24 - John Cornforth
John Cornforth was born in Whitley Bay in 1967 & grew up as a Newcastle United fan. But he began his career at Newcastle`s arch-rivals, Sunderland. He spent nearly six years at the Black Cats, including loan spells at Doncaster, Shrewsbury & Lincoln.
In 1991, his spell on Tyneside came to an end, when then Swansea manager Frank Burrows paid £50,000 for his services after making only 39 career league starts. He made nearly 150 league starts for the Swans, scoring 16 goals. The midfielder made a big impression with fans at the Vetch and even after leaving the club he kept in touch with the club`s fortunes and described himself as a 'True Jack`.
Cornforth on his time at Swansea:
I went to Frank`s office and asked for the captaincy after two games. Frank went along with my wishes but said he was surprised I hadn`t asked sooner! This was the best time of my career.'
Cornforth was eligible to play for Wales through his grandmother, a proud Welsh woman from Llantrisant. He picked up 2 Welsh caps, against Bulgaria and Georgia, before a cruciate knee ligament injury hampered his progress.
His Swansea career came to an end when Barry Fry paid £350,000 to take him to Birmingham. But his time in the Midlands was largely unsuccessful, he made only 8 league starts in a Blue Shirt. This was down to the fact that Fry replaced as manager by Trevor Francis soon after Cornforth`s arrival, and Francis wanted to work with his own players.
This was followed by a more successful spell at Wycombe Wanderers before a loan spell at Peterborough & brief spells at Cardiff and Sc*nthorpe before Cornforth ventured into coaching with a player-coach role at Exeter.
Exeter were adrift at the bottom of the Third Division, when John was handed the manager`s role with the brief of keeping the club in the Football League. Eventually they finished 19 points clear of the drop zone but early the following season Cornforth received the sack.
He was linked with the Swansea job after Brian Flynn`s departure, but John remained in Devon with his young family and spent time scouting for Sheffield Wednesday, coaching for the St Vincent and the Grenadines national squad in the Caribbean & managing non-league side Newport County . His most recent role was a short spell as Torquay United head coach.Sold to:
Birmingham for £350,000 (1996)Claim to fame:
Making nearly 150 for the Swans as club captain, declaring himself a 'True Jack` & winning 2 Welsh capsWhere is he now?
Living in Devon with his young family after unsuccessful managerial spells at Torquay United & Newport County.
Cornforth on his return to the Vetch:
Well Barry Fry is on record as saying he has never heard such a reception for a returning player when I first came back with Peterborough, it surprised him, but it didn't surprise me at all. Swansea people are no mugs, they know a true Jack when they see one, and I am a true Jack. I apologise if that offends Exeter City, but like a lot of players and managers I have my team, and Swansea City are my team, they have been for eight years. I always look for the results, and I am so disappointed at the moment. It seems that things need changing down there fast, and for the good of the club. Nobody puts that shirt on lightly and if they do they shouldn't be there. That's me speaking as a fan, I want us to win every week, not just now and again.'
Did you ever see John Conforth play? You can post your comments below as well as in the forum hereLinks to the Top 25 Players:25 - Chris Coleman
Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk