OTJ column: The Hand of Tate

26th September 2018
First team

In his fourth column of the season, former midfielder Owain Tudur Jones gives his views on all things Swansea City.

OTJ made 56 appearances for the Swans during a four-year period in which he helped the club win the League One title and the Football League Trophy.

Now, after a 13-year career which saw him play for eight clubs and earn seven Wales caps, he is working in the media as a respected pundit.

Here, he brings you his latest column.

The hand of Tate

Queens Park Rangers visiting the Liberty brings back one particular fond memory for me - and I didn't even play.

It was back in 2008 - a 0-0 draw on a Tuesday night in Swansea. Sounds pretty low key.

But it was anything but thanks to a mixture of events.

Our flying Dutchman Dorus de Vries got injured after about 20 minutes, so an opportunity arose for our back-up keeper.

Except we didn't have a keeper on the bench that night as Roberto Martinez felt the chances of your man between the sticks getting sent off or injured were extremely small.

Up stepped Alan Tate. To be fair, I can't remember many players putting their hands up as Dorus went off, so Tatey donned the gloves and put on an oversized keeper shirt - he looked just the part.

The funny thing was Tatey didn't have much to do that night. We absolutely hammered QPR without scoring, and had no fewer than 17 corners to their one.

It was in that game that we realised we were good enough to compete with the more established clubs in the division.

We had come up from League One and were yet to get going, but that game really injected confidence in us as we dominated them with our free-flowing passing style.

For the record, we beat Southampton the following week. And yes, Roberto did name a sub keeper - Dimi Konstantopoulos - on the bench for that one. The outfield player to miss out on the bench from the QPR game? Swansea's very own 'Sergio Busquets', as Roberto once memorably dubbed me!

Bienvenido a casa Angel

It will be difficult to see Angel Rangel playing at the Liberty wearing a different badge this weekend.

Angel is the ultimate professional and he was an unbelievable servant to the Swans. I loved playing with him.

When he arrived he couldn't speak a word of English, but now he is fluent in English and speaks Welsh. As long as he doesn't pinch any of my Welsh media work, we'll remain as mates.

Jokes aside, that just shows how much he immersed himself into life in Swansea and Wales. He was fully committed to the culture here and on the pitch he contributed so much in the club's rise.

He changed the face of attacking full-backs in the lower leagues. He had an engine that would challenge a Ferrari and a commitment to his team-mates that you don't see so often.

He was a massive team player - he made so many unselfish runs in order to create space for us and his quality and confidence on the ball was unrivalled in the lower leagues.

Everyone could see how good he was on the pitch, but in training he was just as committed. He's a lovely guy but as soon as the whistle went in training he was in your face and desperate to win every single game.

Then the session ended and he was back to the bubbly guy he is.

It was a shame to see him go this summer, but I'm glad he's still playing.

He'll be in opposition colours on Saturday, but one thing is for sure - he will get the fantastic ovation from the Jack Army that he deserves.

As we say: Once a Jack, always a Jack.

Welcome to the Championship

Within the space of a week, the Swans were given a real flavour of the division.

Nottingham Forest at the Liberty followed by trips to Stoke City and Middlesbrough. Brutal.

Graham Potter would have been disappointed by the performance against Forest. The Swans just didn't get going.

But this happens in the Championship. It's a long season and even the best teams in the league experience difficult days.

So it was good to see the reaction at Stoke a few days later. The Swans were good, despite making seven changes and being short of a few key midfielders, though they ended up losing.

As it was, my old pal Joe Allen proved the difference thanks in part to the officials failing to notice that he was offside on two occasions before he scored the winning goal.

I spent time with Joe the following day and he was in good form. You can hear him talk about that game and his time at Swansea in my latest podcast. A shameless podcast plug, but it's worth it.

Then it was a long, long, long trip to Middlesbrough. I salute the fans who made the trip because it takes a lot of time, effort and money.

It wasn't a fantastic game and Swansea didn't create a great deal, but hey, a point at Middlesbrough is a good return.

Boro had won all their league games at the Riverside before that, so for Swansea to pick up a clean sheet will give them more confidence going forward.

Home and away

It's strange to see the Swans have picked up more points away (eight) than at home (five).

They have played a game more on their travels, but it may indicate that their style is more suited to playing away.

The home win over Preston has been followed by a draw with Leeds, defeat to Bristol City and a goalless draw with Forest.

One win in four home games is not great, which means victory over QPR this weekend is much needed.

Opponents will naturally come here with a more defensive approach, so it's vital that Potter's attacking players find a way to unlock QPR's backline.

We are nine games into the Championship now, and I think the Swans are coming up to a junction in the season.

The next few results will give us an indication of where they are likely to be come May.

They have already played three of the top four - and five of the teams in the top nine, so they have nothing to fear.

Welsh Premier League

Just like the Swans' season, the Welsh Premier League is getting closer to an important point in the campaign.

So far The New Saints are having trouble shaking off the teams pushing them at the top, and it's great to see that level of competition.

TNS drew 0-0 at home to Bala on Friday and that is a result that will really disappoint them.

