Vic Gomersall | The games that stood out for the former Swan
Every former player has a stand-out game, a match they remember because it has remained imprinted on their mind long after the event.
And every one of them recalls the players they played alongside and the memories they made and shared.
Popular left-back Vic Gomersall's highlights include the historic 1966 European Cup Winners’ Cup preliminary round games with FC Slavia Sofia.
The home leg at the Vetch Field took place on Wednesday September 21 and Swansea Town hosted the top Bulgarian side who had been league champions seven times and won the Bulgarian Cup four times.
The team contained four members of the Bulgarian World Cup squad. The visitors played in a white kit and the Swans in orange.
“Those games will always stand out because of the nature of them. As a player you don’t get to be involved in those sorts of occasions often and we certainly didn’t back then,” said Gomersall.
“The excitement, the travelling; everything was very different. There were no luxury coaches and planes like there are today, but you got to share the experience with your team-mates and you look back and realise how important that was.”
In his match-day programme notes, ‘From the manager’s desk’, Glyn Davies wrote:
‘Tonight is a history making event for Swansea Town. We entertain for the first time ever a world class team in the now glamorous European Cup Winners’ Cup.
‘Slavia have earned the reputation of being a top team on the continent and we only hope that tonight’s match and the high standard of play envisaged can be the forerunner of many more such meetings.
‘Our wholehearted welcome to our friends from Bulgaria – see you in Sofia on October 5th.’
The home tie produced a respectable 1-1 draw, with local lad Keith Todd getting the Swans goal. The away leg ended in a 4-0 defeat which saw Davies’ side crash out of the competition 5-1 on aggregate.
Another Swansea highlight for the Manchester-born adopted Jack came two years later in February 1968. Fourth Division Swansea were in fourth round FA Cup action against First Division Arsenal in front of a record crowd of 32,786.
In 1964 the Swans reached the semi-finals of the competition, beating Liverpool at Anfield before losing to Preston North End in the semi-final. Another cup run was on the cards in ’68.
“There was the Arsenal game at the Vetch in front of a record crowd of 32,700-odd supporters. They were packed in like sardines and the atmosphere was unbelievable.
“As a player in an atmosphere like that, particularly in a ground like the Vetch where the fans were practically on the pitch, those are the games you never forget.
“We were really unlucky because Herbie Williams had a goal disallowed and Bobby Gould got the only goal of the game for them.”
The Swans side knocked out by Arsenal included Roy Evans and Brian Purcell, two great servants of the club who tragically lost their lives the following year.
“They had both been released by the Swans and gone to play for Hereford Town,” recalls Gomersall.
“We were playing Newport County that day and the manager told us that Roy and Brian had been killed on the road on the way to their game.
“It was the saddest time. They were two great lads who had been faithful servants. It really was a tragedy and everyone felt it.
“I’m 80 in June and when you get to my age it’s the people you remember as well as the matches.
“I got to play alongside some greats of the game like Ivor and Lenny Allchurch and Herbie Williams, Brian Evans and I made some great friends. Some we lost far too soon.
“Brian Evans came to Llanelli with me and Brian and I went to play with Ivor Allchurch at Pontardawe.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve got lots of great memories from the game and the good ones outweigh the bad.”
Gomersall believes that the Former Players’ Association will play an important part in the history of Swansea City because it will open up opportunities to hear from ex players and give them a chance to share their experiences with one another and more widely.
“It’s good now restrictions are lifting because we will have more opportunities to get former players together to have a chat and share memories.
“It will be important for the club and good for the city because it’s easy to feel on the outside as a player and it’s important that players know they’re not forgotten.”
Ex Swans who want to be involved with Swansea City Former Players’ Association are asked to fill in the registration form HERE.
The club is also keen to hear from relatives and friends of former players who are not online but who might still like to join the FPA.
Anyone in this category is asked to call the FPA secretary, Catherine Thomas, on 01792 616420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, the three former players on the committee, chair Lee Trundle, deputy chair Leon Britton and lifelong president Alan Curtis, are also happy to talk to players or their families directly.