Where Are They Now? David Giles
As fate would have it, David Giles made his Swansea City debut against the club that had just sold him.
He started for the Swans at Wrexham in December 1979 just days after moving from North to South Wales.
His first goal for the Swans also came against a former employer, as he netted in a 2-1 win over Cardiff City on New Year’s Day 1980.
“It was strange for my debut and first goal for Swansea to come against my former clubs, but football seems to have a habit of writing stories like that sometimes,” smiles Giles.
The Cardiff-born forward started his career with the Bluebirds, for whom he scored three goals in 59 league matches between 1974 and 1978, prior to netting three times in 38 league appearances for Wrexham through until 1980.
Giles’ winner in the South Wales derby of 1980 came in the first league fixture between the two clubs for 15 years.
“I’m a Cardiff boy born and bred, but when I played for Swansea City, the only thing that mattered was that I was a Swans player,” reflects Giles.
“Over the years, people have asked me ‘did you regret scoring against Cardiff for Swansea?’ Of course, I didn’t because that was my job.
“I was a forward player and I always wanted to score and win.”
Giles made quite an impression at the Swans.
He ended his first half-season at Vetch Field in 1979-80 as the Swans’ joint-top scorer, matching Alan Waddle’s tally of 13 strikes.
Perhaps his most memorable performances during that campaign came in three FA Cup matches against future employers Crystal Palace in January 1980.
“They were three of the best matches I have ever been involved in during my career,” reflects Giles, who went on to score six goals in 88 league appearances for Palace between 1982 and 1984.
“The original third-round tie at the Vetch finished in a 2-2 draw, with John Toshack scoring twice. Then we drew 3-3 at Selhurst Park after extra time in the replay and I remember getting a goal that night.
“In those days, there was a second replay. The referee came into the dressing rooms after the replay and there was a coin toss to decide where the next match would be played. If Palace won the toss, we were going to play at Highbury and if we won the toss, the match would be played at Ninian Park.
“We ended up going to Cardiff and I scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win for us in another fantastic game.”
The following campaign, Giles was a key member of Toshack’s side as they got promoted to the top flight for the first time in the Swans’ history.
“We had a fantastic team at that time, with around four or five Welsh internationals in our squad even though we were in the Second Division,” he remembers.
“There was also Ian Callaghan, who had been in England’s squad for their 1966 World Cup victory and, when we got promoted, Tosh pulled off a real masterstroke in bringing Bob Latchford to the Vetch.”
Giles featured in just two of the Swans’ First Division matches during the 1981-82 season, spending a period of the campaign on loan at Leyton Orient.
After his time at Palace between 1982 and 1984, he went on to represent the likes of Birmingham City and Newport County before a second spell at Cardiff.
He retired from professional football in 1987, having also won 12 caps and scored two goals for Wales between 1980 and 1983.
He embarked on a career both as a factory storeman and journalist thereafter and was an analyst for ITV Wales on the late-night football magazine show Wales Soccer Night.
He also had a column in the South Wales Echo and spent a brief spell working as double-glazing salesman.
“On top of that, I spent around 10 years on Real Radio’s sports phone-in show,” adds Giles. “That was great fun. It was predominantly football chat, but we’d also cover rugby with ex-pros like David Bishop and Mark Ring. The former footballers were myself, Leighton James and John Hartson.
“I recently retired from my ‘main’ job of the last 25 years, working for a company called Johnson & Johnson.
“I was a storeman for them and I became very good on the forklift truck over the years.”