MEMORY MATCH: Andy Leitch
7th November 2016
In the latest installment of our 'Memory Match' feature, Andy Leitch looks back on a Boxing Day victory over Watford in 1975.
Swansea City's meeting with Watford in the old Division Four on Boxing Day 1975 came just before a remarkable period in the two club's history.
In the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons, both the Swans and Hornets achieved back-to-back promotions, under the management of John Toshack and Graham Taylor respectively, to get to the second tier of the Football League.
Toshack guided the Swans into the top flight at the end of the 1980-81 season, while Taylor achieved the same feat for Watford the following season.
The 1975-76 season didn't offer much indication of the bright years ahead for the clubs, with Watford finishing eighth in Division Four while the Swans came 11th.
The teams, then managed by Harry Griffiths and Mike Keen, did serve up a memorable encounter on Boxing Day that year, though, which is fondly remembered by ex-Swans forward Andy Leitch.
"Watford were a decent footballing outfit that season and so were we," comments Leitch, who had signed for the Swans from non-league side Paulton Rovers at the beginning of the campaign.
"We had some really gifted individuals like Robbie James, Alan Curtis, Wyndham Evans and Pat Lally.
"I remember Ross Jenkins was playing that afternoon for Watford. He was a striker I looked up to, as a tall lad like myself who scored lots of goals."
A crowd of 4,091 witnessed an entertaining first half at Vetch Field.
Trevor How and Arthur Horsfield scored for Watford but their efforts were cancelled out with both Roger Joslyn and Alan Garner putting through their own net.
Five minutes into the second period, a fine Swans move saw Danny Bartley released down the wing and he crossed for Leitch to give the home side the lead.
"I'm very surprised that goal was credited to me," laughs Leitch. "Danny Bartley hit a cross-cum-shot and it literally brushed against me and went in. As I striker, you'll take any goal you can though!
"Danny came from Somerset like me and he was a fantastic footballer. He played as a full-back or a winger and he was a great crosser of the ball.
"He would have made countless assists for players to score for Swansea during his long career (between 1973 and 1980) at the club."
Just 12 minutes later, Swansea unlocked the Watford defence once again.
Curtis applied the final touch to put the ball beyond the reach of Hornets goalkeeper Andy Rankin and complete the scoring that afternoon.
The Swans' 4-2 victory was their fifth home win in a row.
Having drawn 1-1 with Huddersfield Town at the Vetch in October 1975, Toshack's team went on to beat Darlington (2-0), Bradford City (3-1), Torquay United (3-0) and Hartlepool United (3-1) prior to the visit of the Hornets.
It wasn't until a 2-0 victory at Torquay in February 1976, though, that the Swans finally won a first away game of the 1975-76 season.
It was evident that Griffiths' team of the time very much liked their home comforts.
"The Vetch was a very special ground," says Leitch.
"The atmosphere and the tradition there was second to none and certainly, we always felt very well supported there as a group of players.
"My specific memory of the stadium is the great noise generated by the North Bank. It was a sad day for the club when they had to leave to the Vetch, but they have gone on to achieve fantastic things since leaving of course."
Leitch scored twice in the Swans' next home match after Watford, as they beat Crewe Alexandra 4-0 at home in early 1976.
However, a month later the striker was allowed to leave the club, having struggled to deal with the jump up from the non-league football he had been used with the likes of Cadbury Heath and Paulton to playing professionally.
"It was disappointing to have left Swansea having not completed a full season, but I think Harry realised that full-time football was a bit too much for me," reflects Leitch.
"I never took to full-time training in all honesty and Harry allowed me to move to Minehead, where I enjoyed a great time.
"I got six goals in 17 league appearances for Swansea, so I was at least pretty happy with my goals return."
After Minehead, Leitch also played for Bath City and Yeovil Town, and scored twice in the FA Vase Final at Wembley Stadium for Forest Green Rovers in 1982 as the Gloucestershire side won the competition.
He retired in 1985 having also turned out for Gloucester City and Dorchester Town.