It was a real shot in the arm for Connah's Quay Nomads as they went on to win 4-0 at Llandudno the following. They will have enjoyed that result - manager Andy Morrison in particular - as Nomads sit just a point behind TNS with seven games gone.

Connah's Quay will expect to beat Carmarthen at home this weekend, which should put pressure on TNS when they visit Cardiff Met in the live Sgorio game on Sunday.

At the other end of the table, Llanelli are finding life tough back in the top flight.

That happens to most teams, but the loss of Magic Daps, Lee Trundle, in the summer has really affected them.

The Reds host Newtown at Stebonheath Park on Friday night, and victory there would be a huge boost to their chances of avoiding an early relegation battle.

Friday: Bala Town v Llandudno (7.45pm)

Cefn Druids v Caernarfon Town(7.45pm)

Llanelli v Newtown (7.45pm)

Saturday: Aberystwyth Town v Barry Town United (2.30pm)

Connah’s Quay Nomads v Carmarthen Town(2.30pm)

Sunday: Cardiff Met v The New Saints (12.45pm – live on S4C)

Listen to OTJ’s regular podcast - The Longman's Football World Podcast – on iTunes, PodBean and all good podcast apps.
You can also follow OTJ on Instagram and Twitter.

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Tate yn achub y dydd

Gyda Queen’s Park Rangers yn dod i’r Liberty, mae un gêm yn dod i’r cof yn syth bin – a doeddwn i ddim hyd yn oed yn chwarae!

Tymor 2008 oedd hi - gêm ddi-sgôr ar nos Fawrth yn Abertawe. Mae’n swnio0 fel noson ddifflach. Ond am sawl rheswm, roedd o’n noson i’w chofio.

Cafodd ein gôl-geidwad Dorus de Vries ei anafu ar ôl 20 munud, felly gafodd yr eilydd ei gyfle. Ond, doedd ddim gôl-geidwad ar y fainc oherwydd doedd Roberto Martinez ddim yn meddwl y byddai Dorus druan yn cael ei hel o’r maes - boed hynny oherwydd anaf neu ddiffyg disgyblaeth.

Pwy ddaeth i achub y sefyllfa? Alan Tate. I fod yn deg, dw i ddim yn cofio gweld llawer o’r chwaraewyr eraill yn gwirfoddoli, felly rhoddodd Tate y menyg a’r crys enfawr ymlaen – roedd o’n edrych yn hollol naturiol.

Y peth doniol oedd, ni chafodd o lawer i’w wneud. Fe wnaethon ni roi cweir i QPR, heb sgorio’r un gôl. Y gêm yna wnaeth i ni sylweddoli ein bod ni’n ddigon da i gystadlu efo clwbiau mwya’r adran. Ar ôl ennill dyrchafiad o League One, y gêm yna wnaeth roi’r hyder i ni allu chwarae pêl-droed deiniadol gyda digon o basio.

Yr wythnos wedyn yn erbyn Southampton, mi wnaeth Roberto ddewis gôl-geidwad ar y fainc – Dimi Kinstantopoulos. Pwy oedd y chwaraewr o’r gêm QPR i ddisgyn allan o’r garfan yn gyfan gwbl? ‘Sergio Busquets’ Abertawe ei hun – geiriau Roberto, dim rhai fi!

Bienvenido a casâ Angel

Mi fydd o’n brofiad rhyfedd gweld Angel Rangel yn y Liberty yn gwisgo bathodyn clwb gwahanol y penwythnos yma.

Mae Angel yn broffesiynol tu hwnt ac mi roedd o’n was ffyddlon i’r Swans. Ro’n i wrth fy modd yn chwarae efo fo.

Pan ‘naeth o gyrraedd, doedd o methu siarad gair o Saesneg, ond erbyn hyn mae o’n rhugl ac yn gallu siarad Cymraeg yn ogystal - cyn belled a bod o ddim yn dwyn fy ngwaith yn y cyfryngau Cymraeg, nawn ni aros yn fêts!

Ond o ddifri, mae hynny’n dangos gymaint ‘naeth o daflu ei hun i mewn i fywyd yn Abertawe a Chymru. Roedd o’n hollol gefnogol o ddiwylliant yr ardal ac ar y cae, fe gyfrannodd o gymaint ag unrhyw un at dyfiant y clwb.

Fe ddaru o newid y ffordd o chwarae i gefnwyr ochr dde a chwith yn yr adrannau isaf. Roedd o mor hyderus ar y bêl, roedd ganddo injan a hanner ac roedd ei rediadau di-stop mor bwysig i’r tîm.

Roedd o’n siom i weld o’n gadael dros yr haf ond dw i yn falch fod o’n dal i chwarae.

Fydd o’n un o’r gwrthwynebwyr ddydd Sadwrn, ond mae un peth yn sicr – mi gaiff o groeso a hanner gan y Jack Army.

Unwaith yn Jac, bob amser yn Jac.

Croeso i’r Bencampwriaeth

O fewn wythnos, fe gafodd y Swans flas go iawn ar fywyd yn yr adran yma. Nottingham Forest yn y Liberty ac yna ymweliadau i Stoke City a Middlesbrough. Anodd dros ben.

