Trunds recalls special Jack Army reception
It was not uncommon for Lee Trundle to hear the Swansea City fans cheering his name, but there was a twist to their adulation one December afternoon at Ashton Gate.
‘Magic Daps’ was a hero in SA1. That’s what happens when you score 86 goals for the Swans, winning silverware and promotion along the way.
Children and adults in Swansea copied his haircut, Swans shirts bearing his name and number felt like they were almost omnipresent in the city.
But, as the Jack Army sang his name on this particular occasion, Trundle was no longer wearing Swansea colours.
He had left the Liberty to join Bristol City in a £1million deal during the summer of 2007.
So, in December 2008, following Swansea’s promotion under Roberto Martinez, the striker faced his former club for the first time.
And any anxiety about how he may be received by the Swans fans at Ashton Gate was quickly forgotten once Trundle came out to warm up before the game.
“Beforehand I had mixed emotions, because of everything I felt for the football club, the last thing I wanted was to come out and for the fans to boo me,” says Trundle, who would come on as a 71st minute substitute in the goalless draw.
“I was dreading it a little bit because it would have broken my heart if that had happened.
“I had moved on in my football career, but my heart was still in Swansea so when I came out and the fans started singing my name it was an unbelievable feeling.
“Even when I was warming up they were still doing it, and it showed the relationship I had with the Jack Army was a special one.
“I believe some players just fit clubs, and I believe I fit Swansea and it was great for the fans to show me that as well.”
Swans boss Martinez was not particularly happy about the veneration of the former Liberty favourite when asked for his view post-match, but it summed up Trundle’s bond with both club and city.
In his own mind there was never any doubt he would be back one day, and he would have a loan spell back with the Swans before his playing days were done.
Of course, he now works as a Club Ambassador, and is a visible presence promoting the work of the club and the Community Trust.
“It had been a difficult decision to leave. But ,if you looked at the deal, I was 31, they were going to pay £1million for me and I was moving up to the next level in the Championship,” he said.
“I had come close to getting there with Swansea, and had a play-off final defeat.
“I wondered if I was going to miss my chance at that level, and everything fell into place.
“But the downside was leaving Swansea because I loved playing for them, I loved playing in the city and I loved the people in the city.
“It was just something I felt I could not turn down.
“But I always knew I would be back, whether playing or working for the club. I knew my life was always going to be in Swansea.”
The move to Ashton Gate, while an emotional one, so nearly ended with Trundle becoming a Premier League player.
At the conclusion of the 2007-08 season the Robins made the play-offs, and a typical moment of inspiration from Trundle helped them past Crystal Palace into the Wembley final.
But it was not to be, as a Dean Windass goal ensured it was Hull who claimed their place in the top-flight.
“I think the first season was my best there, to get to a play-off final and to score a goal in the semi-final, it nearly all worked out for me,” says Trundle of his time with the Robins.
“But it was not to be, and the next season I struggled and was not in the side as much.
“The goal against Palace I would say was probably the third best in my career. The first would be the one against Carlisle at the Millennium Stadium, and the second the one against Yeovil.
“I have scored better goals, but the magnitude of scoring a goal to get you to Wembley and be one game away from the Premier League, that goes down as a great night I will always remember.”
Although not always played in his favoured position during his time with Bristol City, Trundle retains a fondness for the BS3 club, who are managed by his former team-mate Lee Johnson.
But, when the two sides lock horns at 3pm on Saturday, there is no question over where his loyalties will lie.
“I always feel fine when the clubs meet,” he smiled.
“When it comes to Swansea City and Bristol City, I am always a Swansea fan.
“Even when I moved to Bristol, the first score I would keep an eye out for was the Swansea score.
“That was the year Roberto had come in and they got promoted, which was great.
“So when the fixture comes round it is good to look back on it all, but my heart is always with Swansea.”