and the second – which ultimately brought his time in England to an end – saw him clambering into the St Andrew’s crowd to thump a heckler during a match.

Not Birmingham’s best bit of transfer business, especially as it was later revealed Tarantini was on a bumper salary and had negotiated all sorts of extras into his contract including a car.

The club’s next bit of big business saw them hit the headlines again in the late 1970s when they sold local hero Trevor Francis to Nottingham Forest.

The England international became football’s first £1 million player when he signed on the dotted line with Forest’s legendary manager Brian Clough standing over him with a squash racket in hand.

How times have changed on the transfer front from those far away days when foreign imports were a rarity and you could buy a top-flight international striker for £1 million!

The recent transfer window saw a foreign goalkeeper signed by Chelsea for £72million, or to put it in 1970s currency, 72 Trevor Francises.

Anyway, no matter how times may have changed, it will be nice to see the Swans lining up against Birmingham again, especially with the added interest of Swans playing legend and manager Gary Monk being in charge of the home team.

C’mon you Swans!