Swansea City’s 3-1 win over Hull City last season will live long in the memory for Bafetimbi Gomis’ stunning overhead kick. That win set the Swans on course for their record number of points in the top flight and their highest finish in the Premier League. However, when the two sides met in May 2003, the setting was very different with both battling it out in the old 3rd division. The hero that day was striker James Thomas whose hat-trick saved the Swans from relegation out of the Football League altogether.
It has been a remarkable rise since that fateful day for the South Wales side and from nearly entering the Football Conference 12 years ago, they are now the best run team in the Premier League.
The club is run on a tight budget, with only 6 clubs spending LESS on wages in the Premier League last season. This has also seen them be completely debt free and since 2001 when the Swansea City Supporters Trust have owned 21% of the club. With record signing, striker Wilfried Bony leaving for over twice what they paid last January, now the most expensive player in their entire squad is defender Federico Fernández at just £7M.
Away from the balance sheet, what is most impressive about the Swans is how they keep on progressing. They’ve lost managers and players but it doesn’t affect them. This season is Swansea’s fifth in the Premier League and Garry Monk is their third different manager.
All too often clubs lose their manager or star player and he takes their sumptuous football with him and their former side can’t replace the magic they had before. Manchester United are rebuilding after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Chelsea have had to rehire Jose Mourinho to reignite the success from his first spell, whilst Liverpool and Spurs are still trying to replace Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale since their departures for La Liga.
None of that at the Liberty Stadium. Successful managers Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup have all come and gone but nothing has changed. Star players Scott Sinclair, Michu, Michel Vorm, Joe Allen, and Bony have also departed for bigger clubs. And guess what? No change.
Swansea are still playing the great football they always have. The football that got them promoted, took them to 8th in the league last year and won them the League Cup. This isn’t a club built on names or under the guidance of a manager just passing through.
Huge credit must go to the Supporters Trust, and the chairman Huw Jenkins. Although it’s unlikely they seek praise for their efforts, the reward is on the pitch at the Liberty Stadium. Their fans pack out the stadium every week and the club enjoyed European football in the 2013-14 campaign, something that would have been beyond the wildest dreams of the Swansea faithful less than a decade ago.
The 2013 League Cup remains the club’s only major trophy in their history. Hopefully the next 12 years will see Swansea go even further to the glory they richly deserve.
Written by Charlie Tang.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Gary Marson.