Jack the Lad: Happy memories

22nd October 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad looks ahead - and back - as his team get set for fixtures against Blackburn Rovers and Reading.

Swansea City playing Blackburn Rovers and Reading in the same week is sure to spark plenty of historic nostalgia as well as more recent memories.

Two of the Swans’ most famous victories were achieved over the clubs who visit the Liberty this week.

One will still be relatively fresh in the memories of those who were there on that wonderful Wembley day in 2011 when the Swans clinched their Premier League place against the Royals.

While the other stretches back to the very earliest days of the Swans’ history, when the club produced one of the greatest FA Cup upsets of all time.

Due to the fact it happened over 100 years ago, the Swans first-round victory over Blackburn Rovers isn’t as well documented as some of the club’s more recent achievements.

But if the writers of Roy of the Rovers had come up with this story, the editor would have laughed them out of his office because it was too far-fetched.

Rovers arrived at Vetch Field in 1915 as the champions of England, having swept to the league title the previous season.

By contrast, the Swans were in Division Two of the Southern League, and just three years into their history.

They had qualified for the first round thanks to victories over Newport County, Port Vale and Leicester Fosse.

The visitors boasted four England internationals plus a former Scottish international and were lying second in the old First Division having won the previous year’s title by seven points.

Swansea were a team of largely inexperienced professionals and their replacement centre-forward for the match was an amateur who had been playing rugby union for Swansea RFC until just a few months earlier.

Ben Beynon had only swapped the oval ball for the round one as a result of the suspension of amateur rugby union following the declaration of the First World War.

However, Beynon was to become the most unlikely of heroes in the 20th minute when he put the Swans 1-0 up in front of a 16,000 crowd at the Vetch.

The Swans managed to hold on to their lead until half-time, despite coming under intense pressure. Their uphill task became even steeper early in the second half when they were reduced to 10 men due to injury.

Their resistance appeared to be over when Rovers were awarded a penalty. Forward stepped their spot-kick specialist Billy Bradshaw who had netted his previous 36 attempts from 12 yards.

However, fate was on Swansea’s side and the master penalty-taker shot weakly wide.

With 10 minutes left, the Swans were reduced to just nine men when Harry Read left the field injured, but remarkably they hung on to win the match 1-0.

So the nine men from the recently formed Southern League Division Two side had beaten the star-studded champions of England with a goal from an amateur rugby player. See what I mean about Roy of the Rovers?

While the 1915 FA Cup victory may have been consigned to the history books, the 4-2 play-off final win over Reading is still very much fresh in the memory of many Swans fans.

The magnificent Swans first-half performance, Garry Monk’s vital block as Reading threatened to come back from 3-0 down, the utter relief as Scott Sinclair completed his hat-trick to put the Swans 4-2 up and manager Brendan Rodgers being given the bumps at the end.

There are so many other memories from that day, but of all the stand-out moments that have stuck with me since then, there is always one which instantly springs to mind every time I hear the name Reading.

It’s Kevin Johns’s inspirational pre-match speech on the Wembley pitch and those immortal words when he described Reading's “anthem" as "their lovely song from Glee".

When the Swans fans belted out The Swansea City Song in reply to Reading’s rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing”, the Swans were effectively already 1-0 up before a ball was kicked, all thanks to our Kev’s killer put down.

This week’s games may not quite carry the historical significance of the fixtures above, but two similar results would certainly put the smile back on the faces of Swans fans after a couple of recent defeats, and bring some happy memories flooding back.

C’mon you Swans!