Jack the Lad: I've seen it all - almost

14th March 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad craves victory against Spurs this weekend - and insists cup success can go hand in hand with Premier League progress.

In 40 years of supporting the Swans, I have seen pretty much everything there is to see.

The Toshack-inspired, supercharged rise from the Fourth Division to First, and the even more spectacular descent from First to Fourth.

There have been play-off and cup final wins at both the old and new Wembley stadiums, as well as legendary giantkillings, like the night we beat Saturday’s opponents Spurs in the League Cup replay in 1978. That was the year Ossie definitely wasn’t going to Wembley!

There have been European glory nights and unforgettable Premier League wins and campaigns.

I’ve even watched the Swans fight for their Football League survival – both on and off the pitch.

But I have never seen them play in an FA Cup quarter-final. Even better, now the chance finally comes, it that it’s a home quarter-final, so I absolutely can’t wait for Saturday!

The cup may not be what it used to be for many, but for someone of my generation, who was brought up on its romance and history, this is still a hugely important and evocative competition.

Some of my earliest club football memories surround the FA Cup.

As a youngster I was more interested in international football than the club game.

The first club match I really remember watching was the 1976 FA Cup Final between Southampton and Manchester United.

Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that very few club matches were shown live on TV in those days.

The match had everything a neutral could want from an FA Cup final – a beautiful sunny May afternoon, a decent match and a huge giantkilling as the Second Division Saints beat the mighty Red Devils.

My first live experience of the FA Cup came in far less glamorous circumstances than a televised Wembley final.

It was a first round match against the part-timers of Hillingdon Borough at the Vetch on a cold November afternoon in 1978.

Despite the non-league opposition and the early round, I was hugely excited to be at an FA Cup match.

And the experience was made even better by the fact the Swans won 4-1.

Unfortunately, that season’s cup run was halted by an inspirational performance by Bristol Rovers’ Welsh goalkeeper Martin Thomas in the third round.

But every season since, I have hoped for FA Cup success for the Swans, especially as our neighbours from up the road are the only Welsh club to take the cup out of England.

Many people would say that this year’s cup run has been a negative distraction, adding extra games to the fixture list as the club strive to secure Premier League survival.

But to me, our cup run has been a huge positive for the club, especially the 8-1 win over Notts County in the fourth-round replay.

Ok, the opposition may not have been of the highest standard, but the quality of the Swans' goals that night certainly can’t be questioned.

Such a performance, especially as it was broadcast live on terrestrial TV, could only have been a huge boost for players and fans alike.

One of the questions that annoys me most is what I would choose, winning the FA Cup or Premier League survival.

Why does there have to be a choice? The Swans are good enough to win the cup and stay up.

Call me greedy, but I want both and I can’t see any reason why that can’t happen.

This Saturday’s match has the feel of a proper, old-fashioned cup tie about it, so let’s get behind the Swans and cheer them on all the way to Wembley.

C’mon you Swans!