From The Vault: Newcastle v Swans
13th April 2014
As part of our weekly 'From the vault' feature, we take a look back through the archives from past matchday programmes.
Ahead of next weekend's game against Newcastle, former Swans defender Dave Rushbury reflects on a past clash against the Magpies...
At the end of the 1980-81 season, Swansea City completed the final stage of their meteoric rise from the old Division Four to Division One in just four years. En-route to their promotion from the old Division Two in 1981, the Swans finished third in the table, winning 18 matches, drawing 14 and losing ten. Amongst the results that season were excellent home and away triumphs against Newcastle United.
There was a 2-1 triumph for John Toshack's men at St James' Park on October 18, 1980, which former defender Dave Rushbury recalls fondly.
"Playing Newcastle United was one of the big highlights of that (1980-81) season," he says. "Newcastle are obviously a massive club, with a phenomenal following. That day though, we managed to silence their home crowd with a really good performance. David Giles was immense and Brian Attley and Alan Waddle scored in a 2-1 win. The only surprise really is we didn't win by a bigger margin."
That larger score line against Newcastle would come on December 13, 1980, on the day Swansea City welcomed a legend back to the old Vetch Field. Alan Curtis had re-signed for the Swans from Leeds United the previous evening and the excitement was notable as he was paraded around the old ground prior to kick-off.
"It was brilliant," smiles Rushbury. "To bring back someone of that stature to Swansea City gave everyone a lift. We had a strong Welsh contingent and 'Curt' was the diamond amongst those. He had gone away to Leeds and picked up some really good experience there and returned looking an even better player. He was skilful, added pace to our team and was a fantastic person on top of all that."
Curtis wouldn't play that afternoon against Newcastle, but the team were in fine form without him. After just 11 minutes, Leighton James fired in a free-kick which deflected of Magpies striker Alan Shoulder and evaded goalkeeper Kevin Carr to put the home side one up. Rushbury was then to play a big part in Swansea increasing their lead just three minutes later.
"I remember making a crunching tackle on the half-way line and the ball ballooned up into the air," he explains. "It literally fell into the feet of Leighton James and he got the cross in for Robbie James to make it 2-0."
A minute before the break, Jeremy Charles shot to a Robbie James shot to help it over the line and make it 3-0 to the Swans. "Newcastle weren't actually that badly that day, we just had one of those days where we were on the top of our game and the goals just came," comments Rushbury.
The assault on Newcastle's goal continued in the second half. Charles had a shot well saved by Carr after Brian Attley had sent him clear with a fine through-ball. Attley nearly head in a Robbie James corner before the fourth goal of the day was scored on 64 minutes. Neil Robinson started a move that would ultimately see James go through one-on-one with the keeper and find the back of the net.
"Robbie (James) was just one of a host of gifted Welsh players in that Swansea team," reflects Rushbury on his former team-mate. "He knew how to time his runs into the box perfectly and he scored so many important goals as a result. He was strong, technically gifted and just a brilliant player."
The only negative for Swansea that afternoon was an injury to Leighton James eleven minutes from time, who would have to be substituted.
"It was a shame to see Leighton go off as he'd had one of his countless many brilliant games for Swansea," says Rushbury. "Leighton (James) was an unbelievable player. I can remember watching him when I was a young player and before we even played together and thought 'what a player'. Sometimes when I played left central defender, left back or left wing back, he'd be in front of me. He'd make my job easy because as soon as I had the ball, I could just give it to him."
The final whistle confirmed a 4-0 win for Swansea, who would ultimately go on to get promoted to the top flight come the end of the season while Newcastle United finished eleventh in the old Division Two.
Rushbury, who started his career at West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield Wednesday, would play a total of 52 league matches for the Swans between 1976 and 1979. He subsequently went on to represent the likes of Carlisle United, Gillingham, Doncaster Rovers, Bristol Rovers, Cambridge United and Goole Town, before hanging up the boots in the late 1980s. He would managed Chesterfield between 2002 and 2003 and has stayed in the area, currently working at Chesterfield College.