Ond dyma sy’n digwydd yn y Bencampwriaeth, mae’n dymor hir iawn.

Ar ôl perfformiad gwael yn erbyn Forest, ro’n i’n falch o weld ymateb da yn Stoke. Er sawl newid i’r tîm, roedd yr Elyrch yn dda - ond colli ‘naethon nhw yn y diwedd.

Fy hen ffrind Joe Allen wnaeth y cyfraniad hollbwysig ond y swyddogion oedd ar fai, yn gadael i’r gôl sefyll er y ffaith bod Joe yn camsefyll ddwywaith yn ystod y symudiad arweiniodd at y gôl.

Cefais ychydig o amser efo Joe y diwrnod wedyn ac mi oedd o mewn hwyliau da. Cewch glywed o’n trafod y gêm yna a’i amser hapus yn Abertawe yn fy mhodlediad diweddaraf. Plug digywilydd i’r pod, ond mae wir werth gwrando.!

Ar ôl Stoke, roedd gan y Swans daith hir, - hir iawn - i Middlesbrough i edrych ymlaen ato. Mae’n rhaid cymeradwyo’r cefnogwyr ‘naeth y daith yna, oherwydd mae’n cymryd lot fawr o amser, ymdrech ac arian.

Doedd o ddim yn gêm wych a ‘naeth y Swans fethu creu llawer o gyfleoedd, ond mae pwynt oddi gartref yn Middlesbrough yn ganlyniad da.

Roedden nhw ‘di ennill pob gêm yn y Riverside cyn hynny, felly fydd y ffaith bod nhw ‘di mynd yna a chadw llechen lân yn rhoi hwb i hyder yr Elyrch at weddill y tymor.

Cryfder oddi cartref

Mae’n rhyfedd gweld bod y Swans wedi ennill fwy o’u pwyntiau hyd yma oddi cartref (wyth) nag yn y Liberty (pump).

Maen nhw wedi chwarae un gêm yn fwy i ffwrdd, ond fe all hyn ddangos bod eu ffordd o chwarae yn siwtio chwarae oddi cartref.

Dydi un fuddugoliaeth mewn pedwar gêm gartref ddim yn record wych, felly bydd angen buddugoliaeth dros QPR y penwythnos yma.

Mae gwrthwynebwyr yn dod i’r Liberty i chwarae’n fwy amddiffynnol, felly mae’n bwysig bod y chwaraewyr ymosodol yn canfod ffordd drwy amddiffyn QPR.

Wedi 9 gêm yn nhymor y Bencampwriaeth, dw i’n meddwl fod y Swans yn dod at gyffordd bwysig yn eu tymor. Mi wnaiff y canlyniadau nesaf rhoi syniad da i ni o ble fydd y tîm ym mis Mai.

Maen nhw eisoes wedi chwarae yn erbyn tri o’r timau yn y pedwar uchaf - a phump allan o’r naw uchaf, felly does dim bydd iddyn nhw ofni.

Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD

Yn debyg i dymor y Swans, mae’r tymor Uwch Gynghrair Cymru JD yn agosáu at droad arwyddocaol yn y tymor.

Cafodd Y Seintiau Newydd gêm ddi-sgôr yn erbyn Y Bala nos Wener, ac mi fydd y canlyniad yna yn siom fawr iddyn nhw. Ond mi oedd o’n hwb enfawr i Gei Connah, wrth iddyn nhw drechu Llandudno o bedair gôl i ddim y diwrnod wedyn. Mi fydd eu rheolwr Andy Morrison wedi mwynhau hynny, wrth i’r Nomads eistedd bwynt tu ôl i’r Seintiau yn y tabl ar ôl saith gêm.

Mae disgwyl i Gei Connah guro Caerfyrddin gartref y penwythnos yma, ac mi ddylai hynny roi rhagor o bwysau ar y Seintiau pan maen nhw’n ymweld â Met Caerdydd ar ddydd Sul, ar gyfer gêm fyw Sgorio.

Ar ben arall y tabl, mae Llanelli’n cael hi’n anodd yn eu tymor cyntaf yn ôl yn yr Uwch Gynghrair. Mae hynny’n digwydd i’r rhan fwyaf o dimoedd sy’n ennill dyrchafiad, ond mae colli Lee Trundle a’i draed hudolus dros yr haf wedi cael effaith ddrwg arnyn nhw.

Mae’r cochion yn croesawu’r Drenewydd i Stebonheath nos Wener, ac mi fyddai buddugoliaeth yn rhoi hwb amserol i’w gobeithion nhw o osgoi cwympo o‘r adran.

Dydd Gwener: Y Bala v Llandudno (7.45pm)

Derwyddon Cefn v Caernarfon (7.45pm)

Llanelli v Y Drenewydd (7.45pm)

Dydd Sadwrn: Aberystwyth v Y Barri (2.30pm)

Cei Connah v Caerfyrddin (2.30pm)

Nos Sul: Met Caerdydd v Y Seintiau Newydd (12.45pm – Yn fyw ar S4C)

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