Jack the Lad: The most wonderful time of the year

19th December 2018

Loyal Swans fan and website columnist Jack the Lad looks forward to a hectic festive period and escaping the turkey leftovers.

Christmas is probably my favourite time of the football season.

The anticipation of the start of the campaign is thrilling and the run-in at its climax can be unbearably exciting, but I absolutely love the holiday programme.

The games come thick and fast, they attract big crowds, and give you the opportunity to escape the family and turkey leftovers for a few hours!

So, to whet your appetite further for the festive football feast ahead, I thought I'd look back at five matches from the Christmas period during the 40 years I've supported the Swans.

One of the most memorable and hectic Yuletides I can recall came in 1980 when the Swans faced local rivals Bristol Rovers and Cardiff City on consecutive days.

Rovers were first up at the Vetch on Boxing Day. The Swans kept the previous day's celebrations going early on as Nigel Stevenson headed them into the lead after just three minutes.

Then the late, great Robbie James doubled their advantage when he beat Rovers' Welsh keeper Martin Thomas to make it 2-0.

Swansea-born Gary Emanuel, who would later play more than 100 matches for his hometown club, scored a late consolation goal for the bottom of the table visitors.

The Swans, who were second in the old Division Two, had no time to rest on their laurels as they had to travel down the M4 to Cardiff the following day for the big derby match.

This time it was the Swans who were to go behind when Gary Stevens put the home side ahead.

But the Swans came roaring back and Neil Robinson levelled, before Cardiff keeper Ron Healy failed to hold a Robbie James rocket and Alan Curtis followed up to put the Swans ahead.

With 20 minutes left, Leighton James' looping header looked like sealing the points for Swansea.

But with under five minutes left, Peter Kitchen pulled one back to set up a frantic finale.

Less than two minutes later, Cardiff were awarded a controversial free-kick 35-yards out. Through firmly gritted teeth, I have to admit John Buchanan's resulting equalising strike was a cracker. Even all these years later, those are hard words to type!

Despite the disappointment of that late leveller, the Swans had the last laugh and went on to gain promotion to the old First Division at the end of the season.

During that first season in the top flight of English football, the Swans enjoyed another memorable December occasion.

In what would be their last league match before Christmas, the Swans welcomed the reigning champions Aston Villa to the Vetch on an unforgettable night.

Two first-half goals from Robbie James, either side of a Max Thompson own goal, gave the Swans a 2-1 win against the side who would go on to lift the European Cup later in the season.

Talking of the top flight, the festive season in 2014 saw us gain a couple of wins against our next two opponents this season.

On December 20, we enjoyed a 1-0 win at Hull thanks to something of a Christmas gift when Jonjo Shelvey's long range shot deflected off Ki Sung-Yueng for a 15th minute winner..

Then, on Boxing Day, the Swans repeated the feat at the Liberty Stadium against Aston Villa when Gylfi Sigurdsson's dipping free-kick from the edge of the box claimed the points in another 1-0 win. It was the Swans first Boxing Day triumph since 2007.

A repeat of those two victories over the next week or so would go a long way towards making Christmas 2018 another memorable one for the club and its fans!

C'mon you Swans!