Where are they now? Lee Bracey

31st October

Ever wondered what former Swans stars have been up to since hanging up their boots?

Well you are in the right place.

As part of a regular feature, we take a look at what some ex-Swansea City favourites have done since leaving SA1.

Here we catch up with keeper turned copper Lee Bracey.

Barking-born goalkeeper Lee Bracey was 19 years old when he was released by West Ham United in 1988 without having made a first-team appearance in East London.

However, on the recommendation of former Hammers chief scout Eddie Baily, Swansea City manager Terry Yorath offered the youngster the chance to forge a new career in South Wales.

“I had trained with a few clubs that summer including Colchester and Fulham,” Bracey remembers.

“I also had phone calls from Brentford and Crystal Palace when, out of the blue, Terry gave me a call. Eddie had apparently made him aware of my situation.

“My family were based in Kent and we arranged to meet at the Swans’ opening match of the season, which was away at Gillingham. I spoke briefly to Terry and he told me I was playing the following Tuesday!”

Bracey’s Swans debut and professional bow saw him thrown straight in at the deep end against Cardiff City in the League Cup.

The night could not have gone any better for the young goalkeeper, who kept a clean sheet as the Swans won 1-0 in the opening leg of the first-round tie at Ninian Park.

“It was a brilliant experience,” smiles Bracey, who played in more than 120 matches for the Swans in all competitions.

“I can remember being on the coach before the game and seeing the floodlights shining over Ninian Park as we approached.

“It was the biggest crowd I’d played in front of at that stage in my career, having only played youth and reserve football at West Ham.

“The atmosphere was incredible and I really didn’t want to come off the pitch.”

Bracey was soon offered a two-year contract with the Swans, for whom he made his league debut in a goalless draw with Blackpool that November.

He was pretty much an ever-present over the next three years, winning the Welsh Cup along the way and featuring in the European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign of 1989-90.

One of Bracey’s undoubted career highlights came in January 1990, when he kept the likes of Ian Rush, John Barnes and Peter Beardsley at bay as the Swans drew 0-0 with Liverpool at Vetch Field in the third round of the FA Cup.

However, there was nothing he could do in the replay, as the Reds ran out comprehensive 8-0 winners at Anfield.

“I had one of those games at the Vetch where everything went in my favour,” Bracey recalls.

“I made a lot of saves and we got a replay at Anfield, where we did get a walloping, but it was still an incredible experience to play there.”

Following the arrival of Roger Freestone, Bracey eventually lost his grip on the Swans No.1 shirt and departed the Vetch in 1991.

He went on to play for the likes of Halifax, Bury, Ipswich and Hull before retiring 10 years later.

He continued playing at semi-professional level before becoming a police constable with Greater Manchester Police in 2003.

“After about three years with the force, I went into what’s called the proactive unit,” Bracey explains.

“That involved quite a bit of plain-clothes work and I loved that side of things.

“Then I became a neighbourhood beat officer and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
“It’s an old cliche, but no two days are the same in this job and that’s what I particularly enjoy about it.”