The last time I saw Swansea play Arsenal I seem to remember that the ground was overlooked by a prison, and that those spending time at the pleasure of Her Majesty would lean out between the bars and shout abuse at us alien visitors from the land of St George.
I actually recognised a few of the lads inside, and we exchanged a little jolly banter, as I raised a glass of the stuff they could not get on the inside, and we all shared a jolly laugh. Returning to the streets after the game I found my car was done over, but I took it in good stead, and restricted my retribution to torching just a handful of the streets around the ground that evening while waiting for the AA.
So, what you need to know is that Swansea is in a foreign place. Maybe a principality, but they like to call it a country. Welsh TV runs a high profile series called Cheerio Cymru in which failed asylum seekers are invited on the show and asked questions about Welsh culture. The people who get most answers right are given £5 to take home and spend in their country. Those who fail get given a daffodil and a map of the M4 and M50, along with details of how to avoid the authorities if attempting to hide out in England.
Clwb Pêl-droed Dinas Abertawe as the local club are properly known locally has won the Welsh Cup ten times and have as their all time achievement the fact that in December 1981 they were top of the First Division.
Like Arsenal Clwb Pêl-droed Dinas Abertawe has a fairly new ground, in their case called the Liberty Stadium. They share it with Ospreys Rugby Onion club who play another game that I don’t understand.
Their supporters tend to call the club Swansea City and they are known as ‘Jacks’ either following on from 17th century sailors called Swansea Jacks or because of a dog called Jack. Puzzling.
Interestingly Swansea City spent time in the Southern League – a league that Royal Arsenal formed in the 19th century (see Tony’s forthcoming book “Woolwich Arsenal, the club that changed football” – that will cost you a pint Tony). Much of their time has been spent in the Third and Second divisions where they will on occasion have met the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, a bunch of hearty roughs who play near to the Emirates Stadium.
In 1967 Swansea decided to visit pastures new and trotted along to division four, a season in which they played us, of all people, in front of 32,000 people at their old ground, in the Cup. After the experience they changed their club name, before going all the way from division four to one in a short space of time, and getting very excited with three promotions in four seasons – something on Wimbledon have done before them. They even beat us in that first season up!
But then they went down again and sacked the man who had brought them up (John Toshack) and all the people they owed money to went to court to get their money back. This was reminiscent of Arsenal in 1910, as told in the book Making the Arsenal (that will be two pints Tony). Swansea were wound up by court order in December 1985 and were back in their spiritual home of division four in 1986.
On the way back up again they beat Torquay in a play off game which is wholly unacceptable (three pints Tony). (NB to rest of world, Tony also supports Torquay Utd).
There’s lots more history, but I am getting bored, so to skip to the end in 2001 the club was sold for £1. and then on to a bunch of Australians who sacked most of the team, and then the Australians sold the club to another consortium, and the Colin Addison took over. They had John Hollins as a manager too! What a small world.
So now you know. As for us…
Sagna Koscielny, Mertesacker Gibbs
Ramsey The Welsh, Arteta
Theo van Persie Benayoun
And if that vaguely resembles the team then the back ups will be…
Fabianski, Djourou, Ryo, Park, Arshavin, Coquelin, Ryo, Chamakh, Oxlade Chamberlain, Ignasi
which when you come to think about it is quite a good bench. And quite good men sitting on the bench.
- Diaby and Wilshere (the ankle twins)
- Vermaelen has had his surgery
- Rosicky, (kicked in an international)
- Santos short of match fitness so might play as a sub
- Gervinho, Song and Jenkinson all suspended
- Squillaci has a calf, which I think is a reference to an injury, rather than his interesting in farming.
As for Swansea, they have an official web site, and I have been on it. I clicked on the link to the Matchday homepage and it says “The page you are trying to reach may have expired, or been moved.” Hey ho.
The fixtures page confirms they are running neck and neck with us, having one point. But they are out of the league cup having lost 3-1 to Shrewsbury. They got a point drawing 0-0 with Sunderland. Their defender Tate broke his leg playing with a golf buggy.
Finally on to drinks. We’ll be meeting at the Auld Triangle as usual, but just beware the beer prices – the pub is engaging on random pricing, which means the bar staff just charge you whatever you feel. One way to deal with it is to order your drink, if you don’t like the price, just leave them on the counter and walk away. If enough of us do it, they might see sense.
Final score: Arsenal 9 Swansea 1, Swansea to score first. And in the pub Tony is buying.
- Arsenal v Tottenham update, team news and appalling, flagrant media bias
- Arsenal have benefitted by the world cup break: allegedly.
- Arsenal and Tottenham: which has had the easier ride so far this season?
- Arsenal v Tottenham: not exactly a battle of equals.
- Death by 300,000 passes: how the Arsenal transformation started 2 seasons ago.