VIDEO: Remembering The Great Escape

9th December 2013

Just over ten years ago, Swansea City took on Hull knowing their Football League status hung in the balance.
Brian Flynn's side were battling against the drop to the Conference, with Exeter also scrapping for survival.
But on May 3, 2003,  a famous 4-2 victory at the Vetch - courtesy of a hat-trick from local lad James Thomas and another from Lenny Johnrose - ensured the Swans of their Football League safety.
Little did they know at the time, but it would mark the start of a meteoric rise that would eventually Premier League football to the city.
Tonight, the Swans and Hull meet again - this time at the Liberty in the Premier League.
Here, some of the key players from that historic victory a decade ago share their memories from a day that will be forever remembered by the Jack Army.




Hat-trick hero James Thomas
"My career was short, but I have memories that no-one can take away. I would not change it for the world.
"Knowing that I played a small part in helping the Swans stay in the Football League makes me feel ten feet tall.
"I always remember the day so clearly, as I'm sure the rest of the players do.
"Being in the huddle after the warm-ups and hearing Curt speak to passionately about what this meant to the people, to himself, to the club, the city - it pumped us all up.
"He poured his heart out, and hearing that from a legend like Curt instantly gives you an extra ten per cent. I felt as though we couldn't and wouldn't let him or anyone else down.
"I know people talk about my hat-trick, but there were ten other guys on that pitch that deserve all the praise. The fans too - what an atmosphere they created.  It was phenomenal. I don't think we could have fitted one more person into the Vetch because it seemed a lot more than the 9,500 official attendance."



Leon Britton - on loan from West Ham at the time
"I had to treat it as my last game for the Swans. I didn't know what West Ham wanted to do regarding my future.
"I knew Brian Flynn wanted to bring me back on a permanent deal, but there was nothing in place.
"We had a few lads on loan at the time, like Tatey was here from Manchester United and Marc Richards arrived from Blackburn.
"In the time that we were at the club we very attached to the Swans. We were all battling together - the players, the staff, the fans, the city. We were all determined to keep the club up.
"People could have looked at me and thought relegation wouldn't have mattered as much to me than the people of Swansea because I was going back to a Premier League club after that, but that certainly wasn't the case.
"Loan or not, this was my club. That's how strongly I felt.
"Pretty soon after that game Brian Flynn told me he wanted to bring me here. I told him I didn't want to go back to play Reserve football at West Ham and that I would sign for Swansea if I was allowed to leave.
"I only wanted to go to Swansea - I wasn't interested in anywhere else. I didn't even think of talking to anyone else.
"I told my agent to speak to Brian Flynn, get it sorted and that's what happened.
"The rest, as they say, is history."

 






Alan Tate - then on loan from Manchester United
"Those of us that were on loan at the time hung around after the season ended to find out about the other lads' contracts.
"We were told to go back to our clubs but we didn't want to - we were all in it together.
"All we wanted was the best for the football club.
"Since then, however, the progress has been remarkable and it doesn't bear thinking what might have happened if we had lost that game against Hull.
"I remember being told that the youth teams were going to be scrapped, so there probably wouldn't have been the likes of Joe Allen, Shaun MacDonald and Jazz Richards - just a few players who have played a major part in where we are today.
"But just look at this club now! It's a remarkable football story."




Local lad Kristian O'Leary, who started in defence that day
"I was out of contract and had no idea what would happen to me after that, but the most important thing was ensuring the club stayed in the Football League.
"Just over a year before we had gone through the Tony Petty farce, and that was still fresh in the minds of a lot of players.
"We had been scarred by that. Being told on Christmas Eve that you are not going to be paid is a horrible feeling, but I suppose it toughened me up a little bit.
"The club was close to financial ruin off the pitch and football ruin on it within a short period of time.
"But we came through and we've been getting stronger with each season since then.
"But it can't be forgotten what was achieved by everyone ten years ago. I'm not just talking about the players, I'm talking about the coaches, the staff, the supporters, the city. Everyone played their part.
"It's scary to think what might have been. Only now do I really appreciate how close we were to slipping into the abyss."