When I was contemplating which away games that I could get to this season, I thought about Swansea and that I had not been to the new stadium, saying that, I only went to the old one, The Vetch Field, once.
It was a frightening thought that my visit to the Vetch was nearly 35 years ago – December 13th 1980 – the attendance was 11,500 – our starting line up:
Carr, Carney, Mitchell, Boam, Johnson, Wharton, Martin, Koenen, Cartwright, Shinton, Shoulder.
I obviously looked up these details but going there this weekend I got to thinking what I could remember about that game. I certainly recalled the score – we got thumped 4-0 – the only Swansea player I could remember playing was Leighton James.
Looking at the details of the game, James actually scored – did not remember that!
I also did not realise that Tommy Craig came off the bench that day to replace James. Tommy was a player I liked watching when he played for us, he is still working for Swansea and was presented to the crowd before the game which was a nice touch.
My only other memories of that day – I just about remember that I was at the ‘office’ Christmas party on the Friday and that I was a bit the worse for wear when we set off at 5am, luckily I was not driving and it is a LONG way!
This time around I stayed at a hotel just off the M5 near Worcester on Friday night, got home at midnight on Saturday and it is still a LONG way!
Comparing the 2 games, albeit 35 years apart.
First of all, the Newcastle team of 1980 was made up of 1 foreign import while the rest were British/Irish, there were 6 local lads in the team and 3 of them had been playing Northern League football just a few months previously.
The present team had one local lad with the rest from overseas – was it better that we did not have the foreign lads?
It is just a fact of life and how things are in the world but it was nice to associate with the players who pulled on the shirt and think that they knew what we were going through as supporters.
The team then were an average team, it was still a year or so until Keegan the player arrived, Swansea were the better team and I think they got promoted that year to Division One.
It is a similar story now, we are an average/poor (we will find out in the next few months) team and Swansea are better – Montero, Shelvey and Sigurdsson are class acts and would get into most teams – most certainly ours, saying that we gave them far too much room to play.
Have to say it was amazing that we filled the away end, it is a nice little stadium but only trouble is that it is a round trip of 700 miles (did I say that it is a LONG way?), at least Old Trafford next week is only down the road by comparison.
A final thought, my next trip to Swansea is due in 2050 – I will be 95 years old – wonder if we will win anything in the next 35 years?
Don’t hold your breath and at 95 I certainly wouldn’t be able to!
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