Swansea City story remains a fairytale for former captain Tommy Craig
14th August 2015
Former captain Tommy Craig returns to familiar surroundings this Saturday to see the Swansea City "fairytale" continue to prosper.
Craig will watch two of his former clubs battle it out when Newcastle visit the Liberty, with the 64-year-old also looking forward to his role as hospitality guest speaker for the day.
During his two years in South West Wales, Craig played a key role in Swansea's rise to the top, scoring nine goals in 59 league appearances for the club.
It was one match - and one goal - which stands out more than most, of course, for the Glaswegian.
"I have very fond memories from my time playing for Swansea," said Craig. "The people around the club were fantastic, and I can't speak highly enough of John Toshack and the board of directors.
"I joined the club when they were on the way up to the top division, and we had a number of local lads in the team. The likes of Robbie James, Jeremy Charles, Brian Attley, Wyndham Evans, Leighton James and John Mahoney were fantastic players who I really enjoyed playing alongside.
"The club was on the rise when I arrived, and winning promotion to the First Division with Swansea will remain among the fondest memories in my football career.
"Obviously, there is one day which stands out more than most.
"I can still remember the bus arriving at the stadium in Preston. It seemed like everyone from Swansea was there!
"Tosh tried to keep a lid on the enormity of it, which he did very well. And even though I wasn't a local lad, I could feel just how much it meant to the club, the people, and the city. To be in the top division would be a big achievement, and we did it.
"I was very lucky at Swansea in that the supporters were great to me. They were like an extra man at times with the noise they generated."
Craig left for Carlisle during Swansea's first foray in English football's top flight, but his interest in the club didn't end there.
In 2012, he phoned then Swans boss Brendan Rodgers to praise him after the 1-0 victory against Manchester City.
His admiration for Swansea continued to flows.
"I always look out for Swansea and how the club is progressing.
"I love watching Swansea compete with the big clubs. They do it in their own special way, and it's a very unique club.
"There are a few similarities in the way the club is run now to when I was there.
"The board of directors are big fans and local people, while they have given a huge opportunity to a manager who is still capable playing.
"It was a massive gamble giving the job to Tosh, and the same can be said of Garry Monk.
"But both appointments have paid off hugely for Swansea.
"I love the way Garry has maintained the football philosophy. He's changed it slightly, but you need that - you can't become predictable in football.
"I remember watching Swansea outplay Arsenal at their own game last season. I thought to myself: 'That is one heck of an achievement. Arsenal are worlds apart in terms of the size of the club.'
"But nothing seems to faze the players. Last weekend proved that when Swansea dominated Chelsea on their own patch.
"To me, the story of the club remains a fairytale. I was at the beginning of the dream, and everyone is living that dream right now."
And as for Saturday's encounter, Craig can't lose as his former clubs go head-to-head.
"I am absolutely delighted to have been invited to the game," he added. "I'm looking forward to seeing people and talking about my time at the club and hopefully I'll catch up with some of my former team-mates too.
"I've obviously got a huge interest in this game having played for both clubs, and I have a lot of affection for Swansea and Newcastle because they are marvellous football clubs.
"Both teams got the season off to a good start last weekend, and this will be a very interesting game between two teams with different styles."
*Please note, the riverside path adjacent to the indoor barn development at Landore is still unusable for public access.
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