We're in for a noisy afternoon
2nd March 2014
If Crystal Palace's last visit to the Liberty Stadium is anything to go by, we're in for a noisy afternoon.
Back in January 2011 Palace came here short on points, confidence, hope and fans, but those who did make the journey made a huge amount of noise from the first to last minute.
If the drummer who hammered out the beat of the visitors' songs doesn't suffer from RSI, or even deafness, I will be genuinely surprised.
The 287 travelling fans produced a constant din from the corner of the West and North stands, despite seeing their side being convincingly beaten 3-0.
Dale Cavese and a Palace modified variation of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army, among other songs, pounded away throughout the match.
In fact, I had Seven Nation Army going around in my head for most of the following week. I was really impressed how the Palace fans kept up their support despite the fact their team's efforts were obviously going to be in vain.
I'm guessing there will be a few more in attendance from London this afternoon and the volume will be even higher, which should make for a cracking atmosphere.
The quality of away support is vital to the atmosphere of any game. There's no doubt a vociferous away end helps ramp up the support from the home fans as they respond to the visitors.
For example, compare the atmosphere at the Valencia Europa League game to that at the Napoli match last week.
The Valencia game should have been one of the great occasions in the Swans history - a big name European opponent and everything to play for in terms of qualification. It had all the ingredients of a classic European match under the Liberty lights.
But as much as the home fans tried to generate and electric atmosphere, the all but empty and silent away end, seemed to help dampen spirits both on and off the pitch.
I think that was one of the most subdued atmospheres I have ever experienced at a Swans match. It was like being at a game played in front of a few hundred fans where you can clearly hear the players shouting, and sometimes even talking, to each other.
There were no such problems for the visit of Napoli and their large and vociferous following.
I've heard of the Three Tenors before, but never the Three Conductors, which is what we appeared to be up against at the Napoli game.
I don't think the three fans who were orchestrating the visiting support saw much of the game as they had their backs to the pitch whipping their fellow fans into a frenzy.
But for all their synchronised singing and extravagant arm waving, they were no match for the Swans fans who comfortably managed to drown them out.
There's nothing I love more than hearing the Liberty responding to a noisy away end, which makes for an electric atmosphere throughout the game.
One of my favourite moments of this season was when Liverpool fans struck up their traditional rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone at the Liberty, only to be completely drowned out by Hymns and Arias ringing around the stadium.
And talking of Liverpool, it was fantastic to see the Swans silence the Anfield faithful last Sunday when they pulled back the early 2-0 deficit.
It was fantastic on the half hour to hear the Swans fans singing "Is this a library?", taunting the sudden silence of the home fans.
This certainly wasn't a one off. The travelling Jack Army have made a habit of out singing the home support up and down the country since arriving in the Premier League.
They have brought the greater atmosphere of the Championship up to the Premier League, where some stadiums seem to be surprisingly quiet.
Angel Rangel spoke at the end of last year how important the vocal support of the Jack Army was to the players. "As a player, when you walk out of the tunnel and look up at the away end and see it packed - that gives you a boost.
"Our fans have shown how loyal they are to the club because they are there every week no matter where we are playing. Ever since I've been here, the support for away games has been incredible from League One through to the Premier League.
"I remember playing at Chelsea and we took a few thousand to Stamford Bridge and all we could hear on the pitch were our fans singing our names and 'Who are we? Jack Army'.
"And at Wigan a few seasons back there must have been 4,000 - if not more - when we won 2-0 up there. It does make a big difference. But it is not just the amount of fans we take - it's the noise they make. Sometimes we can forget that we are playing away because the constant signing of our fans make it feel like we are at the Liberty."
I'm sure Palace will bring that same Championship spirit with them to the Liberty Stadium this afternoon, so the home fans are going to have to be on top form.
To be fair, over the past few games the atmosphere has been ramped up even higher at Liberty. The noise levels at the Cardiff and Napoli games were seriously impressive.
I suppose it's only fitting as new manager Garry Monk has always signed off his programme notes as a player, and now as manager, with the words: "Stay Loud, Proud and Positive" - also the title of his autobiography.
So it's vital that we rise to the challenge this afternoon and get behind the boys in what is going is hugely important match as we push to achieve a mid table finish.
So, no matter how many fans Palace bring this afternoon, and no matter how loud they are, let's make sure we keep up the fantastic support of the past few weeks and drown them out as we cheer the Swans to what will hopefully be another three points.