Around about 23 years ago, in the same month I was welcoming various groups of Swansea fans to our families’ hotel in Jesmond for an FA Cup tie at SJP. They were a non entity Club. Their fans, basically here for a piss up. I was somewhat more blasé in those days.
“TOON ARMY ONE, JACK ARMEEE TWOOO!!”
boomed a likely lad at me (in a very Welsh way) as I began to serve pint after pint. I laughed along, feeling a bit smug, blissfully unaware of what the Football Gods had in store for me over the next couple of decades or so.
I have to say, they were a canny bunch. They took their regulation 3-0 defeat well and gave us a wonderfully comedic moment when one chap awoke, (another Swan) half cut, circa 4AM to find his rather attractive lass to be in absentia. He stumbled into the next door room where he found none door locking, cloak & dagger “Jack Armeee” guy and two of his pals with his soon to be ex girlfriend. Put it this way, they weren’t playing cards.
Fisticuffs, claret and a superb chase around the top floor in a wonderful parody of the late Benny Hill (Ask your dad) was my main memory of Swansea City, mid 90’s. Oh, and a hideous orange away kit.
This weekend we welcome them once more to Tyneside and I’m gonna ‘fess up now. I’m already properly tense. Whilst they may be in a perilous position now, they’ve done amazingly well in recent years. Climbing the leagues, putting down roots in the top flight & even (through gritted teeth) winning a trophy at Wembley.
Whilst this fixture may not do much to raise the heart rate of the casual observer, for those of us involved from North East England & South Wales, it’s absolutely huge. An archetypal 6 pointer. We win, and we are only 14/15 points away from safety with 45 to play for and Swansea will start to be looking cut adrift. A result in their favour and well…. let’s not go there.
I think this is going to be a tight affair. Swansea’s new Portuguese manager, Carlos Carvalhal did a number on us twice last season in the Championship. This concerns me. His Sheffield Wednesday side kicked us off the park, then sneaked a 1-0 win at SJP. We were well beaten in the return at Hillsborough. I think he will approach Saturday’s game in a similar vein. If I’m correct they will sit deep, be overly combative and try to hit on the break or through set pieces.
Our performance at SJP could be the death of us this season. Actually, we’ve an identical home & away record currently – W3 D2 L6. That’s 10th best in the Premiership on our travels but a dismal 18th at home.
If this was away I’d fancy us to nick it given our recent form. Do we have the guile/pace/sheer luck to gain all three points? I pray I’m wrong but it’s a ‘no’ from me.
I’m going for 1-1.