Where are they now? Mike Hughes
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.
This week we catch up with former Swans keeper Mike Hughes.
It is 30 years this September since Tottenham Hotspur visited Vetch Field to take on Swansea City in Mike Hughes’ benefit match.
The game came on the back of the goalkeeper’s retirement from professional football, which had been announced some six months earlier on medical advice.
“After playing for Swansea against Stockport County in February 1988, I got a call from a neurosurgeon who asked me to come and see him on the following Monday,” Hughes explains.
“I had been knocked unconscious in a pre-season friendly against Bristol City and then again in an away match at Crewe on Boxing Day that season.
“When I went into the hospital, the specialist told me it was inadvisable for me to continue playing football.
“The compression in my brain after my other concussions wasn’t clearing as quickly as he would have liked and there was concern as to what could happen if I had another knock.
“On the back of that 20-minute conversation, my career as a professional footballer was over before my 24th birthday.”
Understandably, given the circumstances, Hughes describes his benefit match against Spurs that September, which featured the likes of Paul Gascoigne, as a “bittersweet occasion”.
“Thinking back now, I wish I’d played in that game,” he reflects. “At the time, though, it felt like the right thing not to play as that was the advice I’d been given.
“It was obviously a huge honour that the club had organised this match for me but, at the same time, it was a sombre occasion knowing my career was over.”
Born in Bridgend on August 19, 1964 and raised in nearby Port Talbot, Hughes is a long-standing Swans supporter who watched matches from the North Bank at the Vetch from the age of 11.
He signed schoolboy forms with the club in 1978 prior to making his first-team debut as a 19-year-old in a 2-0 victory over Derby County in the Second Division five years later.
“To sign for the club and then go on to play for the first team was a dream come true for me as a Swansea supporter,” Hughes smiles.
“Prior to my debut, I’d only played two reserve matches during the 1983-84 season.
“I can remember our other goalkeepers Jimmy Rimmer and Chris Sander picking up injuries in the week leading up to the game and John Toshack telling me to look after myself in case I was needed. Discovering I was playing on the Saturday was an incredible feeling.
“We won 2-0 that day. Nigel Stevenson scored with two headers and I kept a clean sheet, so it couldn’t have gone any better for me.”
Hughes went on to feature in 21 matches during his debut season as he gradually established himself as the club’s regular goalkeeper throughout the mid-1980s.
Prior to his retirement, he had played 32 times during the 1987-88 campaign, which ended in the Swans getting promoted to the old Third Division via the play-offs.
“There were lots of ups and downs for the club while I was there, both on and off the field,” Hughes remembers. “But it’s a period of my life I will only ever have happy memories of.”
After retiring from playing, Hughes briefly worked in financial services prior to embarking on a career with the prison service.
“It was a chance conversation with the father of one of my Swansea team-mates, David Hough, that started me on the career path I am still on today with HM Prison Service,” he explains.
“He recommended me to a role in the PE department at HM Prison Swansea and that’s where I started out.
“I’ve since worked in different prisons and different roles in Dorset, Essex and London. I’ve been back in South Wales for the last few years in my current position as violence reduction manager at HM Prison Cardiff. It’s a very challenging but equally rewarding job.”
Hughes remains a huge Swans supporter and gets to home and away matches when his work schedule permits.
“Once a Jack, always a Jack,” he adds. “I was at the Tottenham and Arsenal matches earlier this year.
“When I was based around London, I used to get to quite a lot of the away games there and I was also at the League Cup final victory over Bradford City at Wembley Stadium in 2013, which was a fantastic occasion.”