Swansea, Fulham And Footballing Symmetry
Let's rewind the clock. Much has been said of Swansea City's rise from near extinction in 2002, and near relegation in 2003, and the FA Cup once more provides us with another opportunity to exorcise the ghost of years gone by.
November 11th 1995, and the Swans face a tricky trip to Fulham, a team in the division below. However, even given the fact the Swans were struggling in the then Division Three, it was hard to imagine the 7-0 thumping that followed. The result was made even more incredible by the fact Fulham had been on a 14 match winless run.
Things have of course, changed around since then. The Swans and the Cottagers no longer operate in the lower echeleons of the football league, preferring to mix it with the big boys.
While Fulham have been bank-rolled by the ever obliging Mohammed Al-Fayed, the Swans have stabilised the club after years of uncertianty and are now run by a board who are Swans fans through and through, and who have the club's best interests at heart. We may not have the money, but you know what, we've got the talent, heart, style and work-ethic to add Fulham's scalp to that of Portsmouth's.
As Roger Freestone, one of Swansea's most loyal servants picked the ball out of the net 7 times against Fulham, I imagine his frustration was almost unbearable. As it was when he was crudely refused a contract by Kenny Jackett, whithout having been given a chance to say goodbye to the fans.
Roberto Martinez, a man acutely aware of the emotion in football made amends for this. And in presenting both Roger and hat-trick hero James Thomas before the Liberty faithfull, he gave two very important men in Swansea history the chance to say goodbye. Don't be surprised if a similar masterstroke is pulled again.
Roger's appearance came in timely fashion, whipping up a fervant atmosphere ahead of a game the Swans needed to win by 3 goals to win a play-off place and boy, was the atmosphere special. Wouldn't it be a nice piece of footballing symmetry to welcome Roger back once more, so he could watch his beloved club put to bed probably one of the worst days of his career.
Because mark my words, following the fabulous win over Portsmouth, the sky is the limit for Roberto's silky Swans. We will now be an even bigger attraction for televised matches in both the league and cup, and are going from strength to strength. On the back of a 12 game unbeaten run, it's difficult to back against the Swans at the moment. And, having not conceded in 5 games, Roger, Roberto and the whole of Swansea will be safe in the knowledge that there will be no repeat of that terrible day in November 1995.
You can Dominic O'Shea's full range of articles on his website here
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