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OTJ column: Remembering Big Kev

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.

A star of the dressing room

His character made him the glue in the Swansea City dressing room.

He may not have been a goalscorer or a flair player, and as a result he did not make the headlines every week.

But Kevin Austin was such an important personality for Swansea during the three years I spent with him at the club.

When you first set eyes on the big man, he was a really intimidating figure to look at.

But he made everyone feel at home in our dressing room.

He was an absolute gent – I’ve never heard a bad word said about him.

He was a joker, but he was a silent joker. He went about his business quietly, loading the bullets for someone else to get a laugh by firing the gun.

I remember when I first came to Swansea on trial.

We had some alternative training in pre-season, doing things like mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons.

Kevin and Bayo Akinfenwa were two of the biggest, most intimidating footballers you could meet.

But they were both terrified because they were in a field with a few sheep.

They were lads from the city who were not sure if the sheep were dangerous or if they might attack them.

It gave the rest of us a good laugh.

It’s a very sad time, of course, but it does put a smile on my face thinking about Kev and the times we spent together.

I hadn’t spoken to him that much over the years, but we exchanged a few messages after he became ill.

The way handled the illness was admirable. There was no fuss and he just got on with things until the very end.

When you see somebody like Big Kev suffering the way he did, it makes you appreciate life that much more.

 

Brentford memories

Kev was part of the team the last time the Swans were in the same division as Brentford.

The most recent league meetings were in 2006-07, but it is the season before which springs to mind when Brentford get mentioned.

As all Swans fans will remember, we played them in the play-off semi-finals that year.

We had finished the season badly.

It was our first year at the Liberty, and we were flying early on but then lost our way.

I like to think it is no coincidence that the bad spell came when I had a period out injured.

Anyway, we drew the first leg against Brentford at home thanks to a goal from Sam Ricketts, whose shot took about six deflections before going into the net.

That meant we went to Griffin Park as the underdogs, but Leon Knight scored two early goals in the second leg and we knew then that it would take something special for Brentford to turn the tie around.

We had some very good strikers at the club at the time, and Knighty finished that season in great form.

I know Leon Britton had played with him and Jermain Defoe as a youngster, and Knighty was regarded as the better finisher at the time.

He was not at Swansea too long but he certainly left his mark.

It was just a shame that we could not create a couple more chances for him in the play-off final against Barnsley.

 

Sting the Bees?

Fast forward to today, and Graham Potter hopes to become the latest Swans manager to taste victory at Brentford.

It was a difficult week last week, with defeats against Norwich, West Brom and Derby, but it will be a week the players can learn from.

In the short term it is hard to see the positives, but you hope the experience will benefit Potter’s young squad further down the line.

Now it is about getting a reaction, because you do not want three straight defeats to turn into four or five.

It does not matter how you do it at times like this – you just need to grit your teeth and get a result to end the poor run.

Once you have done that, you can start to look ahead again.

It’s not all doom and gloom – far from it. I think people were aware that it was – it is – going to take time for Potter to build the team he wants.

But the Swans will be desperate to get something against a Brentford side who have not had the best run themselves.

I think the key factor on Saturday will be which team can control the ball better, because that’s what both sides want to do.

 

Up for the cup

The Welsh Premier League takes a break this weekend because of the Welsh Cup.

The live game on S4C sees Flint, who are going well in the Cymru Alliance, take on Bala Town.

Flint will feel that on their own patch, they have a chance to cause an upset.

I am looking forward to that game, and to seeing how all the sides who are going well in the Welsh Premier League deal with the pressure of being favourites in their respective cup ties.

Connah’s Quay and Barry both won in the league last weekend. They are proving they can handle the pressure of being at the top of the table.

The whole division is exciting right now. We don’t know who is going to win the title, who is going to be in the play-off places for European football and who is going to get relegated.

It’s competitive throughout, and that is great for the fans.

JD Welsh Cup Third Round – selected ties

Saturday, December 8

Flint Town United v Bala Town (Live on S4C at 7.20pm)
Cwmamman United v Aberystwyth Town
Cwmbran Celtic v The New Saints

Llangefni Town v Llanelli Town
Goytre Utd v Carmarthen Town
Haverfordwest County v Pontypridd Town
Ynysddu Welfare v Cefn Druids

Watch Sgorio at 5.30pm on Monday for highlights from the Welsh Cup 3rd Round, and follow @sgorio on Twitter and Facebook for updates and goals.

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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Seren yn yr ystafell newid

Doedd o ddim yn sgorio goliau a doedd o ddim yn hawlio penawdau’r papurau newydd bob wythnos. Ond tra oedd o yn y clwb, Kevin Austin oedd y glud oedd yn dal ystafell newid Abertawe at ei gilydd.

Yn ystod y tair blynedd nes i dreulio gyda fo, roedd Kevin Austin yn chwaraewr a phersonoliaeth allweddol i'r tîm.

Roedd o’n ddyn mawr ac yn edrych fel person na fysech chi eisiau ei groesi. Ond mi oedd o’n gwneud i bawb i deimlo’n gartrefol yn yr ystafell newid. Roedd o wir yn ŵr bonheddig.

Ond mi oedd o’n joio dipyn bach o dynnu coes hefyd, yn ffordd distaw ei hun, ac yn chwerthin ar ben yr hogiau.

Dw i’n cofio pan gyrhaeddais i yn Abertawe ar gyfnod trial cyn dechrau tymor newydd. Cyn y tymor, mae chwaraewyr yn cael hyfforddiant gwahanol i’r arfer, cael gwneud pethau fel seiclo ym Mannau Brycheiniog.

Kevin a Bayo Akinfenwa oedd y ddau chwaraewr mwyaf dychrynllyd fysech chi erioed eisiau wynebu ar gae bêl-droed. Ond roedd bod mewn cae efo ychydig o ddefaid yn ddigon i godi braw arnyn nhw. Hogiau o’r ddinas oedden nhw, dim efo clem os byddai‘r defaid yn ymosod arnynt. Ond roedd gweddill yr hogiau yn rolio chwerthin am eu pennau!

Mae’n adeg trist iawn, ond mae meddwl am yr atgofion sydd gen i o Kev yn rhoi gwen ar fy wyneb. Doedden ni heb siarad llawer dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf, ond wedi rhannu ambell i neges ar ôl iddo fod yn sâl.

Fe wnaeth o ymdopi mor dda gyda’r salwch, yn parhau gyda’i fywyd heb fuss tan ydiwedd.

Pan ‘da chi’n gweld rhywun fel Big Kev yn dioddef fel ‘na, mae’n gwneud i chi werthfawrogi bywyd ychydig mwy.

 

Atgofion Brentford

Roedd Kev yn y tîm y tro diwethaf roedd yr Elyrch yn yr un adran a Brentford. Yn ystod tymor 2006-07 oedd y gêm gynghrair diwethaf rhwng y ddau dîm, ond gemau’r tymor cyn hynny sy’n dod i’r meddwl gyntaf.

Bydd cefnogwyr y Swans yn cofio mai dyna’r tymor wnaethon ni wynebu nhw yn rownd gynderfynol y gemau ail gyfle.

Hwnna oedd ein tymor cyntaf yn y Liberty, ac ar ôl dechreuad da, fe wnaethon ni orffen y tymor yn wan. Nid cyd-ddigwyddiad oedd o fod canlyniadau wedi dirywio tra oeddwn i wedi anafu - yn fy marn i beth bynnag!

Ar ôl i gôl ffodus gan Sam Ricketts sicrhau gêm gyfartal 1-1 yn y Liberty yn y cymal cyntaf, ni oedd yr underdogs wrth i ni fynd oddi cartref am yr ail gymal.

Ond fe sgoriodd Leon Knight dwy gôl wych ar ddechrau’r gêm, ac roedden ni’n gwybod bod angen i Brentford wneud rhywbeth gwyrthiol i fynd drwodd. Roedd ‘na ymosodwyr gwych yn y clwb ar y pryd, ac roedd Knighty yn un ohonyn nhw.

Roedd Leon Britton wedi chwarae efo fo yn ifanc, ac roedd Knighty yn cael ei ystyried fel ymosodwr gwell na Jermaine Defoe ar y pryd. Doedd o ddim yn Abertawe am hir, ond mi ddaru o adael ei stamp ar y lle.

Trueni na ‘wnaethon ni greu cyfle neu ddau ychwanegol iddo yn y rownd derfynol yn erbyn Barnsley.

 

A fydd y gwenyn yn pigo?

Felly ymlaen at ddydd Sadwrn, a thro Graham Potter fydd hi i geisio hawlio buddugoliaeth yn Griffin Park. Wedi tair colled yn erbyn Norwich, West Brom a Derby, roedd wythnos diwethaf yn un anodd, ond un all y chwaraewyr ddysgu ohono.

Yn y tymor byr, maen anodd gweld yr ochr bositif, ond nawr mae angen ymateb a dod a’r rhediad yna i ben.

Tydi’r darlun ddim yn dywyll i’r Elyrch o bell ffordd. Mae’n mynd i gymryd amser i Potter adeiladu’r tîm mae o eisiau, ac mae pobl yn deall hynny.

Ond mi fydd y Swans yn awyddus i drechu Brentford, sydd ddim ar y rhediad orau eu hunain.

Yr agwedd bwysicaf o’r gêm dydd Sadwrn fydd pa dîm fydd yn gallu rheoli’r meddiant orau, oherwydd dyna’r peth mae’r ddau dîm yn dda yn gwneud.

 

Amser am Gwpan Cymru

Mae’r Uwch Gynghrair yn cael seibiant y penwythnos hwn oherwydd ei bod hi’n benwythnos Cwpan Cymru. Yng ngêm byw Sgorio, bydd y Fflint o’r Cymru Alliance, yn herio Bala. Ar domen eu hunain, bydd Fflint yn hyderus yn erbyn eu gwrthwynebwyr o’r adran uchaf.

Mi ydw i’n edrych ymlaen at y gêm, ac i weld sut mae’r timau Uwch Gynghrair yn ymdopi efo’u statws fel ffefrynnau.

Fe enillodd Cei Connah a Barri yn y Gynghrair penwythnos diwethaf. Maen nhw wedi dangos eu bod yn gallu dygymod â’r pwysau tua brig y tabl.

Mae’r gynghrair yn mynd drwy gyfnod cyffrous, does neb yn gwybod pwy sydd am ennill y bencampwriaeth, pwy sydd am sicrhau lle yn gemau ail-gyfle Ewrop, a phwy sydd am ddisgyn o’r adran. Mae’n gystadleuol tu hwnt, sydd yn grêt i’r cefnogwyr.

 

Trydedd Rownd Cwpan Cymru JD – detholiad o’r gemau

Saturday 8 December
Y Fflint v Y Bala (Yn fyw ar S4C am 7.20pm)
Cwmamman United v Aberystwyth
Cwmbran Celtic v Y Seintiau Newydd

Llangefni v Llanelli
Goytre Utd v Caerfyrddin
Hwlffordd v Pontypridd
Ynysddu Welfare v Derwyddon Cefn

Gwyliwch Sgorio am 5.30pm ar nos Lun i weld uchafbwyntiau o drydedd rownd Cwpan Cymru JD, a dilynwch @sgorio ar Twitter a Facebook am y diweddaraf yn ystod y penwythnos.

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